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Man Incarcerated in 1899 Still Behind Bars

Aug. 24, 1963 - Richard Honeck, 84 years old, has been in prison longer than many men expect to live. Honeck (left in 1899 and right this year) was incarcerated in 1899 at the age of 20 for murdering his former schoolteacher, and he has lived behind bars ever since. Authorities at Menard Penitentiary in Chester, Ill., believe the duration of Honeck’s time in prison is a record. Warden Ross Randolph says Honeck would have a fairly good chance for parole in November if he had a home and someone to care for him. “He’s definitely a good prisoner,” the Warden said, “but he does not have any place to go.” The only letter Honeck has received in 64 years is a four-line note from a brother expressing concern about his health — written in 1904. Honeck does not know whether his brother and four sisters are still alive. “I guess I’d have to be pretty careful if I got paroled,” he says. “There must be an awful lot of traffic now — and people, compared to what I remember.” An 1899 prison photo shows Honeck as a husky young man of about 150 pounds. Today, he weighs 20 pounds less, is completely bald, and stooped with age. “I made up my mind a long time ago, about 1918,” Honeck says, “that there was one thing I was going to do, and that was do time. I live from day to day.”


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