Never too old for crime should mean never too old for prison time

The golden years are a time to reflect, relax, kick back on a porch swing – or smuggle marijuana across the border.

Thankfully we only got pix of the pot and not the strip search/Border Patrol photo

Thankfully we only got pix of the pot and not the strip search/Border Patrol photo

Such was the case for a 94-year-old Mexican woman who was busted March 30 for attempting to smuggle 10 1/2 pounds of pot through the Nogales Port of Entry’s Morley Pedestrian Gate, according to a Border Patrol news release.

Agents found the six packets of pot strapped to her body, from her torso to her legs.

The thought of her full body strip search is not a pretty one.

This little old lady is not the old folk out there committing crimes.

James W. von Brunn, who reportedly burst into Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum with a rifle in June 2009 and shot a guard dead, was 88.

If elderly people want to dabble in the what’s-left-of-their life of crime, that’s their choice. Last we checked, it is a free country.

The problem arises, however, when the country becomes much too free and these old folks end up with little or no punishment.

If old folks are hearty enough to commit a crime, they should be hearty enough to do the time.

Yet sympathy prevails. A study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology surveyed 102 people, giving them a scenario of a crime. The study then gave descriptions of different subjects who committed the crime – juvenile, adult and elderly – and asked for input.

“Findings showed that the elderly criminal was perceived in a significantly more positive manner than the adult or juvenile criminal and that the elderly criminal received a significantly more lenient sentence than the adult criminal,” the summary said.

Felons who started out young but inevitably get old also get a break. They can get out of prison early if they are “experiencing deteriorating physical or mental health because of the aging process that substantially diminishes the ability of the defendant to provide self-care within the environment of a correctional facility,” according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission and noted in a Newsweek report.

After all, most cells don’t have ample room to fit in oxygen tanks and walkers. And what about the cost?

Arizona man Phil Cisneros was arrested on a lingering warrant in 2007 at the age of 83, according to an article in the Phoenix New Times.

The warrant was for failing to appear in court on a DUI charge nine years prior. He was sentenced to three years in prison. No word on if he’s still alive.

“(Cisneros) suffers from prostate cancer, diabetes, pulmonary hypertension, sleep apnea, shingles, dizziness, and shortness of breath. He’s had double-bypass surgery. He’s extremely hard of hearing. And then there’s the emotional stress he’s under — his beloved wife, the second Lucy Cisneros, has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy,” the article said.

Cisneros’ lawyer said his client’s medical bills would cost the prison system, thus taxpayers, $65,000 each year.

While his case is a sympathetic one, perhaps Cisneros should have thought of all this before he decided not to show up in court.

And anyone who says elderly criminals should be given a break – or a free pass out of prison – should also remember one thing.

This year Charles Manson turns 76.

[tnipoll]

wb-logolil

What do you think?

Should elderly criminals get special treatment or get treated like the rest of ’em?

Would your grandma ever smuggle pot across the border?

How should elder care costs be covered in prison?

If elderly criminal treatment should depend on the circumstance, what are the parameters?

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About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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22 Responses to Never too old for crime should mean never too old for prison time

  1. tiponeill says:

    While, of course, we will all be safer in our homes and there will be less border violence if we pony up $100,000 a year to provide this grandma free housing and medical care for the rest of her life, I’m not sure that is the best expenditure of tax dollars.
    It depends upon whether you view law as providing “justice” and “punishment”, or whether, as I do, you don’t believe that “punishment” makes us safer and rehabilitation and protection of the public should be our goal.
    The great majority of violent crime is committed by young males. If we really wanted to prevent violent crime we would find ways to keep young males busy (joint the military, job corps,,,), stop arresting and imprisoning the non-violent ones, and keeping the violent ones in jail till they were 45 or so and then let them out.
     

    • Rynski says:

      hahha! yes, i, too, believe getting grandma mule off the streets would be a good thing – at any cost!
      joking aside,  i do like your idea of keeping young males busy with productive activities so they perhaps learn what it’s like to be an upstanding citizen and do not have as much time for crime – also agree that some non-violent criminals are unduly clogging up the system.
      but i would not agree with letting out violent criminals once they hit a certain age – esp. 45. that’s waaay too much time to still use what they learned in all their years in prison to prey upon others.
      after all, 40 IS the new 20….

      • tiponeill says:

        but i would not agree with letting out violent criminals once they hit a certain age – esp. 45. that’s waaay too much time to still use what they learned in all their years in prison to prey upon others.
        Due to a SC Ruling, a while back Texas had to let a lot of Death Row inmates free. They were actual, confessed murderers (typical was a guy who got in a bar fight when he was 20 and murdered another guy.).
        None of these old men re-offended or were violent and most went on to become peaceful, productive citizens.
        Most violent crime isn’t caused by “what you learn in prison” – it is caused by testosterone – and that decreases with age.
        (dammit)

      • Rynski says:

        hahahahahh!
        thanks for add’l info – and the laugh.
        good for the tactic working in texas, and double good for those that were set free and did not re-offend. even if convicts have statistics on their side, however, i would be wary of trusting some of them.
        the last (and only) time i dated a guy who spent time in prison, he killed my dog.

      • azmouse says:

        😦

  2. ericheithaus says:

    94 – Wow ! That is crazy awesome!

  3. Andrew Ulanowski says:

    Morning Ryn,
    Got poems?
    I am getting older but I dont’ FEEL older so any older wickedness would still be as punishable as younger wickednesses (ha!) would be, considering my actions are premeditated, n’est ce pas?
    A

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ andrew!
      no poems of late – been too busy cranking out freelance to make mortgage…but i will have some if you name a topic!
      i agree w/ ya on older vs younger wickedness being on the same level. actually, older wickedness may even be more wicked, as the mind had more time to fester, seethe and compose even more diabolical schemes, also n’est ce pas?
      glad you don’t feel old – i don’t either…but then again, i’m only going on 20…

  4. radmax says:

    Howdy Rynski! This Cisneros cat is a perfect example of of an individual who should not burden the taxpayers with clothing and warehousing him. Sounds as though he is paying for his crime inadvertently quite severely. Hope he has his own medical insurance… 😉

    • Rynski says:

      hiya radmax –
      yeah, the cisneros guy got a real raw deal…but that also goes to show how dui will get you one way or another – yet folks still drive around intoxicated – or at least that’s what i’m chalking up all the really crummy motoring skills to…
      ha! his medical insurance would be fully covered, just like his meals and comfy cot.

  5. azmouse says:

    When I hear stuff like this about elderly people, my mind wants to reason it out and make it make sense to me….like these crazy drug people threatened to kill her Grandkids if she didn’t do it for them, or something to that affect. I can’t wrap my mind around her ‘doing it for the money’ or whatever….

    • Rynski says:

      it always makes me step back, too, when an elderly person commits some crime – esp. when it’s such a stupid one as drug smuggling or heinous one like killing a guard in the holocaust museum.
      i’d rather envision older folks like my dear old grandmas…ready to hug and love, not smuggle and kill.

  6. Pesqueira says:

    People often can not comprehend what poor desperate people will do. That is until their circumstances are the same as the poor and desperate. Then they themselves become cannibals. We judge so easily. Maybe if we were in the same circumstances we would act differently. I certainly hope so. 

    • Rynski says:

      thanks for input, pesqueira.
      i wish in knew more of the story behind the 94-year-old pot smuggler to better understand it – or understand it at all.
      you bring up a good point.

      i would not, however, generally say any punishment should be more lenient just because people are desperate.

      • tiponeill says:

        i would not, however, generally say any punishment should be more lenient just because people are desperate.
        Then you have nothing to worry about under our current system, where the richer you are the more lenient the “punishment”.

      • Rynski says:

        ha!
        oj simpson.

  7. leftfield says:

    It depends upon whether you view law as providing “justice” and “punishment”, or whether, as I do, you don’t believe that “punishment” makes us safer and rehabilitation and protection of the public should be our goal.

    I have to agree with Tip here.  I don’t know where grannie fits into the whole tamale, but dispassionate reason would say that rehabilitation and protecting the public should be the ultimate aims of the penal system.  But, some crimes in particular and fear of crime in general does tend to outrage and offend the public, leading to an emotional response that politicians are quick to pick up on and exploit.  Don’t get me wrong – I think an emotional response to a heinous crime is natural.  I just don’t think that emotion is the key to the answer to societal problems.

    BTW – why are especially nasty crimes usually “heinous” in the same way that a surgery with a poor outcome is “botched”? 

    • Rynski says:

      love your btw note, lefty – good question!
      agree emotional reaction is no way a good way to go about dispensing justice – but it sure feels good for about five minutes at least – hahah

  8. Guy Smith says:

    I think that now that granny is off the streets we can all sleep a lttle sounder tonight.One in one hundred Americans are in prison,and one in thirty are in jail or somekind of probation.either America has the most evil people on the face of the earth,or we have one screwed up judicial system.America is the only country that executes it’s own citizens.The only other countries that do.are the ones we detest.exe..Iran ,N.Korea,China.We spend an estimated $35,000.00 a year per inmate in prison.Prison is a place where violent criminals that are a threat to society should go.However they should have rehabilatation so that when they do get out,they can be productive members of society.We should allso treat them as such,for they have paid their debt to society,and should be treated just like everyone else.They shouldn’t have to pay for their crime for the rest of their lives.Non violent criminalls should be given fines,community service,probation,work release,but save the cells for the violent ones.

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