Italian-Style Buyout

My next novel, Buyout, concerns the consequences of a charter program under which prison inmates serving life sentences are able to take buyouts. The insurance company calculates the reserve amount they’re going to have to have on hand to feed/clothe/house/treat/litigate and offers the inmate X percent. In return, the inmate takes the Golden Needle.

In some conversations about the book, people have said they thought that it would never work because very few prisoners–despite their bellyaching–would actually want to go out that way, whatever the financial incentive. But (belatedly) I ran across* the following news item:

Hundreds of prisoners serving life sentences in Italy have called on President Giorgio Napolitano to bring back the death penalty.

Italy has approximately 1300 inmates serving life terms. 310 of them signed that letter. Of the tens of thousands of inmates serving life terms in US prisons, how many would follow suit?

*Actually I read it in the August 2007 Harper’s, and then looked it up online.

One thought on “Italian-Style Buyout”

  1. Way to spark interest. Would have to read the book before I knew how much “reality” (but come on now, what is truth) I would have to suspend. I’m sure many life termer’s are suicidal and a cash incentive would really motivate them. So that’s a no brainier in this crazy world. I don’t want to say that it would never work but there are many reasons that it would not happen. For instance insurance companies may not want to cooperate and also lawyer fees would be through the roof working out a deal. I’m sure the insurance companies would want to jade these inmates out of as much money as possible. What if when all was said and done the actual payout before taxes was ten grand. But to me that’s just a very scary near future concept. And I hope it is not so near future. But really what I think is more plausible are labor camps. That way the prison can act as a corporation making products and providing services for very cheap labor. You work 12 hours a day for three hots and a cot. This will elevate some of the burden on the tax payers. But what will eventually happen is that people will become slaves again. And the police and judicial system will be corrupted and false accuse and convict people to provide more slaves. And so on and so forth. But I am interested to see what you have done with the idea.

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