LETTER: Prison reform must take into account ‘5 percenters’


Truman Capote’s classic work “In Cold Blood” describes the 1959 murder of the Clutter family by 2 hardened criminals. While beautifully written, what is striking are the similarities and differences if this were to happen today.

The Clutter family was well off and would have had significant home security measures in contemporary times. The media was all over their murder but would have been much more invasive and pervasive today. Identifying and apprehending the culprits would have taken a week or so today instead of the months it did in 1959.


The major domo similarity between then and now is the role of “5 percenters,” that fraction of the prison population who need to be a permanent part of that population. These serial offenders have spent considerable time in prison (in most cases). They are extremely manipulative and cunning. Predatory.

These guys will be released at some point. Parole may be granted or they may simply serve out their sentences. My fear is that this gets short shrift in discussions about prison reform. “Five percenters” are a reality that we will always have to deal with. They need to be taken into account.


Spring Garden Township