from Rosemary’s Mother by Jimmy Breslin (from the book The World According to Breslin, edited by Michael J. O’Neill & William Brink)

The woman I live with, the former Rosemary Dattolico, has a mother who believes that we are not properly using punishment as a deterrent to crime. It is her view that many punishments now on the books are not effective, particularly the firing squad. She opposes the firing squad because it is too quick and doesn’t hurt enough.

“They should try things out,” the mother says. “Say, you take two or three of these savages up to Central Park and put them in the cage with the leopards.”

She suspects everybody and forgives nobody. To her, every chance encounter out in the streets is a chance to be mugged. The other day, shopping in Queens, she saw three teenage boys at a bus stop. She folded her arms and hugged her purse to her midsection. The teenagers stared at her.

“Ma, do you have to do this?” the former Rosemary Dattolico said to her mother. “It’s embarrassing.”

“Ooohh! They could come jumping out like savages,” the mother said.

The former Rosemary Dattolico called to the three boys. “Will one of you young men kindly come over here and steal her purse so she’ll be happy?”

The three teenagers stepped out into the safety of the streets.

“They should be tortured just once, then they’d leave us alone,” the mother said. To her a loose shoelace is a prelude to strangulation.

(from the column in The Daily News, December, 1976)