Dear editor:

Couldn’t you have chosen a better subject for your lead story in the February 16 issue? The “No Mercy” article argues that so-called “C-number” prisoners, e.g., those who have served many years in prison and are now elderly, should be released in order to save money, and besides, haven’t they been punished enough already? Also, it is implied that public officials are afraid to do it because it would hurt them politically.

Why should these “C-numbers” get mercy? They’ve committed heinous crimes and are serving the terms they originally got. If the rules have changed since they received their sentences, it’s their tough luck. Just because these criminals are now old doesn’t mean they are any better than their younger counterparts. None of the “C-numbers” featured in the article show any sign of remorse for the harm they did their victims or their families.

As far as saving money is concerned, how much would really be saved by letting the “C-numbers” out? They cannot be expected to go out and earn a living, especially if their health is bad. They’d end up having to live on public assistance anyway, so where is the cost savings? Arguably they should be moved out of regular prison into their own facility, but that is not the same as clemency.

Instead of worrying about how criminals fare, how about showing more concern to the innocent victims of crime? These people deserve far more sympathy–and get far less attention in the media–than criminals, “C-numbers” or otherwise. How about some mercy for them?

Thomas Q. Radigan