googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Time Off for Good Behavior?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Time Off for Good Behavior?

There’s not a lot I can add to the Casey Anthony ordeal. It’s already being covered non-stop in the news by people whose full time job is to talk about current events. I didn’t follow the trial as closely as others might have but I understand the prosecution’s allegations and Anthony’s defense. Even if I believed everything Casey Anthony claimed (through her attorneys), I would have to say that she hasn’t acted appropriately.

So the verdict comes down today on the sentencing for the four counts of lying to the police which she was found guilty on: four years in prison. Yet even though she was sentenced to four years, she’s getting out in less than a week. That seems odd. My first thought was that this was a genesis-like interpretation of the sentence where “four years” really means “one week” but that isn’t it. She has been given credit time served and “good behavior.” Really?! I understand that she’s already been in jail for a while but exactly what has been good about her behavior?

I’ve always thought the term “model prisoner” had a certain oxy-moron sound to it. A prisoner can be a model for whom? When someone is found guilty of a crime, his sentence is the punishment for his crime. So then he should serve the entire sentence regardless of how well he behaves afterward while in prison. While someone is in jail/prison, we should expect him to abide by the rules for the entire time of his sentence. It seems ridiculous to let someone out early simply for doing what he is expected to do. Think about this: if someone is uncooperative while in prison, his "punishment" for his bad behavior is that he still gets out when he was supposed to?

I know what critics of my argument will say; the possibility of an early release is an incentive for prisoners to cooperate. I see the logic of that but where is the justice in it? He should serve the time to which he was sentenced. We have it backward. Prisoners should work hard to rehabilitate and prepare to reenter society at the end of their sentence. Prisoners who do not do this could be considered un-rehabilitated and may look at spending more time in prison even after their sentence ends. This would accomplish the same incentive and be just at the same time.

Hearing the Casey Anthony sentence really drove home the irony of crediting criminals for good behavior. “Casey Anthony” and “good behavior” are words that one wouldn’t normally use in the same sentence.

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