The Justice Cooperative
The Justice Cooperative
Copyright ©2012 Joseph P. Martino
“Oh, my God! No!”
Tom Borden grabbed the remote and thumbed the OFF button. The news anchor’s face shrunk to a
point and disappeared.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
Judith Borden stood up and strode to his chair. Wordlessly, she thrust the newspaper at him. The
headline seemed to leap off the page.
JUDGE ORDERS PRISONERS RELEASED
Capitol City, June 2. Federal District Court Judge Oliver Woods today ruled that the state’s
prisons were overcrowded. “This overcrowding is a violation of the Constitutional protection
against cruel and unusual punishment,” the judge stated. Under Judge Woods’s order, all prisoners
who have served more than half their sentences, except those who have records of violence within
the prison, are to be released immediately to eliminate overcrowding.
A spokesman for the governor’s office later met with reporters. “We disagree with the ruling, but
there is no point in appealing”, he said. “The State Attorney General has pointed out that all the legal
precedents support the judge’s ruling. Moreover, it would be nearly impossible to get a stay of the ruling
while we appealed. Accordingly, we will begin to release the prisoners tomorrow. It is unfortunate that
during the last session the legislature refused to appropriate the additional funds for prison construction
that the governor had requested. The governor sees no point in calling the legislature back into
emergency session to reconsider the matter, since new prisons could not be constructed in time to satisfy
the judge’s order. The governor plans to renew his request for additional prison construction early in the
The Majority Leader of the House denied that the problem lay with the legislature. “We tried to
accommodate the governor, but he wouldn’t budge on an increase in the sales tax to pay for prison
construction. He insisted the money come from cuts somewhere else in the budget. We tried to
compromise by taking it out of funds for highway construction, but he refused. Maybe next year he’ll be
There was more, but Tom paid it no attention. He lowered the paper as his wife began to speak. Her
voice was icy and flat, as though she didn’t dare trust it to carry any emotion.
“You know what this means, don’t you? Harry Grubbs will be turned loose. He’s ten days past the
midpoint of his sentence.”
Both he and Judith had been dreading Grubbs’s eventual release. He knew her emotional scars went
deep. He should have known that she’d been counting down the days.
The images of that night came flooding back to him, tumbling over one another.