Cellblock Seniors

They have grown old and frail in prison. Must they still be locked up?

Picture an 86-year-old man clutching a walker as he shuffles down a prison hallway. Not exactly the usual image of a dangerous killer locked up for the good of society. Chances are, it's not what the judge envisioned either when he sentenced John Bedarka, a Pennsylvania coal miner, to life without parole for shooting his wife's lover to death 30 years ago. But Bedarka is still in prison at Laurel Highlands correctional institution in Somerset, Pa., in frail health, severely depressed and a threat to no one.

The number of elderly men in Bedarka's situation is increasing dramatically. With three-strikes laws...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!