July 12, 2010

Heartbreaking video on elderly and dying prisoners

Readers appreciated the video documentary I posted last week on the mentally ill in U.S. prisons, so here's a newer video on the elderly in prison. Forget humanitarianism; the economic costs alone of incarcerating so many elderly and infirm should be cause for alarm.

Al Jazeera's investigative reporting continues to impress me. In this special investigation, "Fault Lines: Dying Inside," we see amazing footage that includes:
  • a prisoner with Huntington’s Chorea in the nation's first specialized unit for demented patients, a 30-bed facility in New York that has never before been filmed for TV
  • 100-year-old Sherman Parker, demented and missing one leg, being cared for by a prisoner earning $5 a month in an Oklahoma prison "operating in warehouse mode" due to severe budget cuts
  • 86-year-old Plutarcho Hill, imprisoned for 66 years for a 1947 murder, who has escaped and returned to prison 10 times
  • Larry White, a 72-year-old ex-convict released from prison three years ago who is "going back and helping those I left behind" by lobbying for compassionate release for elderly prisoners
  • a woman volunteer who is dedicating her life to providing hospice for dying prisoners in the Pennyslvania prisons