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Sentencing: Equal Justice & Common Sense

At breakfast this morning with friends and family the controversial admissions scandal was brought up. Specifically, whether or not Felicity Huffman deserved jail time for her illegal actions. Most at the table argued that she has taken responsibility for her actions, plead guilty, suffered personally and professionally, a jail sentence would not be “rehabilitative;” it was a non-violent offense, and therefore she should NOT serve a jail sentence.

Conversely, I argued that if she was not rich and famous, she would absolutely be punished to the full extent of the law for her non-violent federal offense, citing the First Step Act as proof that our legal system does not show mercy to non-violent offenders who don’t live in affluent zip codes.

The First Step Actis the “first step” in reviewing the current prison population of first-time non-violent, drug-related offenders serving lengthy prison sentences and releasing those who qualify. The act also includes de-escalation training for guards, improved hygiene for female inmates, disallowing restraints for pregnant woman, good conduct incentives, and more.

The point I was trying to make in citing this act is that many of first-time offenders are breaking the law to survive and when caught, they’re sentenced to some exorbitant number of years behind bars or in many cases, life without parole (LWOP).  For example, one gentleman at 61 years old has already served 23 years of a LWOP sentence for transporting and selling methamphetamine to pay for a life-saving bone marrow transplant and other medical treatments for his ailing son.  Some other examples of LWOP offenders include individuals who acted as a go-between for a $10 sale of Marijuana, shared LSD with Grateful Dead concert-goers, or were in possession of a bottle cap containing a trace amount of heroin.

Don’t want Felicity Huffman to serve time in jail?  Then a dirty bottle cap bust shouldn’t result in life without parole.  Let’s fix our broken system, what do you think?