Corrupt Hive

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Thoughts on Carter

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When Carter was first was decided I only made a brief comment over at Sentencing Law and Policy stating that I agreed with both its method and conclusion. But I actually thought about the case and now that Michael O’Hear has posted his thoughts on the case I am going to expand my remarks.

First, as I have expressed many times, I totally disagree with the pro-intellectual bias that permeates so much of American society. There is no logical or moral reason to treat non-violent crimes any different than violent crimes. Regardless of whether a million dollars was stolen via embezzlement or via armed robbery, the sentences should be identical. If anything, there is a strong case to be made that the non-violent crime is the more reprehensible of the two.

It is for this reason, however, that I also agree with the conclusion in the case to deviate so broadly from the guideline sentence. Even though Ms. Carter attempted to launder close to three million dollars, the fact of the matter is that a “good bit” of the money was recovered. While the court does not define a “good bit,” I am assuming that it represents the majority of the money. It is this fact that makes me support the deviation and makes me support Micheal’s claim that her violation was “technical in nature”.

A major goal of sentencing is to make sure that the punishment is proportional to the harm committed. The harm, however, should not be judged based upon the letter of the law alone. Wisdom encourages us to look at the pragmatic affects of the crime (both good and bad). In this case, the harm of Ms. Carter’s crime was mitigated by fact that the government was able to recover a good portion of the money. As a consequence, I can’t say that the two year sentence in this case was substantially unreasonable. And so I agree with the court of appeals decision in this case.


Written by Daniel

September 2, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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