Are you better off than you were 6 years ago, or 12 years ago when the Republicans took over congress? Desi, the web mistress of Mia Culpa, one of my favorite blogs has a sad story today of how desparate some people have become.
Columbus, Ohio - A man who couldn’t find steady work had a plan to make it through the three years until he could collect Social Security payments: He robbed a bank teller, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.
Timothy J. Bowers, of Columbus, told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.
“At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum wage jobs. There is age discrimination out there,” Bowers explained Wednesday in a quiet voice to Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Angela White.
He turns 63 in a few weeks and said he would receive full Social Security benefits at 66.
As Desi points out after she provides the full article:
And so even among lawyers and community leaders, no one had a better alternative for Timothy J. Bowers than convicting him of a felony, and sending him off to prison. I don't know if I could think of a sadder commentary on the times we're living in today.
Our congress has done very well for millionaires and corporations, but the "little guy" like Timothy Bowers is getting screwed over. It is a sad day in this country when the best place for some financial security, "3 hots and a cot" as they say, is the County jail or State prison.
The Fort Wayne, Indiana, News-Sentinel had an interesting article on 12/01/99 on "Prisoners of Age: Growing old behind bars". The article says in part:
Add all those factors together and it's guaranteed that the average age of the country's prison population will continue to climb. With that increase comes the unique and expensive problems older inmates pose.
The most obvious is health care. Like anyone else, the older prisoners become, the more health problems they are likely to have. A study earlier this year by the California Department of Correction said dealing with Alzheimer's disease will be "one of the most challenging aspects of an increasingly aging population." Two years ago, Indiana corrections officials who responded to a survey by the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives listed senility and dementia and the need for a hospice program as high on the list of special needs for elderly inmates. Meeting those challenges won't be cheap, states are learning. The center reports that the cost of incarcerating an elderly inmate averages $69,000 a year. Virginia recently spent more than $61 million on only 891 older prisoners. Edward L. Cohn, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, says the state's average per-diem cost of keeping a prisoner — about $17,000 a year — won't increase if the prisoners stay healthy, but admits that's a pipe dream.
If the average cost of incarcerating an elderly inmate in 1999 was $69,000 per year, can you imagine what it would be today in 2006? It seem to me that the cost to the state of Ohio to incarcerate Timothy J. Bowers for 3 years will be far more than what it would cost to give him some financial assistance.
It makes my ache as a Social Worker, and as a citizen, when I reflect on how far wrong we have gone as a society when we are willing to spend billions of dollars a month on Iraq and put people like Timothy J. Bowers in jail.