More than ten years ago, a woman retained me to look into the case of her one-time boyfriend who was serving thirty years to life in Lucasville. (That’s Ohio’s maximum-security prison.) I learned that he’d taken a plea bargain to avoid a possible death sentence. He had been charged with stabbing a convenience store clerk to death in order to steal a case of beer. Shortly after that incident, his girlfriend discovered that she was pregnant. Welcome to the world, kid. You are so screwed. I found the visitor’s waiting room at Lucasville one of the most depressing places I’ve ever seen. A great many women with children, and most of the white women had biracial kids. Well, maybe one of those kids will grow up to become President, but that’s not where the smart money goes.
I did speak with the young man at some length and found no basis for an appeal. Trying to be useful, I did manage to make one helpful recommendation: that when his first parole hearing rolled around in twenty years, that he might want to get rid of the three-inch swastika tattooed on the back of his left hand.
Just recently, another lawyer pointed out to me that, perhaps, that young man’s tattoo was not so much a political statement as an effort to protect himself from would-be predators.