The following quotes are from The New York Times. (My comments are in boldface.)
“Sheldon Silver, Former N.Y. Assembly Speaker, Will Finally Go to Prison: Mr. Silver receives a sentence of 78 months after two trials. He had asked for home confinement, arguing that he was vulnerable to the coronavirus.,” By Benjamin Weiser and Jesse McKinley, The New York Times, July 20,2020
QUOTES FROM THE TIMES STORY
“Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said Mr. [Sheldon] Silver [former New York State Assembly speaker] ‘will now finally report to prison to begin serving a sentence that can begin to repair the harm his conduct caused.’ ” [italics added]
Such reassuring words. I will sleep better knowing this? (I mean that sarcastically.) This is actually sophistry, masked as sober reasoning.
“During the sentencing [of former Assembly Speaker Silver, to six and a half years], Judge [Valerie] Caproni said she recognized the risk of Covid-19 in prison — ‘I do not want Mr. Silver to die in prison, either,’ she said — but she noted a variety of safeguards that could be taken to protect him.
” ‘I cannot guarantee that Mr. Silver will not contract Covid in prison,’ the judge said. ‘But I also can’t guarantee that he won’t contract Covid if he stays out of prison.’ ”
The judge is getting off on making what she is sure is a gnomic, wise statement — will be taken as such — showing her cleverness and perspicacity. It’s actually nonsensical and cold blooded, and shows that she has no common sense and, at the best, scant regard for humanity.
These are FLAWED PREMISES (to put it kindly), UNCALLED FOR ASSERTIONS.
What is the point of inflicting a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence (plus a million dollar fine) on a seventy-six-year-old man with no prior criminal record?
To punish him for naked greed and corruption. For abusing his office and the power and influence accruing to and entrusted in him thereby.
To make an example of him. To provide an implicit warning to other officeholders who might be tempted to commit similar crimes.
I presume that’s what the answer would be.
Money is undoubtedly one of the main temptations man faces. It’s so hard to come by, to accumulate. When it seems to be there for the taking, the temptation is hard to resist. Especially because money provides access to expensive luxuries and pleasures that an honest person on a fixed income probably can’t afford.
How many people have I known, including close relatives — or friends or relatives of relatives or friends — who cheated on their taxes, betting (almost always rightly) that they wouldn’t be caught? And not suffering any qualms that they were “cheating” the public.
Sheldon Silver’s punishment is pointless. It will not serve as a deterrent. It’s also gratuitously cruel and harsh. He will suffer. The damage to the body politic or injury to the public will not be repaired. Should one somehow feel better about things in general knowing he is in jail?
No one will consider or care about him or his plight.
What would be a “just” punishment? As I was thinking about this, my wife, whom I had been discussing the case with, almost took the words out of my mouth. A fair and sensible punishment/penalty for such a crime would be (1) removal from office and loss of the power and privileges that go with it; (2) requirement that the offender make restitution.
Jail makes no sense, does no one any good. And ruins the remainder of a flawed person’s life.
We are all flawed. And capable of doing things of the same nature — if not necessarily of the same magnitude or with the same degree of notoriety — ourselves.
— Roger W. Smith
July 21, 2020
addendum, July 28, 2020
Under questioning by Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia, Mr. [William] Barr [United States Attorney General] agreed that the prosecutors’ recommendation was within sentencing guidelines. “But it was not within Justice Department policy in my view,” he said.
In an especially heated exchange, Mr. Johnson retorted: “You are expecting the American people to believe that you did not do what Trump wanted you to do? You think the American people don’t understand that you were carrying out Trump’s” wishes?
“Let me ask you,” Mr. Barr replied. “Do you think it is fair for a 67-year-old man [Roger Stone] to be sent to prison for seven to nine years?” [italics added]
— “Barr Defends Protest Response and Stone Case Intervention in Combative Hearing,” By Nicholas Fandos, Charlie Savage and Sharon LaFraniere, The New York Times, July 28, 2020