Whatever happened to....

Jack Abbott

Over on the delightful Miss Snark's blog Miss Snark, Literary Agent, she made a passing reference to getting discovered by writing Norman Mailer from prison. She included a link in case a reader didn't know why that was "funny."

I knew to what she referred, but I found myself interested in the sad life of Jack Abbott, a man who quite simply could not be saved, even by the likes of Norman Mailer, Susan Sarandon who named her son after Jack Henry Abbott, and others who tried.

Abbott, incarcerated from the age of 12, should never have been released from prison, regardless of the raw literary power he possessed. Yes, I believe he was a victim of the penal system, but he was also a person who, even at a young age, could not fit into society and live by its rules. What made anyone think that being released into society would make this man, who lived by the "code" of the prisons and who had killed a man in prison, able to live a "normal" life? Has any man or woman with a similar background ever been able to achieve a successful life on the outside when paroled?

Of course, I'll admit, I've lived long enough to freely own up to cynicism. I'm no expert of any kind, yet, I've always believed intensive therapy and education are two things that should be required for all prisoners. They don't need more gym equipment to pump up their muscles. They don't need cable television. They need to grow a conscience, but, sadly, that train left the station a long time ago.

Education and psychological counseling are two things that might help, but how do you retrain someone who has no sense of empathy? Sure seems like there are a lot of people out there now that fit that description.

It's a scary world we live in, ladies and gentlemen.

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