I write to say how pleased I am to see another Maine Voices by Jeffrey Libby, an inmate at the Maine State Prison in Warren (“Contact with media is helpful for inmates who want to rejoin society,” March 21).

I was very disturbed when I read that Mr. Libby had been told to stop writing to the Press Herald for publication purposes. This seemed to me to be a clear violation of the First Amendment, and I was very glad to see that officials at the Maine Department of Corrections reversed their policy.

I looked up Mr. Libby online out of curiosity. Thirty years ago, he killed his grandfather by drowning – he has been in prison for 30 years and will remain there for a further 30 years because Maine does not offer parole.

Therefore, in 30 years’ time, a man in his early 80s will be released into a world with which he is completely unfamiliar (no Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook in prison). If he is lucky enough to have family living, he may be welcomed home. If he is not, what are the chances of success for a person of that age who is just totally confused as to how the modern world works?

Please understand that I’m not condoning what Mr. Libby did: He killed someone, and by any standards at all, that is a truly wrong thing. But 60 years in prison – does that not seem ridiculously excessive, especially if he has been a model prisoner (and I don’t know whether he has or not)?

If prison is truly meant to be rehabilitative in any way, which I have always understood and hoped to be the case, surely a prison sentence should be enough to mark the severity of the crime, but not purely punitive, as a 60-year sentence seems to be.

Deborah F. Coward

South Portland


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