< HOME  Monday, October 23, 2006

What Is Justice?

Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron, will be sentenced today.
Mr. Skilling, 52, a former Enron chief executive, will stand in federal court here on Monday and receive a sentence that many expect will keep him in prison for the rest of his life. Most legal experts are betting that United States District Judge Simeon T. Lake III will give Mr. Skilling a sentence of at least 25 years for his role in heading a conspiracy to defraud Enron investors
I have to admit, I blanched at this statement. "For the rest of his life"? . . . that's a long time!

But remember the facts of the case. Not only Wall Street, but Enron's own employees were the victims of this fraud -- most of whom saw their entire retirement plans wiped out. Skillings' profits came straight out of his employees pockets, and that's robbery!

White collar crime hasn't been punished this severely in the past. Life sentences are reserved for the drug dealers, purse snatchers, and repeat-offender petty criminals. Of course our punishment system is racist, and it's good to see the tables turned for once.

Still, something bothers me, here. While Skilling takes the heat, Ken Lay got off scot-free, by dying and having his case dismissed. Andrew Fastow, who ratted on the rest, plea-bargained for six years in prison. The NY Times article itself, by giving a lot of space to Skilling's personal life over the last six months, seems to be subtly suggesting the old approach of mercy in the case of white collar crime.

And outrageous as the Enron case really is, how does it compare to the crime of lying the nation into war? If 25 years is suitable punishment for defrauding investors of half a billion dollars, what is the punishment for defrauding a nation of half a trillion? What is the punishment for murder?


At Monday, October 23, 2006, Blogger lesliemai said...

public executions would send a messege

At Tuesday, October 24, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

lesliemai, lol... it certainly would.

Unfortunately, most people are too squeemish to realize that capital punishment for PROVEN murderers (i.e., not simply beyond a reasonable doubt) is more humane than a lifetime jail sentence, not to mention a far more effective deterrent.

Men were simply not designed to be in "jail" perpetually - it's too cruel. First, it creates the illusion that it's not so bad, so people tend to be thrown in jail forever based on less than 100% certainty.

Second, it creates a terrible conflict of interest between for-profit jailers and their innocent victims, case in point being the horrendous prison system that has 'flourished' around our so-called 'humane' justice system.

okay, all those opposed to the death penalty can have at me now. But, keep in mind. I don't oppose a moratorium on the death penalty in the current system which too often convicts innocent people.

At Tuesday, October 24, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

btw, obviously capital punishment would not apply to a crook like skilling.

I wonder, if given a choice between one hand or his liberty for life, which he would choose?


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