One of the most agonizing experiences that a person can ever experience is getting locked away inside a prison. Everything about a person’s life changes when he is locked inside this barred room. It is not just about getting restricted access to the amenities and comforts of life. It is more than just being thrown into a tiny jail cell, cramped because there are already too many inmates. It is also much more than just having to wear an orange prisoner’s suit and be under the custody of the law. Truly, there is security, food, clothing, and even medical care for those who are sick; however, freedom is taken away.The freedom to speak, do and act makes prisoners different from a “free man.” This suppression of freedom is the main reason why such an experience is an agonizing one. No comforts given in prison can match the joy of living as a free person. It is even better to lack the basic necessities of life as long as one has freedom. It is the hope and the capability to think and act freely that makes life worth living. It is also a major source of hope that the future holds something better than what the past and the present have to offer. Take away one’s freedom and all hope goes with it.
Some people are fortunate enough to stay in prison for a short time but some would have to live the rest of their lives inside a prison cell. There are several people who have lived inside the prison cell almost all their lives. These people would have endured long years of incarceration, living each day in monotony and uncertainty of whether they can ever see daylight and breathe fresh air as a free people. Some had even died inside this four-corner barred room without ever again seeing the outside world. One would probably ask as to who is the oldest person to survive in prison?
There are several people on the list if one wants to know who the oldest person to survive in prison is. In the course of prison history all over the world, several people have spent decades inside the prison cell. One of the candidates for such list is Harvey Stewart who received a parole in 2011 after serving for over 60 years in a Texas prison. He was 85 years old during that time. Stewart was sentence to life imprisonment for murdering a person named James Laird. This crime, together with robbery, led to Stewarts’ detention in July 1958. He was at the peak of his life and youth when he was sentenced to life in prison. He spent his most productive years wasting away in prison, unable to pursue any career or make any contribution to society, not even to the welfare of his family. He was released when he was already an old man. Being a free man, Stewart wanted to visit the case to prove that the murder was actually an act of self-defense as the victim, Laird, wanted to kill him. Even after spending his most productive years in prison and then getting released at an old age, he was still determined to prove his innocence. He knows he can’t bring those lost years back even if he was able to prove his innocence. However, it was setting the record straight that gives him the determination to revisit his case.
Another candidate for the question “Who is the oldest person to survive in prison?” is Drayton Curry, 92 years old. Curry had been petitioning the Obama administration to grant him clemency from his nearly 20-year imprisonment. Curry was incarcerated because of drug conviction. Since 2007, he and his lawyers filed a request for clemency so he could spend the rest of his life with his family. Sadly though, he died even before the parole was granted by the Obama administration. He died on October 16, 2012 at the prison in North Carolina. His death was due to heart and kidney ailments.
Outside the United States, a Hindu priest named Brij Bihari Pandey is probably the one who could fill in the number one slot on the list of “Who is the oldest person to survive in prison?” At the age of 108, he became a free man after servicing 24 years in prison. In 1987, he was arrested along with 15 men for the murder of four people. Pandey was released after his son made a request under the grounds of ill health. He was, after all, very, very old. He has lived longer than most people, even if he spent the last 24-plus years of it in prison.
These are some prisoners who stayed in jail for a long time. There are a lot who went in as young and spirited and came out old and weak. Some were imprisoned when they were already old and still lived long lives while incarcerated. Some of them were able to receive a parole, some of them were not. Some of these prisoners accepted the accusation against them, some of them would not. Some even went as far as requesting re-opening of their cases after they were granted parole in a bid to prove that they were wrongfully accused. Whether or not these people should have been in jail or not is always up to the authorities’ decision. No matter what case a prisoner may be facing, each of them is hoping that one day, in spite of their loss of freedom, they would be heard and be granted a parole. How long that hope lasts depends on the inmate’s spirit, perspective, and willingness to overcome their predicament. Some may have already spent their best days in prison and are growing old but they still retained the hope that one day, they will become free. Some lose hope after a few days in jail and settle into prison life, committing more crimes rather than improving themselves and doing what they can to reduce their sentences.