Maria Hess: Elderly Inmates in Delaware

For the Mind, Body and Soul

Several months back, we received a letter from an elderly inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. This is not typical—we’ve probably received three letters from inmates in the past 10 years. The inmate wrote of poor conditions for elderly inmates in Delaware, and how advocacy groups were starting behind prison walls.

We asked writer Andréa Miller to investigate this issue, and the results are found in the story, “Who Cares?” on page 86. Andréa uncovered several interesting facts in her substantive piece: That Delaware’s over-50 prison population has nearly quadrupled from 254 in 1999 to 945 in 2012; and that the state’s overall prison population has dropped nearly 20 percent in eight years. If this trend continues, Andréa concludes, the elderly could make up more than a third of Delaware’s prison population by 2020.

So what does this mean for the prisoners, for the prisoners’ victims, for we taxpayers? Plenty. We worked diligently to create a balanced piece—sensitive to the fact that conditions in Delaware’s prisons may need attention, but that the subjects of the story are, indeed, convicted felons. We are sensitive to victims and victims’ families, and in no way diminish their suffering by publishing this story. We did our best to produce an impartial report, hoping to encourage thoughtful discussion. I welcome your thoughts, and am always open to constructive criticism or meaningful comments.

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Writer Sam Waltz offers an interesting profile (page 21) on Charlie Copeland, a socially progressive Republican leader. This insider look at Copeland is proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover—or a human being by his political affiliation. In this election year, it’s especially important to vote on issues; to vote the way your heart tells you to vote. Copeland isn’t running for office, of course, but he is a man of integrity and compassion who is often categorized by his Republican label. I thank Sam for the interesting story.

Our devoted readers know that the August issue always means a dining guide (page 78). This month we’ve tackled desserts. Dining critic Matt Amis did a fine job scouting the most sumptuous treats, and if I know Matt, he probably did lots of sampling. (The man never gains an ounce.) I envy his metabolism, and am grateful for his hard work. I’m hoping this decadent story inspires you to try some of the innovative confections offered throughout the state. Matt covers the traditional as well as the innovative, so go out and blow a few thousand calories. Life is short, as those of us with willpower challenges will rationalize.

Look below: We have a new staff photographer. Welcome to the team, Ron Dubick.

Enjoy the issue.


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Team Notes

Mark Nardone 
I’ve been having a good time down on the farm at T.S. Smith & Sons in Bridgeville. What they produce is amazing, and the way they produce it is better yet. I was tickled to learn that owner Charlie Smith’s great-grandfather was born at Iron Hill, where I lived on a farm for a good chunk of my childhood. No wonder going to Smith’s is kind of like going home.


Katie Mccabe 
Thanks to former DT account executive Ruth Connell, I got the chance to attend the recent Lightship Overfalls event at the Virden Center in Lewes. With great food, drinks and company, plus some serious live and silent auction action, I got to see how the other half lives!


Kelly Carter
If there’s one thing you do this summer, you have to check out “Light: Installations by Bruce Munro” at Longwood Gardens. My husband and I went to the opening and the British light artist’s work is a perfect opportunity to see the gardens in a different and magical way.

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Louise Bolin 
DT recently partnered with the Delaware Safety Council to offer our employees a basic defensive driving course. Our instructor, Newport Police Chief Michael J. Capriglione, said it best: Defensive driving class is a hidden gem in Delaware that no one takes advantage of but should! I couldn’t agree more. (And I get a discount on my car insurance for three years!)


Drew Ostroski 
Speaking of Capriglione, have you ever seen “Checkpoint Strikeforce” on Channel 28? The show filmed DUI checkpoints (kind of like “Cops” on FOX). Capriglione is hilarious. It no longer airs, so you’ll have to Google the archived episodes. Hail to the chief and all of the good guys who are getting bad people off the road.


Ron Dubick
Charlie Copeland and I met at his grandparents’ home, (now the Mt. Cuba Center) to start our photo shoot (see page 21). We moved on to Market Street to do another shot. He was willing to stand on an apple box so I could work in the background. We met again several hours later to do a third shot in front of The Queen. Great guy to work with and great cooperation.


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