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Prisoner

On April 10, 1934, Clyde Barrow wrote a letter to Henry Ford: “While I still have got breath in my lungs I will tell you what a dandy car you …

My immediate reaction to Madoff's request was a personal one: Why should he get out to die, when the judges imprisoned my father with just weeks to live? Madoff's lawyers say he has maybe 18 months left in him. He's been in prison nearly 11 years.

I don't wish to be cruel. I wince seeing the terminally ill suffer in jail, my dad, Madoff or anyone else. First Step seems like a reasonable attempt at reducing mass incarceration in the United States — case by case, on their merits, under specific guidelines.

But Madoff's request has unexpectedly forced me to face something basic about being a citizen: Can you live with what you think is abstractly good even if is not good for you personally? In my case, can I say it's fine that Madoff may get to die freely when my father could not - even if I believe that people like him should be shown compassion?

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“It is inappropriate to utilize the machinery of the state to promote one religion over another religion or over non-religion,” a Wednesday letter from the organization says. “The government may accommodate prisoners who wish to worship in a certain way, but the government cannot plan and implement religious schooling, much less a seminary, or a Bible college for prisoners."

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