Perhaps some of us today are pondering crime and justice and retribution. I heard much "water cooler" philosophizing about these subjects last night. And I would like to tell a brief story.
Sometime in the middle of the last century there was a poor black woman whose husband decided to beat her. She did not want to be beaten. She picked up a pan of hot oil and threw it on him. That stopped him. The complications from his burns killed him. And this woman,who was the wrong color, who had the wrong lawyer, who had no money, went to prison for decades. Toward the end of her life the prison powers- that- be tried to send her home because she was now sick and harmless. There was no home. And so she lived on in a cell in the prison infirmary. She had a stroke, and lived in her bed. Her kidneys failed, and three times a week the nursing techs lifted her into a wheelchair and sent her out to the sally port to go to dialysis. Kevlar clad officers shackled her feet and hands. She would come back late in the afternoon, and her one desire was a Vanilla Wafer. She had bags of them and of peppermint candies in her cell. They were the great pleasure of her existence, along with cartons of watered down juice. She wheedled cookies from everyone she saw. She had to beg, for she could not walk over to her nightstand to get them for herself. She ate her wafers and watched her small regulation prison TV with its transparent plastic casing and its innards naked for all to see. This was her life, which ended a few months back.
No one will remember her. That is the story.