Friday, December 5, 2008

A Kinder, Gentler Prison Sentence. . .

Good grief.

I just read this entry at "A Swedish American in Stockholm"*, a blog I stumbled upon a few months ago. This particular entry is primarily his reaction to the news of a convicted murderer's escape in Stockholm.

The facts of the case are these:
  • The man was convicted of murder and attempted murder.
  • He was sentenced to 14 years, but would've been eligible for parole in July, after serving only ten years.
  • He escaped while he was out shopping with a couple of "guardians"! (Yes, you read that right. A convicted murderer still serving his sentence was out running a shopping errand!)
  • The "guardians" were surprised that he ran away (ha!), because apparently he was a model prisoner on his eight previous supervised temporary releases.
Let me reiterate: Good grief!

Well-- but really, it makes perfect sense. You can't keep someone cooped up like that without the occasional treat. You know, a little trip now and then for some variety. A chance to stretch his legs and mingle with society at this most festive time of the year. Keeping him shut away from the rest of the world without a holiday now and then would be inhumane. I mean, it's not like he's a murderer or something. Oh, wait. . .

The article closes with a reassuring message from the Stockholm police representative: The escaped prisoner is not considered dangerous. Well, thank goodness for that, at least! If he'd been one of those dangerous murderers-- one shudders to think what could happen! Of course, you brilliant people didn't think he'd try to escape in the first place, so who are you to say he's not a danger?

Well, I guess it's worth risking an occasional. . . "incident" like this, if it means those cherished prisoners are treated in a kinder, gentler fashion.

*The author of the blog is the son of an American woman and a Swedish man. As he puts it, "born in Sweden, raised in the US", he's now living (and "exploring his roots") in Sweden. His blog is mostly about his experiences as a cultural foreigner in a country where he is technically (not to mention genetically) a citizen. As someone whose potential children could someday be in the same situation, I find this subject interesting. Besides, I'm always entertained by people's reactions to and insights into Sweden. (These days, at least. Before I knew Donald, of course, that wasn't the case. But you'd already surmised that, so why am I still typing?)