Francis Clifford Smith was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1950 for the murder of a security guard. He is currently in his mid-90s, living in a monitored and restricted nursing home in Connecticut. He is the United States’ oldest living prisoner.
At seventy years behind bars, he doesn’t approach the worldwide record, though. That distinction has been earned by a prisoner in Pakistan who was arrested around the turn of the century. Back then, the British military was in control of the area. Across multiple shifts in governmental control and threats to their health, the prisoner has not been released.
For those who want to see this testament to survival, I have been able to find a documentary piece:
That’s right… it’s a tree. Specifically, a Banyan tree.
In 1898, the local story goes, a British officer named James Squid was drunk. Not just “happy to buy a round” drunk or “puking in the bushes” drunk, but “how the heck is he still walking around under his own power?” drunk. Even while intoxicated, though, a British officer was still an officer… and when he captured a fugitive and ordered the fugitive be put in chains, the people under his command broke out the metal links.
In this case, the fugitive was a tree.
The next morning, the officer’s mistake was apparent, but rather than admit his error an excuse was made. The tree was meant to be a warning… that any local who dared to disobey British commands would find themselves similarly arrested. A board was fashioned for the tree and was hung around the trunk; the board reads simply “I am under arrest”.
Over the intervening years there have been efforts to remove the chains by those who find it a disturbing reminder of the effective slavery of their ancestors to British rulers. These efforts have been countered by locals who insist that without such monuments, the repression of their ancestors might be forgotten… and besides, it’s a funny reminder of just how stupid and pompous the British can be, and it brings in tourism dollars.
Question of the night: Have you ever done something while intoxicated that you later regretted?