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News Rod Blagojevich goes to jail - why not public service?

  1. Dec 8, 2011 #1

    mathwonk

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    I wonder how it benefits anyone, except old testament punishment advocates, for the taxpayers to pay for room and board for Mr. Blagojevich for 14 years. What about sentencing him to work at a public shelter, or other public service job, at low wages, and be required to house and feed himself, and not hold public office, for 14 years? The only cost would be periodic monitoring. (He should live in modest circumstances without access to stored assets, which would be frozen from him.)

    Indeed what about something like this for other non violent offenders? If their physical presence is not a threat, why are they incarcerated? And if they have stolen money, why grant them free room and board? Maybe I am missing something here that has escaped me for over 60 years of observation.

    I guess a free con man would be able to more easily run a scam. Maybe they could be required to work somewhere their identity was well known, so they would have less ability to dupe people. Perhaps public works, like a road building project, or even a free tutoring service, or answer phones at a public information center. I.e. the monitor could be their boss at such a job. If their presence was generally visible, they should be less of a threat to cheat someone.

    They could even lecture at universities on their expertise, such as it is. Embarrassment to them should not be a big problem, compared to being locked up. And they could even be rehabilitated this way to some extent, by discovering the value of openness and trust. E.g. Mr. Blagojevich could teach how governments become corrupted and how they might be made more sound. All speaking fees above a certain amount going to their victims.

    What are the obstacles to this? Is it only the "eye for an eye" people who would object? Indeed even those should not object in this case, if they think about it. I.e.requiring some measure of restitution seems more accurately "eye for an eye" for a thief, than putting him in prison.

    Ideas?
     
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  3. Dec 8, 2011 #2

    turbo

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    Is there a good reason for him NOT to be imprisoned? This country has terrible problems with big money and political corruption that robs from all of us. He's enough of an outlier, that perhaps our Senators and Congressmen won't get the message, but eventually there has to be a reckoning. Blago should be an object-lesson, IMO.
     
  4. Dec 8, 2011 #3
    He already had his shot at public service and look how that turned out. A few years in a concrete cell might be in order this time around.
     
  5. Dec 8, 2011 #4
    Great idea! And maybe Bernie Madoff could be paroled to do "public service" consulting on the Euro crisis and the US debt crisis. These people need expert help.
     
  6. Dec 8, 2011 #5
    I think the idea is that actual prison time will discourage others from attempting the same level of corruption. Your suggestion wouldn't deter me, if the only punishment was a low-paying job.
     
  7. Dec 8, 2011 #6

    Ryan_m_b

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    To suggest a mixed approach; imprisonment is meant to be a deterrent to both others and the prisoner in future (as well as keeping separate from society). But for non-violent crime like this I don't see why 40 hours of the prisoners week aren't devoted to mandatory work, there are hundreds of jobs they could do which would not only be useful for society but also go some way towards paying for their room and board.
     
  8. Dec 8, 2011 #7

    phinds

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    Yeah, but chain gangs were notoriously corrupt (let's go fix the mayor's driveway, boys) is one problem, and the added burden of extra supervision would likely be another. I'm actually in favor or your idea, but it does have its own issues.
     
  9. Dec 8, 2011 #8
    i have a serious problem with this idea of embezzlers, con men, etc. being non-violent criminals. financial crime removes food, shelter, clothing, and education from you and your children. financial crime affects your physical well-being, and your mental well-being. longevity is associated with wealth, meaning financial crime removes years from your life.

    what else can financial crime be except violence?
     
  10. Dec 8, 2011 #9

    phinds

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    Uh ... dude ... you are attempting to apply intelligence and logic to our judicial system. This will cause you untold amounts of angst.
     
  11. Dec 8, 2011 #10

    turbo

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    Phinds is right about this one. Blago's last stretch in "public service" didn't serve us well. Continuing to do the same stuff while expecting different results isn't too smart. In China Blago might have been stood against a wall, and his wife would be charged 50 cents for the bullet. He has it cushy in the US.
     
  12. Dec 8, 2011 #11
    I don't think physical violence should neccessarilly be the determining factor for jail time - the big factor should be the impact upon a victim. If someone has no regard/respect for another individual - that is the reason to lock them up. IMO some mugger serving 2-6yr is probably less of a societal ill than the ultra-corrupt Blago.

    Look at it in reverse: why would you not offer that mugger a shot at community service, but you'll allow a guilty confidence man to enter the system (and give him another chance to con his way through it).
     
  13. Dec 8, 2011 #12

    DaveC426913

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    Non-violence of course.

    There is really no argument that financial crimes are not violent crimes.


    I think your question is why should non-violent crimes garner more lenient sentences?
     
  14. Dec 8, 2011 #13
    I think your post is thoughtful, and deserves consideration. But, imo, especially felons such as Blagojevich should be required, upon conviction, to spend years behind bars doing relatively 'hard time' for their actions. The inequity in the US or any system of 'justice' is that most of the 'players', like Blagojevich, don't get prosecuted -- and if/when they do it's a relatively short stay in a 'country club' environment, or a fine which they can easily afford. The SEC is probably, currently, arranging to accept some sort of monetary settlement from a financial services company that has broken the law -- the net result of which is that the company will still realize a substantial profit wrt their unlawful practices. People like Blagojevich should be spending long and hard prison time for their transgressions. As should the people who were instrumental in causing the recent financial crisis. But the reality is that it's these very people, and their ilk, who actually run countries. Blagojevich just didn't have enough of the right friends, or money, or both. And then there's his hair style, which I think most people would agree warranted at least a few years behind bars.
     
  15. Dec 8, 2011 #14

    DaveC426913

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    Didn't the judge actually hand down a separate conviction and sentence to his hair? Blag might get out on good behavior but his 'do is a lifer.
     
  16. Dec 8, 2011 #15
    Yes, of course he could argue that he would look far worse (like really bad) with a different 'do'. And looking at his pictures, I think I would have to agree (though I haven't seen him with a radically different 'do') -- with, eg., a crewcut, I think we're talking ax-murderer look. Let's face it he's a strange looking guy. So I say lock him up for a long time.

    Like in the olden days. How do you know she's a witch? She looks like one!!
     
  17. Dec 8, 2011 #16

    turbo

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    Does she float or sink?
     
  18. Dec 8, 2011 #17

    DaveC426913

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    He can't answer. She turned him into a newt.
     
  19. Dec 8, 2011 #18

    turbo

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    That can't be good!!
     
  20. Dec 8, 2011 #19
    yeah, well, i personally don't think he's any worse than any of those other Chicago goons. what got him in hot water was bucking the system. he chose to put in a senatorial replacement for Obama that went against the wishes of the political machine, and they turned on him.
     
  21. Dec 8, 2011 #20

    Vanadium 50

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    He sold a US Senate seat.

    Think about that: he sold a US Senate seat. Men and women have given their lives to ensure that Americans would have the freedom to govern themselves, and Mr. Blagojevich undermines this by selling a Senate seat.

    Prison is too good for him.
     
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