View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Evidently, the US Bureau of Prisons has been operating an "honor system" for convicted felons, whereby they're allowed to travel, unescorted, by plane, from one Federal lockup to another. "David Nelson? We'll need a DNA sample and a note from the Governor. Mr. Leyden, what a lovely orange outfit you're wearing. Please, have and extra bag of beer nuts." Remember, this is the guy for whom the "Prison Area - Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers" signs were created.

Now you would think that if you're going to allow convicted felons, unescorted, on airplanes, you'd at least have a guy waiting at the other end with a car, a pair of handcuffs and sign saying "Sideshow Bob," but no. In the case in question, the felon was supposed to turn himself in down at Florence, to make his own way down to the prison. Yes, he was responsible for getting himself from DIA to the prison. How? Do they give the guy his wallet, and new suit, and his driver's license back, too? And think of the drop-off charges. Greyhound doesn't even go to Florence (I checked), but if it did:

"Where would you like to go, sir?"

"Florence. One-way."

"Oh. Picking up a relative?

"Uh, no. Could you hurry up with that?"

"My we're in a rush. Usually people are eager to leave Florence."

"I know I will be."

"Would you like a return ticket? When will that be?"

"10 years. How long are these fares good for?"

"OK... Can you wait right there sir. I'll be right back."

The BOP says that this is all "more efficient." When it works, sure. But the temptations for guilty men to go play Richard Kimble for six months probably reduce the profit margin on this kind of operation. In the Other Laws That Don't Work the Way We'd Advertised Department, Mr. Leyden went and bought himself a gun. And I always thought that bit about only outlaws having guns was just a slogan.

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