The Rock

We took a ferry over to see the Rock. It was a very depressing place. There is one section of the prison where a special presentation by prisoners of age challenged my thinking about incarceration.

The presentation consists of a series of posters with photographs and quotations from older prisoners. There is a quote from Helmut Buxbaum. He is over 60 years of age. He was imprisoned for arranging the murder of his wife. The Buxbaum family were members of a church that we used to attend when we were in London, Ontario.

His words:

Everybody regrets. About five minutes after you commit a crime, you regret the crime. Many old people are in prison today because they committed a crime in 10 to 20 seconds. And for that they are sentenced to spend the rest of their life living in a washroom. It just doesn’t make sense.

The conditions for the prisoners of Alcatraz were very grim indeed. The cells were nothing more than a water closet, sink and bed. The environment was very depressing.

I’m not sure if all prisons are like this one. But it did make me think about the humanity of imprisonment for long periods of time in unpleasant environments. There is no doubt in my mind that such forms of imprisonment, even for short periods of time, is punishment.

On a brighter note, we had a bit of time to check out the Hyde Street Pier Historic Ships. Lorraine took a picture of me at the wheel of the Eureka. My new beard gives me an air of being a nautical person.

Richard On Deck

9 replies
  1. Steve
    Steve says:

    I read a bit on that “Prisoners Of Age” website. Very facinating. I would have to conclude that the reason no one has ever considered this problem before is because never before was there an age of with even close to the amount of medical knowledge as we have now, and the rights of prisoners have never be so humane. What I’m trying to say is that in the past very few people had the opportunity to grow old in prison because conditions would cause them to die. Now everyone is kept alive for years and years. Once again very facinating, but as the topic of incarceration often is, also very heavy on the heart.

  2. Angus Pangus
    Angus Pangus says:

    Helmut Buxbaum said THAT? Who is he to imply that maybe he himself is one of those who committed a crime of passion and therefore should not have to endure the “injustice” of living in a washroom forever. Buxbaum planned and planned his wife s death over a period of time…read the book. It is difficult to sympathize with him. So maybe he was barking mad, so what? Where does that leave Hanna, his saintly wife? Mouldering away, 6 feet under.

  3. Richard Cleaver
    Richard Cleaver says:

    Hello Angus,

    The point of the post was my reflection on the humanity of imprisonment over long periods of time in unpleasant environments. I don’t recall advocating the injustice of Buxbaum’s imprisonment in the post. He committed a serious crime and he is being punished. Of that, there is no doubt.

    I referenced Buxbaum’s quote because I knew the Buxbaum family through my association with a church in London. I was surprised that Buxbaum was quoted in the presentation.

    I am very familiar with the Buxbaum case although thank you for encouraging me to re-read the book.

  4. Rena
    Rena says:

    I worked in one of Buxbaum’s nursing homes in London as a teenager/young woman. If you want to talk about imprisonment over long periods of time in an unpleasant environment…as young and inexperienced and stupid as I was, I knew that the conditions in that place were wrong. I have never understood how that place (and likely others of his ownership) escaped the scrutiny of authorities. The people who were unlucky enough to spend their last years in that place did nothing to deserve what they endured. That is the hell of it.

  5. Greg Calcott
    Greg Calcott says:

    I was one of the investigators in Mr. Buxbaum’s case. He has never taken resposibility for his crime. It was not a spontaneous act which landed him in prison. It was a planned event that took over 6 months, from it’s inception to the shooting of his wife. He had contacted several people during this time to find someone who would do it for him. Also, the one million dollar insurance policy was taken out 4 months prior to the shooting. I see Mr. Buxbaum remains as delusional now as he was the day I arrested him.

  6. Trevor
    Trevor says:

    Helmut is home now to face his God. I’m sure Hanna met him with open arms, as she was a caring and compassion women who would forgive. His pain of dealing with his actions and consequences is over.
    (I was a friend of his eldest daughter during the those sad times.)

  7. Gertrud
    Gertrud says:

    I am a member of the Buxbaum-Family and I know how much grief Helmuth has caused. But I also know that Hanna and his Mother have forgiven him and he is now facing the judgement of his Lord.

  8. Pete Laitinen
    Pete Laitinen says:

    My wife attended the same church as Buxbaum during the commission of his crime. As bad as his conditions may have been, his wife was significantly worse off.

    He’s dead now, wonder how he likes his new surroundings?

  9. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    My mother was associated to buxbaum, quite closely actually. I was never told about him until recently. I have a question for anyone who may know the answer. I just read an article about how he had fathered a child with one of the women he had an affair with, does anyone know anything at all about this? please feel free to e-mail me. thank you


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