The Price of Prison

Re: “Guarding Grandpa: Illinois is spending money it doesn’t have to keep convicts who can barely walk behind bars,” by Jessica Pupovac, January 6

I don’t know where you get the $56,000 price tag for nursing home care. I work in the industry and private pay nursing home care is $210 a day, maybe more if the senior needs more help.

Maybe the $56,000 price tag is what Medicaid pays, and someone like Heirens would need Medicaid, since he has never worked. But with Medicaid, the nursing home has to eat the difference, and that is why it is hard for a nonprisoner Medicaid patient to find an open Medicaid bed in the nursing home. The state pays either way, but the results would be fewer Medicaid beds for everyone else if the state just let these prisoners go.

I agree that the tougher laws against criminals are stupid. A guy in Indiana stole a ChapStick and it was his third offense, so if he is convicted he would have to spend life in prison. Is it in our best interest as a society to put such a person in prison for the rest of his life? We can’t think of another punishment that would make a point? —humstein

Excellent article on a critical and completely overlooked criminal justice and budget topic! This is astounding: “All told, the Illinois Department of Corrections spends roughly $428 million a year—about a third of its annual budget—keeping elderly inmates behind bars.” Has anyone noticed that this state has less than no money so we are borrowing from our future to pay for this and it is useless?

These old folks are harmless and most are completely reformed. The article explains that the risk goes way down for older people. They are simply not the same people after 20, 30, 40, 50 years. (Just like we are not!) What a shame to spend the money on this instead of preventing crimes, saving lives, and helping youth who look like they are about to screw up their lives. How can we reform society so not to let our budget priorities be ruled by hate? Bring in evidence-based policies and let’s lower recidivism and save money. PolicyCould

The state might pay for indigent medical care either way, but the state pays a hell of a lot more if you add useless incarceration to the equation. A regular maximum security prison costs at least $25,000 per year for a healthy prisoner!

There is nowhere more expensive for anyone, but especially a sick person, to be. There are all kinds of extra transport and hospital “guard” expenses which we pay these guards overtime for, such as a full-time guard to sit at the bed of a dying crippled elderly patient in case he escapes. It is lunacy.

AFSCME must love all that overtime pay. Good luck changing this policy into something reasonable when the union supports it. StafferAtHeart

How about electronic monitoring from a halfway house or nursing home for these inmates? But who would be responsible for monitoring these inmates?

If not that, I would not object to a case by case evaluation of release if the inmates were 65 or older and had a clean prison record. If that were done, would we use the money to lock up young offenders who commit violent crimes, or use the money saved, if any, to hire more teachers, more police officers, and have more after-school programs? Would we get the state out of debt that way? Or is this just another way to release prisoners, which is the goal of some interest groups, regardless of the cost to public safety? —salsbury

Unhappy Hour

Re: “The Missing Mural: Artist Tyrue ‘Slang’ Jones cries foul after his Violet Hour painting vanishes,” by Deanna Isaacs, January 6

Man, that’s sad. It reminds me of what happened to a fountain designed by my ceramics professor at the University of Alabama Dept. of Art.

In 1966, University of Alabama athletic director and football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant commissioned him to create a massive fountain in front of Paul Bryant Hall, a residence for university athletes. He designed the fountain as a huge shallow bowl held aloft on the shoulders of four life-sized, naked men. If you picture Atlas holding the Earth on his shoulders, multiply that times four and that’s what it looked like, in a idealized Art Deco style.

It seems the male nudity factor was a problem for the “jock dorm,” and during construction in 1988 to turn Bryant Hall into the Athletic Academic Center, the U of A’s Athletic Dept. chose to bulldoze the fountain. Apparently it never occurred to them that the artist who had created it might want to save his monument, so they never contacted him, even though he still lived nearby. —FPHayes

The artist seems to fail to understand the nature of the business he is in, and complaining about it makes him come across as unprofessional. I think he should have been made privy to just how long they planned on keeping the mural but it is clear they are under no obligation to do so. This article in a way validates the artist’s case and in my opinion serves no purpose. Also his claim that he wasn’t able to take “final pictures” just shows how he is obviously milking sympathy. Was he really going to go back weeks later to do this?—rndl

I love(d) Violet Hour and Danny’s, but no more. Seriously. First of all to pay an artist a mere 350 smackers for that type of work, when Violet Hour in few hours rings up that amount in drinks, is EXPLOITATIVE! Yes this gang of bar/restaurants robber barons “loves” artists, because they can exploit them, but then to wipe their royal noses with and dispose of them is even more cruel especially in these times.

I say boycott Blackbird, Avec, Big Star, Danny’s Tavern, the Publican, the Violet Hour. What have they become Republican Members of Congress? —Spook

Ok,so this guy cries ‘foul’ because his mural was removed? Sounds much like a case of bad business sense and an overinflated ego to me. The work looks good but let’s face it, it’s not Michelangelo. Next time get a legal contract. —Truthmonger