Punishment Is Forever

The St. Petersburg Times reports on how the Hillsborough County (Florida) commission has voted to ban three-time felons from an indigent health care program run by the county. The health plan has fallen into financial crisis, and the change was presented as a way to cut costs. This seems rather shortsighted, given that the original purpose of the health plan was to coax indigent and homeless people into clinic and preventive care, bolstering public health while cutting down on more expensive emergency room visits. The real motive for the change appears to be pure vindictiveness.

"These criminals are violating the very people who are paying for their plan," the commission chair, Jim Norman, said, notwithstanding the fact that felons who have been released have, by definition, already paid for their crimes.

Tom Scott, a commissioner who opposed the change, seemed to figure out that budget constraints probably had little to do it: "You punish somebody forever, I have a real problem with that."