“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


So earlier this year I encountered a "client" at work, who I had to arrest for a DUI (second in less than a year), as well as some felony charges and other bits and pieces - all well-deserved, and very open and shut. To the point of the defense attorney completely waived my appearance and plead out the case out as opposed to fighting things. This is on top of a history of several other events and convictions, including suspended time and probation currently active.

And it gets to sentencing - where she gets a grand total of four months to serve.

Now, I'm not saying that this was the crime of the century, and I'm the first to agree that our prisons have a lot of folks in them who probably shouldn't be.

But every one of these offenses was a blatant "I don't care about the law" - not a mere technicality, not a regulatory infraction, but conscious decisions to act recklessly, ignore court orders and defraud others. For this she gets basically a slap on the wrist, an inconvenience for a few months, and back out to do as she will again.

The whole point of jail time is deterrence - it's a "time out" or "grounding" for grown ups, a consequence for choosing to act against society's chosen dictates and a display for the individual as well as society as a whole that there is a price to pay for acting in such manner. Should we remove such consequences, then what is the point of attempting to enforce such laws? If we've decided that the punishments established by the legislature and public are excessive, and that our judicial system needs to minimize things "for the good of society" then we've weakened one of the pillars of our political system. If we've eliminated the deterrence of punishments then we have also removed the incentive to obey the laws of society.

I think events like this are part of why so many have lost faith in the system.


Phelps said...

Spend a night in a jail where they don't know you are a cop and then tell me four months is a slap on the wrist.

For someone who can be deterred four months is plenty. For someone who doesn't care, it doesn't matter.

Jon said...

Honestly, it depends on the person. I spent 4 hours in a drunk tank one night (because I talked them into not putting me in general pop) because I pulled a stupid and didn't cover my ass and show up in court (I had provided the necessary documents and believed they would get in front of the judge. I was wrong. Lesson learned a few months later when there was a warrant for my failure to appear)

For me, four hours was *way* more time then I ever wanted to spend wearing orange.

Or every wanted to again. I was raised that you owned up to your mistakes, and your paid the price, but you didn't want to have to pay that price in the first place - so you did your best to stay on the right side of the law. It stuck. Spending four hours in the drunk tank was terribly embarrassing, and *that* was the deterrent for me.

If it *doesn't* stick - and there is plenty of proof out there that there is a set of people it simple doesn't stick for... there is no deterrent inherent in the system. Maybe a system that allowed more... aggressive punishments *would* deter them. But we don't live in that society. So the only thing society can do with those people is lock them away so they can't harm society. Unfortunately we are even squeamish about that - and there are probably too many people in prison.

Its one of those problems that doesn't have a good, easy or clean answer.

Old NFO said...

Sounds like she's a 'career' offender, so 4 months won't mean anything to her...

Momma Fargo said...

Yep. Light sentences do not do anything except save bucks to the system. Bean counters. I wish the judges would be a little more choosy with what sentences they give and who gets leniency.