Meet Jahmir Ricks
But it's also about what goes on at our privately-run country prison and the importance of having good public oversight. Which is to say a good, smart superintendent making sure the prison runs according to Hoyle and the contract the county has with GEO.
Acting Superintendent John Reilly is such a guy.
He says he's proud of the professionalism of the staff out there and invites anyone who's interested to come out for a tour. It's an eye-opening and pretty interesting experience.
Of course, I went out so you don't have to. But all are welcome, says Reilly, come into the light. He'll show you a few things.
One thing that didn't make the column:
On our way out of the jail, Reilly pointed to a silver-haired, gentleman in a glass both. His name is Eddie Martin. He's been working at the prison for years.
When Reilly was a DA, he reminded me, he prosecuted the man who raped and murdered Eddie Martin's daughter. His name is Wayne Smith and he is on Death Row today.
It is unlikely, however, Smith will ever be executed. His appeals for a new trial continue to this day and the commonwealth would commute his sentence (essentially) to life but so far Smith refuses to go for it.
I remember the trial. I wrote about it when defense attorney Ray Williams dramatically announced to Judge Anthony Semeraro he was quitting the case because he didn't like one of the judge's rulings.
Eventually, they worked things out but Smith, I understand, is hanging part of his appeal on that jailhouse favorite: ineffectiveness of counsel.
Too bad, some will say, the people of Pennsylvania can't appeal Smith's appeal, charging ineffectiveness of justice when it comes to putting convicted murderers to death in this state. But then maybe an innocent man or two -- the name Nick Yarris springs to mind -- might not be alive today.
UPDATE: Let's remember, thanks to DNA testing such mistakes are less and less likely to ever be made.