The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 11, 2013

Prison should be a place for punishment

I was perusing The Register-Herald this morning, as I do each and every morning, when I came upon the article about Phyllis Gaspell and her plea for a reduction in sentences to avoid overcrowding in our prison system in West Virginia.

What is this lady thinking? I applaud her motherly desire to help her son, but the article was so lacking in information that I am surprised that The Register-Herald even printed it.

First of all, what are the circumstances surrounding her son’s conviction? “I’m just asking for justice. He’s already served eight years for one punch” was a direct quote from Mrs. Gaspell.

She went on to say that a first degree murder charge (which is pre-meditated murder) “can lead to a term of six to eight decades.” I assume this to mean that she feels this is an excessive sentence. My question is, what about the victim and the victim’s family. They do not have a six to eight decade sentence; they have a sentence without limits, because their loved one is dead.

She goes on to plea for more liberal parole rules. Yes, that is just what we need. Set the prisoners free who can’t seem to follow rules in prison. I am sure they will then follow all the rules (which we call laws) that society places on them. The reason they are denied paroles is that they are not exhibiting behavior that would indicate rehabilitation. They are exhibiting the same behavior which got them into jail in the first place.

If it is a prison rule that you not have a cell phone, then why cry because the prison officials punish those who are caught with cell phones? The solution is simple — don’t have a cell phone!

This article sums up the most serious problem with the prison system today. We do not send people to prison to punish them for wrongdoing; we send them to prison so they can have air conditioned cells, color TV, a chance to get a law degree, etc.

I say bring back the “Cool Hand Luke” style of prisons. Make it a place no one wants to go. Put the prisoners on road gangs and have them work in the hot sun. Maybe then, criminals will think twice about committing a crime.

 Louis Szuch

Bradenton, Fla.

formerly of Mount Hope