Sunday, May 18, 2008

Old and Ailing Man Extradited

I am very interested in criminal justice or lack of criminal justice in the judicial system. Sometimes our moral and ethical judgment is tested in the interest of so called justice. In Raleigh, North Carolina an ailing 81-year-old man who escaped from a Maryland prison 43 years ago was taken into custody Friday to face extradition, a move his attorneys decried as a waste of time because he is ill and aging. Willie Parker, who suffers from several health problems, only served about a quarter of his sentence for robbery with a deadly weapon before escaping in 1965. He was tracked down in February as part of a Maryland effort to clear outstanding warrants.

Parker, who has been living in North Carolina, was unexpectedly arrested during a court hearing Friday and was held for about an hour before extradition documents arrived from the governor’s office. The question becomes why are they wasting our time with this old man? Parker is now a sick old man, requiring hospitalization at times, which the state of Maryland would have to pay the cost for if he is detained.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said Maryland officials will decide how much time he owes once he is returned. It is reported that he would essentially pick up where he left off; however it appears that he would be eligible for parole since he served a quarter of his sentence. He was arrested after Maryland authorities reviewing old case files discovered he had a North Carolina driver's license. U.S. Marshals found Parker in bed at a home in rural Clinton, a town south of Raleigh, where he was being cared for by a nurse. He suffers from diabetes, heart trouble, hepatitis and stroke complications.

I get the fact that this guy is a fugitive from justice albeit almost a half century has passed since his escape. I frankly cannot fathom what can be gained by arresting this man. He is no longer a threat or danger to anyone and would more than likely be a burden on the taxpayers of the state of Maryland. Have I got it wrong? Should he pay for his crime regardless of his health and age? Let me know your thoughts.


Middle Ditch said...

Never too old to learn, I always though that after ten years you were free. Where on earth did I get that from?

pjazzypar said...

You might be free in Great Britain, but not in the states. Thanks for visiting. I went over to your site and started listening to the show you created "Middle Ditch". I am happy that I can start from the beginning and hear all the shows. I imagine it's like listening to the radio back in my grandmother's day, but it's cool because I love vintage stuff.

Lori said...

Hmm, I have mixed feelings about this one. If you think about it, ole boy committed two crimes, first the ARMED robbery with a DEADLY weapon and then the escape.
His being old and sick doesn't erase his crimes or pay his debt to the society or the victims.

Overall, I think these kinds of situations should be looked at case by case. Were I in a position to decide (so glad I'm not), I'd be harder on those who'd commited murder, assault, and sex crimes. On the other hand, were I one the vicitims (or loved ones)of this fella's crimes and had had a gun held on me, I'd probably still want his a$$ to do some time.

If the state of Maryland or any other state were truly interested in saving money or lives, they'd spend more time, energy & resources educating & rehabilitating folks before they allowed them back into the general population.

With our health care system being what it is, chances are, ole boy would get better hospital care in prison than outside of it.

The Rock Chick said...

I have an AA in Law Enforcement, a BA in Criminal Justice, worked in a police department and am married to a cop. I'm probably a little biased :)

He is old and sick, yes and we're assuming (that's where I could get into trouble) that he reformed himself and has been squeaky clean for the past 50 years.

The truth is though that if he'd escalated as far as armed robberies, he probably hasn't. That's way different than shoplifting food or something because you're hungry. Not saying it couldn't happen, but my opinion is... it's unlikely. It's more likely he probably just hasn't been caught doing anything else. Sounds bad, I know.

On top of the armed robbery, he escaped from prison! My opinion is that they are not wasting their time and money prosecuting this man. There is no statute of limitations on a prison escape. Just because he's old and sick and managed to stay out of jail for 50 years should have nothing to do with it.

In my mind, this is more of a question of what gives him the right to commit and armed robbery and escape from prison? If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Sounds cliche, but I believe it.

So, yes, I think he absolutely should pay. He should have paid years ago, but he didn't and better late than never, I guess. Giving him a pass would just not be fair to everyone who does serve their sentence.

Just my 2 cents.....

pjazzypar said...


Yeah he was armed and dangerous 60 years ago. However at this moment in time he has one foot on a banana peel and the other one in the grave. If this guy was any type of threat at all then by all means sanction him and send him back to the pen. The bottom line is this guy is damn near dead already, so sending him to jail will probably hasten the process. You made a good point, he might be able to get better care in prison at the Maryland taxpayers cost.

What Mr. Parker did was awesomely bad, but rehabilitation can be affected by the individual. I have been involved with parolees and probationers and I have found that being incarcerated prepares individuals to be better criminals. You made some excellent points, especially in regard to murderers and sex offenders.


I am actually a doctoral candidate in criminal justice so we have more in common than you might know. I am not soft on crime, but more interested in rehabilitation than punishment which does not help the community the parolee returns to or society as a whole. Mr. Parker might not have been a model citizen (I don't know), but he was employed as the equivalent of a meter maid in New York. He is currently living off a pension and social security so he obviously held a job for some time after the escape.

If he had been caught a while back, then yes he should have been reintroduced to the system, but what purpose would it serve at this point? I appreciate your opinion on this topic, but I just feel we are way too interested punishment and not really interested in preparing individuals to return to society.

You might be interested in my dissertation topic "Reducing Recidivism: Promoting the Use of Comprehensive Programming to Enhance Parolee Reintegration". I will share when it is complete.

X. Dell said...

Interesting. By focusing on the crime, and not the situation, there seems to be little pretense that the reason for incarceration is punishment (vicarious revenge?), not rehabilitation or public safety.

There is no evidence that Parker has committed crimes while on the lam, is there? If so, we'll see what his emended sentence is. Maybe his attorneys can work out a deal for him. Otherwise, I don't see what good it does to lock up someone who's harmless except to satisfy a sense of outrage.

Lori said...

Lots of interesting logic and rational going on here (smile).

Well, if we're going to give Mr. Parker a pass, why not also give drug users and prostitutes passes as well? Aren't the latter pretty much victim-less crimes?

And while we're at it, let's start giving drunk drivers stiffer sentences, especially those whose actions maim and kill people.

The truth is, all criminals are a burden on the state and tax-payers. I have plenty of pity for Mr. Parker's loved one, but not so much for him or his plight given his past.

My question, who would have any problem making Mr. Parker pay if he'd been a guard at a concentration camp? A guard who'd never actually harmed anyone, but a guard nonetheless. What about some old racisit who'd helped orchestrate the beatings and torture of civil rights workers and the firebombing of their homes and business? But he'd never actually killed anyone?

What if either of the aforementioned individuals had been on the lam for years and upon being apprehended discovered to be old and sick, do we still give them a pass?

Yes, to some degree I am playing devil's advocate (smile). But really, we will all probably be old and sick, one day. That fact alone does not excuse us from paying for the s#!t we've done to others.

The Rock Chick said...

Hey Pjazzy!

I would love to read your dissertation! These kinds of topics interest me tremendously. I do agree that there should be more concentration on rehabilitating people, but I also think that the success of that is going to depend on the individual.

Obviously, I'm not soft on crime either and I do think that our punishment systems need an overhaul in a lot of ways. I'm very much in favor of home confinement for certain first time offenders depending on circumstances.

Do I believe that people can turn their lives around? Of course. Some can. I also believe that they have to want to do so. You can give some people access to just about anything and their sociopathic personalities just won't do it.

Regardless, I still think this man should have to answer for something regarding escaping from prison.

Interestingly,there was another case in the news recently about a woman who had escaped from prison and had married and had children. I think she had been out for 25 years or something. They arrested her, too. Her family had no idea who she really was or anything about her past.

I just glanced at that article, but I'm wondering if she was from Maryland, too.....I'll look her up.

This is a great post topic, by the way! I love reading everyone's opinions.

pjazzypar said...

X. Dell,

The United States penal system is out for vengeance and although the "Goddess of Justice" stands blindfold, holding a scale, justice is neither blind nor impartial. The problem with the punishment scenario is that no lessons are learned and nothing has been accomplished to enhance public safety. The jails are full of minority men who depended on overworked public defenders to get them their best shot at a fair trial.

Former offenders are paroled back into society with no skills, employment prospects, education, etc. Except they do get an education of sorts, they learn from the best how to be better criminals.


Please don't get me started on victimless crimes. Every time I hear of a sting operation to trap unsuspecting prostitutes it makes my skin crawl. What a waste of taxpayers' money that is! Another issue I have with preying on these women is that it is reeks of sexism. How are you going to arrest the women and not the men who have sex with them who are equally guilty of criminal activity. Probably more guilty because often times they have a wife and family at home. Can you say adultery?

I feel the same way about individuals whose only crime is being addicted to drugs. If they have to be incarcerated it should be in a full-scaled drug and alcohol rehabilitation program with detoxification and extensive counseling. That makes a lot more sense than throwing them in jail where coincidentally you can find more drugs than you can on the streets.

You see I don't feel sorry for Mr. Parker and in fact I believe in karma and the "you reap with you sow" concept. We don't know if Mr. Parker has not already paid or is currently paying for his past transgressions. Payment is not always court mandated, but in this society we like to think it is. Some forms of retribution is tougher and swifter than anything the judicial system can dole out. I am sure you know what I mean.

A guard at a concentration camp, hmm, I might give him the benefit of the doubt because he was taking orders from people in a higher position or following orders, much like the young people in our military. They are ordered to commit unspeakable atrocities in the name of patriotism.

The murderers of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Emmett Till, should have gone to jail, unfortunately they were never prosecuted, except in the case of Mr. Evers many years after the incident I might add. Your points are well taken.


It will be interesting how this one plays out. As I mentioned to Lori, there are a lot of ways to pay for misdeeds and who knows if he hasn't already paid in some form. I will go out on a limb and say pretty much no help in regards with turning ones self around can take place inside the prison walls. The sad part is our society, could do so much more than just warehouse offenders.

Guards are smuggling in drugs, staging fighting matches among offenders that are the equivalent of the matches fought in the Roman Coliseum, and subjecting these men and women to deplorable, subhuman conditions.

I appreciate that you feel this man owes some type of payment for his crime, I am just not sure that prison is the answer in this case. Oh yeah, you will be the first on my reader's list after I go through my committee.