ROLF KAESTEL: In 1999 Arkansas prison photo before transfer to Utah.

Salt Lake City Weekly has a fascinating story on Rolf Kaestel, sentenced to life in prison for a robbing $261 from Bob’s Taco Hut in Fort Smith 33 years ago. Much worse offenders are released from prison all the time.  But few prisoners have Kaestel’s record of courthouse lawyering and key involvement in blowing the whistle in a scandal in an Arkansas  plasma program.

Kaestel’s role in a film about the corrupt and dangerous blood program was followed shortly after by a transfer to Utah, where he molders at a cost of $28,000 a year to Utah taxpayers. Nobody can explain why Kaestel was sent there, why he’s still there and why efforts to commute his sentence have failed.


A deep read. (In case you wonder, an interstate compact allows transfer of state prisoners, sometimes for difficulty by one state in housing them.)