Oct 17, 2008

Italian-Style Buyout

My next novel, Buyout, concerns the consequences of a charter program under which prison inmates serving life sentences are able to take buyouts. The insurance company calculates the reserve amount they're going to have to have on hand to feed/clothe/house/treat/litigate and offers the inmate X percent. In return, the inmate takes the Golden Needle.

In some conversations about the book, people have said they thought that it would never work because very few prisoners--despite their bellyaching--would actually want to go out that way, whatever the financial incentive. But (belatedly) I ran across* the following news item:

Hundreds of prisoners serving life sentences in Italy have called on President Giorgio Napolitano to bring back the death penalty.

Italy has approximately 1300 inmates serving life terms. 310 of them signed that letter. Of the tens of thousands of inmates serving life terms in US prisons, how many would follow suit?

*Actually I read it in the August 2007 Harper's, and then looked it up online.
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