The golden years are a time to reflect, relax, kick back on a porch swing – or smuggle marijuana across the border.
Such was the case for a 94-year-old Mexican woman who was busted March 30 for attempting to smuggle 10 1/2 pounds of pot through the Nogales Port of Entry’s Morley Pedestrian Gate, according to a Border Patrol news release.
Agents found the six packets of pot strapped to her body, from her torso to her legs.
The thought of her full body strip search is not a pretty one.
This little old lady is not the old folk out there committing crimes.
James W. von Brunn, who reportedly burst into Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum with a rifle in June 2009 and shot a guard dead, was 88.
If elderly people want to dabble in the what’s-left-of-their life of crime, that’s their choice. Last we checked, it is a free country.
The problem arises, however, when the country becomes much too free and these old folks end up with little or no punishment.
If old folks are hearty enough to commit a crime, they should be hearty enough to do the time.
Yet sympathy prevails. A study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology surveyed 102 people, giving them a scenario of a crime. The study then gave descriptions of different subjects who committed the crime – juvenile, adult and elderly – and asked for input.
“Findings showed that the elderly criminal was perceived in a significantly more positive manner than the adult or juvenile criminal and that the elderly criminal received a significantly more lenient sentence than the adult criminal,” the summary said.
Felons who started out young but inevitably get old also get a break. They can get out of prison early if they are “experiencing deteriorating physical or mental health because of the aging process that substantially diminishes the ability of the defendant to provide self-care within the environment of a correctional facility,” according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission and noted in a Newsweek report.
After all, most cells don’t have ample room to fit in oxygen tanks and walkers. And what about the cost?
Arizona man Phil Cisneros was arrested on a lingering warrant in 2007 at the age of 83, according to an article in the Phoenix New Times.
The warrant was for failing to appear in court on a DUI charge nine years prior. He was sentenced to three years in prison. No word on if he’s still alive.
“(Cisneros) suffers from prostate cancer, diabetes, pulmonary hypertension, sleep apnea, shingles, dizziness, and shortness of breath. He’s had double-bypass surgery. He’s extremely hard of hearing. And then there’s the emotional stress he’s under — his beloved wife, the second Lucy Cisneros, has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy,” the article said.
Cisneros’ lawyer said his client’s medical bills would cost the prison system, thus taxpayers, $65,000 each year.
While his case is a sympathetic one, perhaps Cisneros should have thought of all this before he decided not to show up in court.
And anyone who says elderly criminals should be given a break – or a free pass out of prison – should also remember one thing.
This year Charles Manson turns 76.
What do you think?
Should elderly criminals get special treatment or get treated like the rest of ’em?
Would your grandma ever smuggle pot across the border?
How should elder care costs be covered in prison?
If elderly criminal treatment should depend on the circumstance, what are the parameters?