Thursday, December 08, 2011

Was it Anti Semitism?

It was a white collar crime. But the sentence was as harsh as it would have been for the most hardcore of violent criminal. Rapists, drug dealers, and in some cases even murderers have gotten off with lighter sentences. And yet this white collar criminal was sentenced to hard time in a federal prison. The prosecution’s sentencing recommendations were harsh. And the judge followed the stricter end of sentencing guidelines.

Many of the defendant’s friends and neighbors could not believe what happened to him and were outraged by what they saw as a gross miscarriage of justice. He was known in his community as a good and generous man. A wonderful husband and father who had done many kindnesses – especially for underprivileged children. The judge even acknowledged this during the sentencing.

Nonetheless pleas by the defense team for mercy – arguing that a good and decent family would be irreparably damaged fell on deaf ears. The judge’s prison sentence for this defendant was one of the longest ever meted out for this kind of crime.

Many have in the past rallied behind defendants like this arguing that a long prison sentence for a first time offender like this was unfair; that the defendant was basically a good man who made some mistakes. He proclaimed his innocence throughout his long ordeal from the moment he was arrested until his very last day in court. He said he did not think he was doing anything wrong. Nonetheless a jury found him guilty and the judge basically threw the book at him.

He was guilty. I am sure of it. And the truth is I never liked him. I personally saw him as a slimy operator. I was glad to see him ousted from his job and lose his career.

But his sentence was cruel. To him; to his wife; and to his children.

I am in fact appalled that such harsh sentences are given out to basically good people who had made some errors in judgment – serious though they were. White collar crime is not the same as violent crime. Especially when the crime he committed was so widely practiced in his circles.

What he did was pretty much standard operating procedure - wrong though it was. It was business as usual for this defendant. He looked around at his peers, both past and present, and did not see or do anything out of the ordinary. He actually believed that he did nothing wrong. And in the scale of things, his crime was small compared to some of the hard core violent crimes committed by sociopaths who are often given much lighter sentences.

Others may disagree but I find this to be a terrible injustice. Why should a basically good man who made some mistakes receive such a long and hard sentence? His release will take place when his children are fully grown and long out of the house. Why is it fair to break up a decent family by throwing someone in jail for so long - for a white collar crime? ...a man who has already paid a price by losing his reputation and his career.

Here was a successful man doing much good in the world - who will never be able to work in his chosen field again. He is a disgraced man. He will forever be tainted because of his crimes. For a man who was so honored in the past, who was considered such a great humanitarian to have fallen so low is perhaps a far worse punishment than his jail time.

What does putting this man away for so long accomplish?

There are some people who look at cases like this and cry anti Semitism! I would even posit that many who deny that publicly – think it.

But that cannot possibly be the case here. Rod Blagojevich is not Jewish.