Tuesday, January 22, 2008
A federal judge in Miami sentenced Jose Padilla to 17 years and 4 months today. (see WSJ here; Miami Herald here). The judge decided to give a lesser sentence because of the harsh conditions previously experienced by Padilla in his prior designation as an "enemy combatant." This below guideline sentence was for "terrorism conspiracy charges." (see AP here) For complete coverage of the sentencing see Professor Douglas Berman's Sentencing Law & Policy Blog here and here and Howard Bashman's How Appealing Blog here.
But the question that we need to examine from the eyes of one examining white collar sentences is whether this sentence is proportional. Should Padilla receive a lesser sentence than Bernie Ebbers (25 years), Jeff Skilling (24 years) and Chalana McFarland (30 years)? Should these three white collar offenders be sent to prison for a greater period than someone who commits a crime related to "terrorism conspiracy?" Perhaps the problem here is not the length of the sentence that Padilla received, but the draconian sentence being given to first offenders who commit economic crimes. (See Podgor, Yale Pocket Part here). Is this proportional, and if not which sentence(s) should be modified?