Thursday Roundup - Multimedia Edition
Yes, I know, we're doing the Roundup a day early. I'm on the road tomorrow, and won't be back in town until Sunday. So no post tomorrow or Monday; we'll have the Case Update next Tuesday.
Interesting juxtaposition. No, that's not a picture of the TV room of the local nursing home. It's a photo of the TV room at the Estelle Unit of the Texas Prison System. Its website professes it to be a "Type II geriatric facility with wheelchair capabilities," and its purpose, as you might gather, is to house elderly inmates.
Better health care and the post- WWII baby boom have swelled the ranks of the elderly in this country -- the fastest growing segment of the American population is those over 85 -- and that's also affected the prison population.
It's only going to get worse. There are other factors at play here, including the abolition of parole for most crimes, "three strikes" laws, and the increasing use of life imprisonment without parole. And long sentences are no longer imposed only for homicide; indeed, a New York Times survey in 2004 found that of those sentenced to life in prison between 1988 and 2001, one-third were serving time for sentences other than murder, including burglary and drug crimes. The poster boy for this is George Martorano, who was sentenced to prison in 1982 for marijuana possession and drug conspiracy. Twenty-eight years later, he's still there, described in one article as "the longest-serving nonviolent first-time offender in the history of the United States." And, because of the intervening abolition of Federal parole, he still has decades to go. The net effect of all this? Projections show that by 2030, a full one-third of the prison population will be over fifty-five. The number of female inmates over that age in California has increased 350 percent in the last decade.
There's a consequent effect on costs. Georgia spends $8500 a year on medical costs for inmates over 65, compared to $950 for those under 65. It now has a special prison for elderly inmates. As this article notes,
"With the elderly population, we're beginning to run something comparable to nursing homes," says Sharon Lewis, medical director for the Georgia Department of Corrections. "This is one of the unhealthiest populations found anywhere. They really lived life hard."
So it was interesting that while reading the local fishwrap with my cup of joe yesterday morning, I came across a brief blurb under the "Law and Order" section noting that the Ohio Parole Board denied parole for William Perryman, who was convicted in 1978 of killing an Akron grocer. Credit for the denial goes to Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh; at least, she was eager to claim credit for it, noting in a news release that "her office has opposed Perryman's release twice since she took office and will continue to oppose his release as long as she's prosecutor."
Williams' next parole hearing will be in 2015, when he will be 69.
Bullshit lawsuit of the week. There have been some great TV commercials in the annals of American advertising, but few can top the E-Trade Baby, whose latest appearance was during the Super Bowl:
The line about "that milkaholic Lindsay" engendered a $100 million lawsuit by Lindsay Lohan, whose attorney claims that she is now a one-name celebrity, such as Oprah or Madonna (sans career, apparently), and that the commercial is a "subliminal message" unfairly and without compensation appropriating his client's name.
This has caused me some consternation. A year or so ago, I lauded John Martin, éminence grise of the appellate bar, for "spending more time before the Supreme Court than Lindsay Lohan does in rehab." Admittedly, my blog posts don't receive quite as much distribution as a Super Bowl ad, but still... At any rate, contributions to my legal defense fund are welcome, and should it turn out that I'm simply borrowing trouble on all this, you can rest assured that your money will still be put to good use.
And there were those who thought attorney advertising might have an impact on the view of lawyers as professionals...