Walking through prison doors is always a culture shock. Hearing the heavy doors slam behind you is a sobering reminder that a crucial boundary has been crossed into a brutal world.
Pathetic faces and soft demeanors belie the real stories of why these men (mostly men) are locked away from civilized society, in most cases, for life. A simple question makes the story clear. "What are you in for?" Murder, agrivated rape, murder, murder, rape. Once you read the judgement details, you realize these "titles" are sanitized at best. Their back stories make the softest of hearts cringe and reconsider.
But walking into Angola's geriatric ward with writer Julia O'Donoghue to explore upcoming legislative proposals was starker still. To understand why old, frail and ill criminals, some in hospice, still need to be imprisoned, becomes a palatable argument. Their medical care is a drain on prison's budgets.
If they have family willing to take care of them in their final, aged years, when they're no longer a danger to society, and when benefits would flow from Medicaid, should they be released? For these inmates, incarceration is for the purpose of punishment. How would victims feel about the possibility of release after, say 40 years of incarceration?
At what point do we reach diminishing returns on our strapped state budgets? As the Louisiana Secretary of Corrections said, "It's an expensive proposition. You can't let money drive everything, but it certainly should be considered."
You can find the full story here on NOLA.com here: http://bit.ly/2ngAn0E