Time in the infirmary seems to have pepped up F. Glenn Miller Jr.
The white supremacist looked relatively spry Tuesday during a quick procedural hearing for his upcoming murder trial. Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., is accused of shooting to death three local residents in April, two at the Jewish Community Center and one outside Village Shalom retirement center.
Miller was transferred back to the county jail in Gardner in mid-August. But he spent the summer months getting more intense medical care in the infirmary of Johnson County’s central booking facility in Olathe.
Miller’s associates say the 73-year-old has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He was brought into the courtroom by deputies, in a wheelchair and with an oxygen tube in his nose. But he acted alert, his color far better than during his last public hearing. Miller even felt well enough to go on an anti-Semitic screed before he was wheeled away. You know, just in case any media were willing to spread his form of vile hatred. No thanks. Not playing.
If convicted, Miller will join the 843 Kansas inmates (about 10 percent) who are over the age of 55. It’s a growing group, here and nationally. So much so that the Kansas Department of Corrections opened a center for infirm male inmates nearly two years ago. Oswego’s geriatric prison has a capacity of 262. On Tuesday, 259 inmates were housed there. By the end of the week, it is expected to be full.
That’s a reality for prisons today. It’s mostly the result of an aging population and changes in sentencing that call for longer prison terms. Since 2005, Kansas legislators have made more than 100 sentencing policy changes.
The poor life choices that land people in prison also lead to earlier deaths, often by chronic health issues brought on by drug and alcohol abuse or hard living in general. So Kansas counts inmates as “geriatric” at 55. The state has 21 inmates 75 and older. Many of those with advanced health problems are at Lansing, closer to major medical centers.
How long Miller will live is obviously a guessing game. But it’s a question pondered by anyone following his case — do you wish for his health to endure, so he can make it to trial, pay for his crimes with a long sentence? Or would society be soothed by a God-willed earlier demise, knowing his racist, anti-Semitic self no longer haunts the earth?
First things first. Conviction, then sentencing.