Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How are things in Dannemora?

To all of us who never studied penology (pause for laughter) there is a certain confusion about how two murderers in New York State were able to walk out of what they call a maximum security prison in the town of Dannemora.

Sweat and Matt
The whole sorry episode reminds us of all the episodes of a really cheesy tv show like "Prison Break," in which a guy deliberately gets sent to prison to free his brother, wrongfully convicted of a crime He Did Not Commit. And the hero had all the architectural plans for the Big House tattooed on his body, so as to provide a road map of the way to freedom.

And that show was reminiscent of the movie "The Shawshank Redemption," in which Tim Robbins chips his way to freedom underneath Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, and Raquel Welch. Sort of.

But this real life caper has everything going for it.  And I'm writing this yesterday, so by now, convicts Matt and Sweat (which makes it sound like a high school wrestling movie) might be back in a hoosegow somewhere.  NY officials have cleverly narrowed the search area to the United States, Canada and Mexico.

And the leader of the NY State Police squad looking for them is named Major Guess.

And just like in the movies, they think that maybe a prison employee might be in on it, so they are interviewing a woman who works there.  She is a supervisor (or, was) in the industrial services department at the Ironbar Hilton.  These two gentlemen, Sweat and Matt, were serving long sentences for murder. Matt kidnapped a man and beat him to death in December 1997. His sentence was 25 years to life for three counts of murder, three counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery. Sweat was serving a life sentence without parole in the killing of Kevin Tarsia, a sheriff's deputy, in 2002.

Just like in every bad movie, the pair left decoys stuffed beneath their covers to trick guards into thinking they were asleep in their bunks -- and a yellow sticky note with a smiley face. It read, "Have a Nice Day!"

So, since prison makes sense, these two model citizens were deemed "honor prisoners" and allowed to wear civilian clothing and carry power tools around the pen in a guitar case, because prison should be more like a college dormitory.

No one asked me, but how about let's say you kill someone, especially a cop, and we will send you to jail forever and ever, and you will wear stripes or orange jumpsuits and you will not have a guitar case or access to power tools and we will make your life almost as unpleasant as it is for the families and loved ones of the people you killed while you were out on the street.  How does that sound?

And if prison officials say that's easy to say, now that the escape happened, I will tell them I would have told them the same last week at this time, while Matt and Sweat were still where they are supposed to be.

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