Have you ever taken the time to question why some individuals receive lights out years of imprisonment while others receive a slap on the wrist? What’s the reason behind the conspicuous judgments? As simple as you might think the answer is – the disparity is part of a much more complex set of ideological beliefs that need to be laid to rest.
An example of this trending injustice can be found almost everyday in the various media outlets. Two men were convicted today for murder involving two separate cases. The forty five year old receives a 40 year sentence. Meanwhile, the twenty year old convicted on the same elements of the crime that constitutes murder received a sentence of 12 years. Why the disparity?
First, while the elements for murder were the same in each case, judiciary believe that the younger perpetrator is more redeemable. The twenty year old is still developing, physically and most importantly – mentally. As the young man matures he’ll be able to make wiser decisions in the future, therefore, let’s spare this individual from the pitfalls of our draconian justice system by not subjecting him to a sentence outside the guidelines. However, for the physically and mentally mature forty five year old – impose the full frontal assault of the draconian justice system. In spite of the elements for a murder conviction being the same, the older man should have known better. A message needs to be publicy sent that the Commonwealth will not tolerate such insolence and disrespect for the rule of government and law – imposing a sentence that exceeded the high end of his guidelines by almost 20 years. This form of age stereotyping needs to come to an end.
Second, prejudice comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, numbers, and dollars. Take the same scenario above but this time the younger perp is white and the older is black. Racism absolutely plays a pivotal rule in determining not what’s just but what’s perceived as fair game in getting retribution.
Third, let’s change up the scenario. The crime is now a sexual assault. The two assailants are similar in age, the elements for their offense are identical, but one assailant is 6’4″ and over 250 lbs, while the other is 5’5″ and 160 soaking wet. That’s right, the giant perp received twice the amount of time for no other prejudicial reason than his sheer size.
Fourth, same crime – a sex assault, but this time the assailants are the same height, weight, and ethnicity, but one victim comes from an impoverished community while the other comes from affluence. Are you starting to catch on to the injustices occurring daily in our proclaimed “best criminal justice system in the World.” If you’re getting it, then you know the assailant who attacked the affluent woman receieved greater punishment than the assailant who attacked the poor lady. Why is the woman of affluence entitled to greater justice? How can any of this disparity be justified by those who are suppose to remain objective at all times?
The fact is we have a flawed criminal justice system that allows for personal bias. I know one individual who was presented with a plea offer for 10 years. But this man adamantly refused the deal because he was steadfast in his claim of innocence. The same Commonwealth attorney and judge presiding over his case prosecuted and sentenced this man to a total term of 210 years in prison on 19 felony convictions. The plea encompassed just one felony. How do these officers of the court sleep at night knowing they were satisfied with accepting a ten year plea and then turnaround and throw everything including the kitchen sink at him? This is what I refer to as vindictive prosecution (don’t take my kindness for weakness – I’ll show you).
Because of all of the examples represented in this blog, along with the many more I’ve not addressed, is precisely why sentencing guidelines should be mandatory. Enforcing the guidelines would still provide the judiciary with some discretionary leverage but severely limit the abusive nature thats ever present by that discretionary authority as evidenced by the depictions above.
Am I the only one who is seeing this travesty of justice? Defendants are being convicted and their sentences enhanced for reasons that have nothing to do with the elements of their crime. It’s nothing short of a complete systematic failure on a national scale. It’s time to make discretionary sentencing guidelines mandatory.
John E. Hamilton, #1442949
Nottoway Correctional Center
2892 Schutt Rd / P.O. Box 488
Burkeville VA 23922
Categories: John Hamilton