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Our readers took to the comments in droves to express their dismay and sorrow at our story about Franklin Frye, the man who spent almost his entire adult life in St. Elizabeths Hospital—dying under lock and key, in fact—for a minor theft (by Jim McElhatton, Sept. 2). Frank Matt (@fxmatt4) tweeted, “The institutional failures that led to Franklin Frye dying in custody are appalling. RIP, Franklin.” Reader Life 3, presumably one of Frye’s siblings, wrote, “This was my brothers story and I’m so great full for the guy who wrote this life story. It’s sad how my big brother was never able to share some of this life with me. I’m now 57 years old I remember the story’s of how my father was around that time. My father was a kind hearted person that was raze by a very evil father that tired him to the bed and beat him. My grandfather I never met was a mean white and Indian mix that use to beat my grandmother until she left in. My family story should be put in a book to share with the world. So much I want to say and can’t do it with a short blog . I’m going to miss and thank God for my brother. It is what it is and someone need to pay for this mess of messing someone life like this. He never stole the neck less and the police never went after the real person after knowing who did it sad so, so sad. Love and miss you big brother we love you but God love you more.” While we can’t say for certain that the reader is a relative of Frye’s, the sentiment stands.
But not every reader was sympathetic. There are some among us who so profoundly fear the general spectre of criminality that permanently locking away a man for a minor infraction seems like an acceptable cost of public safety—whatever that means. Chris Lee wrote on Facebook that Frye’s case is “One example of a mistake vs how many examples of cold blooded predators?” And sadly, there’s no cure for cold-blooded inhumanity.
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