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For destitute old man, prison was good life

By Hu Min (Shanghai Daily)

09:24, July 16, 2012

FU Daxin, a 73-year-old farmer, wasn't really looking for money when he committed a robbery in Beijing four years ago.

He didn't even want to get away. He waited for police.

In fact, Fu, who has been discharged from prison and lives at a seniors' home, dreams of being sent back to prison.

Prison isn't a bad place for Fu, who used to live at Lingguan Village in Hunan Province.

It meant a stable, comfortable life with enough food and medical treatment, worth his sacrifice of freedom.

Fu robbed a girl at the Beijing Railway Station in 2008 and got two years in prison for attempted robbery. He begged the judge to extend his term in prison.

"I can no longer support my life," Fu said, explaining his reasons. A single elderly person, he said he had no money for food or medical treatment. He received only 600 yuan (US$96) as subsidy every year, which meant 1.6 yuan daily.

"One kilogram of rice costs 3 yuan, and meat 26 yuan - what can I eat?" he asked.

Fu tried to collect garbage, but was too frail. He once read a story about a man committing a crime to get medical treatment in prison. He made his plan.

After two attempts, he finally "succeeded" as the girl alerted police. The first time he was too slow to catch up to his target, a cop, and his next intended victim dismissed him as having mental problems.

Before going to prison, he had not eaten meat for two years and he suffered from stomach spasms during his robbery.

In prison, Fu got meat and eggs, never skipped any meal, had enough clothing and a quilt and didn't need to work since he was over 60. He read newspapers, played chess and watched CCTV news. Doctors visited him when he was sick and even sent him to hospitals outside for treatment. He gained 5 kilograms in three months.

"I just prayed for time to pass more slowly," he said.

But Fu was discharged from prison after a year and a half.

He was transferred to a local seniors' home. It's a privilege only a small number of seniors like Fu from the countryside have. In Qidong County, where Fu's village is located, less than 10 percent of single seniors unable to work can live at the home because village committee doesn't have enough money to build more homes.

Fu says the home is shabby, leaking when it rains. One of the only two television sets is broken. Part of the cement balcony collapsed. Fu must cook and has no new clothing.

"The life here is not as good as that in prison," Fu said.

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