Friday, July 30, 2010

The Great Escape

Spent a bit of time yesterday in one of my favorite places. Northern State Prison is a State correctional facility. There are some who will express regret at learning that my stay there was (a) relatively brief; and (b) wholly voluntary as opposed to being of an indeterminate length and at the request of the Governor or some such bigwig. I was there because among the matters that I am defending is an auto accident case in which my client - one of the drivers and therefore one of the defendants in the suit - was killed. Not much of a secret about who killed her or how since the man who did it, while driving drunk, was the reason why I (and the rest of the lawyers in the case) were at NSP yesterday.

We have had to go to him in this case when we need him because he is spending about seven years there as a guest of the Governor and the rest of us hard-working taxpayers in the State of Concrete Gardens secondary to the plea of guilty he entered to vehicular homicide (2nd degree). Seven years in prison is not my idea of a good time. But then again, considering that my client was a 19 y/o girl, the Dad in me thinks that the man who killed her is getting off pretty damn easy.

Apparently we arrived yesterday afternoon too late for lunch (and I had heard it was creamed chipped beef on toast, which sounded scrumptious) so we had to be content simply conducting this fellow's deposition in one of the posh, well-decorated conference rooms at NSP. You would be amazed to see the things that are being done with concrete and steel......most of which is bolted into the concrete by the way. It is almost nice enough to want to make one go out and commit a crime just to have access to the room.

While I am kidding of course - both about the splendor of the conference room and the pleasure I derive from spending time at Northern State Prison - I could not help but laugh driving there yesterday. I think that the facility has been up and running for about twenty-five years or so - although I could be mistaken. I am confident, regardless of how long it has been open for business that there is no more ideally located geographically prison in this country or any country than good ol' NSP.

And it is the facility's location that always makes me smile. I recall a million years ago when I worked for my older brother Kelly that we used to pass by NSP on our way to and from various jobs in Manhattan, Jersey City and Hoboken. Like clockwork, he used to laugh about the fact that only in our beloved state would we locate a prison within walking distance of multiple hotels and directly across the highway from an international airport. Nothing like giving an escapee options; right? He and I used to joke about the commercials that the hotels that are literally located up the block from NSP could make in an effort to appeal to their "incarcerated" demographic. "Take longer to dig that tunnel than you thought it would and so you missed the last flight out tonight to Rio? Need a place to stay? We provide clean rooms at a reasonable rate, free Continental breakfast and free airport shuttles!"

We tend to do some pretty goofy sh*t here in the State of the Sub Shop of Choice of the Commander-in-Chief. We build a prison so conveniently located to lodging, major highways and various modes of mass transit including an airport that our Department of Corrections uses one of the hotels as a landmark in the driving directions it provides for NSP on its website. Yet close to four decades ago, we develop swamp land/burial ground (a little shout out to Mr. Hoffa and Teamsters everywhere) into a Sports Complex that included a 77,000 seat stadium, a 20,000 seat indoor arena and a race track for harness and thoroughbred racing caring not one whit about the fact that it was wholly inaccessible by train and a complete pain in the ass to attempt to enter and exit due to traffic patterns and volume. Only in Jersey can our elected officials spend public funds to situate a facility that they want people to visit voluntarily as inconveniently as possible while simultaneously spending the funds of that same public to conveniently locate a facility frequented and used (overwhelmingly so) by people whose decision to be there is anything but voluntary.

It is a well-known fact that in Jersey anything's legal as long as you don't get caught. And if you do, ask to be sent to Northern State Prison. Your gateway to the world.

-AK

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