Should the punishment fit the crime?

It is cases like this that make me lose faith in the American system of justice:

Man Gets Life in Prison for Spitting

It not that I think spitting in someone’s face (that it is a policeman is irrelevant) is not a vile, digusting act that should be punished. It is this draconian, shock-and-awe trend in sentencing that I find troubling. This sentence is a gratuitous gesture of the court, and ultimately pointless, since it will be overturned on appeal. The judge obviously let his personal anger at the defendant’s contempt for authority color his judgement. The result is one more piece of frivolous litigation clogging our courts and costing the taxpayer’s money.

Judges like this should be thrown off the bench.

Hmm. Did the word ‘bukkake’ float through anyone else’s mind as a fitting punishment for the judge?

It would make you laugh, if it wasn’t so FUCKING STUPID

Well, spitting on the person, cop or not, is assault, IIRC. So there’s that.

Then there’s the whole issue of the other violent crimes he was guilty of.

Nice try on making it a different issue than it actually was, though.

Ho-hum, some more facts for those interested in reading more before posting in an indignant haste:



Incidentally, it’s amusing how quick we are to blame the judge in this case.

I guess juries* and pre-sentencing reports just don’t present themselves as nice easy targets for talkback radio-esque rage. Heaven forbid we take time to consider the facts of the case – such as the fact that the defendent physically assaulted a police officer – or boring details such as prior convictions and the danger to the community the defendent poses.

It’s so much nicer just to shrill, man gets life in jail for spitting!, isn’t it?

  • Did we bother to read the fact that a jury recommended the sentence in this case?

Since when is assault deserving of a life sentence? Ever hear of proportionality, Monte?

So what? Instead using standards of sentencing that will be upheld on appeal, you just throw the book at every defendant who defies authority?

Maybe you should tell us what crimes you wouldn’t give a life sentence for, Judge Monty; it is apparently a very short list. It costs $30,000 a year to keep a prisoner in the state penitentiary; does this mean you are in favor of higher taxes? Or are you like many strict law ‘n order proponents, just don’t want to think about that; out of sight out of mind, right Monty? I, for one, don’t want to pay higher taxes just so you can feel smug about meanless gestures that proclaim that you are "tough on crime’, yet do nothing to make us safer, and waste the taxes of the citizenry.

The issue is this guy is not going to spend the rest of his life in prison; it will be overturned. The issue is how long are we going to let judges clog the appeals courts with indefensible sentences?

Let us be reasonable here- it is NOT a judge’s place to determine whether a sentence is an unnecessary burden on taxpayers. It is up to legislatures, who draft and pass penal codes and sentencing guidelines.

If we’re going to get worked up because this is a ridiculously ill-fitting sentence (and it is), you may want to consider the following:-

The average violent offender in a US state prison receives a 216 month sentence. He/she serves, on average, 100 months. ( ) The average drug offender recieves 81.5 months, and will serve 69. ( )

Now, the likelihood of actually going to jail for a drug offense is 148 per 100,000 (
The likelihood of jail time for a violent offense is 52 in 100,000 (arrests).

You are, in short, “more likely to go to jail for smoking a reefer than for kicking an old lady down the stairs”-Bill Bryson

Don’t count on it. In NY, a third conviction of a violent felony results in a sentence with a maximum term of life, and it won’t be overturned.

I am as liberal as they come but I am also a skeptic and as such I cannot buy into this claptrap my fellow liberals are spewing about crime and punishment nowadays(with exceptions such as my opposition to the ridiculous war on drugs).The man did not get life for spitting.He got life because he wanted life in prison.When you are caught and convicted of engaging in violence towards your fellow man, you are generally given a light sentence which serves as a warning and deterent to you doing such things again.When you repeatedly commit such acts against citizens, police, and whoever else you feel like then you are effectively saying “Listen, I have no idea how to get along in society and cannot learn to conduct myself as a responsible citizen.I do just fine in prison.Prison is what I know for whatever reason so could someone please put me in and leave me there.Thanks.”.
We can talk until we are blue in the face about how even serial killers could theoretically be rehabilitaed but doing such a thing is like purchasin a solid gold screwdriver to repair a rusty, broken toaster.Humans are NOT that valuable.The universe will go on when we no loner exist and we get along better when people like Tim McVeigh, Ted Bundy, and O.J. Simpson no lonegr exist(i am holding out hope that someone will assassinate the latter.Preferably using some nasty combination of pliers, a Bic lighter and a bag of salt).

Who is talking about serial killers? The guy spit in a cop’s face. Not exactly on the same par as John Wayne Gacy.

I have no idea what you are babbling about here.

Which gives us an idea of how highly you respect for the law.

Rehabilitation is a relatively minor goal of the US criminal justice system, regardless of what the judiciary and lawyers may suggest. The death penalty should display this pretty well.

Eh, the way I view it the 3-strikes-you’re-out should only apply to serious offenses. Even though he did bite a police officer’s arm and spat in his face, this shouldn’t be counted as seriously as, say, rape. Remember when Rodney King got rich after he attacked police officers?

Doesn’t matter how “one views it”… unless you mean the law should be changed to address such things. The three strikes rule as on the books in several states means that a nonviolent felon with 3 nonviolent convictions will recieve a mandatory minimum sentence twice as long (on average) than a nonviolent felon with two convictions, often without possibility of parole.

In Florida for example, a man found in possession of 20.1 grams of marjuana three times will recieve a mandatory minimum sentence almost certainly longer than an armed robber will recieve.

No, we’re not talking about John Wayne Gacy. Neither are we talking about someone whose only offense was spitting in a cop’s face. We’re talking about someone who ,when being arrested for asaulting his wife (a violent act) spit at and then bit a police officer, after having previously been convicted of first degree rape and first degree burglary. He pretty obviously didn’t get a life sentence for his first two felony convictions. The rape was certainly violent, and the burglary may have been.

That rather depends on the assault and the assailant’s history, doesn’t it? Or do you believe that people should be able to commit as many assaults as they can fit in between prison sentences without ever facing a life sentence?

And why in the world would you expect the sentence to be overturned? Apparently, the sentencing range for the offense is from four years to life. Sure, it could be overturned, but do you have any reason to expect it to be, other than your opinion that it’s too harsh?

The way I see it this was not a case of an innocent man being wrongfully convicted of anything. This cat was convicted twice before of felony crimes. He was an established douchebag.

It’s not as if he was like me. I’ve never even seen the inside of a jail before, let alone been convicted twice. It’s not like it was a big secret, the three strikes rule. When he jerked the cop around, he basically begged for it.

I have no sympathy whatsoever.

So in your world, after two strikes, there is no difference between assault with a loogy, and assault with a gun; just throw 'em all in prison, out-of-sight, out-of-mind? This is mindless, rubber-stamp justice; no need for judges, just let a bureaucrat read the sentencing guidelines, and dispatch all the undesirables as quickly as possible, and let the appeals court sort it out.

If it is assault by loogy, yes I do.

Besides the fact that it is absurd on the face of it? There isn’t an appeals court in the country that won’t consider this sentence way beyond a reasonable response to the crime, if not cruel & unusual.

And I agree with you. It was a vile, disgusting assault, for which he was properly convicted. But it does not warrant a life sentence. By imposing draconian punishments for crimes that do not rise to a level of violence and threat to society deserving of such a sentence, the court dilutes the effectiveness of a life sentence in cases truly deserving of it. If all convictions are given the maximum sentence, criminals can depend on a large percentage of sentences being overturned on appeal, thus dampening the deterrent effect.

This is not about sympathy, it is about proportionality.

We don’t have enough prison cells, or resources to build and staff them, to put all the douche bags in the country in prison for life. You are just going to have to live with the thought that society will always contain douche bags.

You don’t seem to have understood your own link- he was convicted of “placing bodily fluid upon a government employee” and also, of assaulting a police officer. The assault was the bite. And it was not rubber stamp justice- the sentencing range was 4 years to life- the judge could have sentenced him to 4 years if he felt it was appropriate. The jury, however, recommended a life sentence. I personally don’t think a life sentence is necessarily inappropriate for someone previously convicted of rape and burglary, who is now convicted of assaulting and spitting at a police oficer while being arrested for an assault on his wife, which allegedly resulted in a broken arm and fractured ribs. Seems to me he’s a violent guy.Why do you persist in pretending that the prior convictions, assault on the wife, and the biting didn’t happen?

You think it’s absurd on the face of it. The jury didn’t , the judge didn’t and an appeals court may well agree with them, rather than you. And they will have facts before them that the judge and jury had, but you don’t. Like the contents of the pre-sentence report.

The Supreme Court recently upheld “three strikes” laws as constitutional. Ewing vs California

One more time, I will argue it is about proportionality. Yes, he is a violent criminal. But the degree of violence does not rise to the level deserving a life sentence. We sentence thousands of rapists, violent thugs and even murderers each year that get substantially less than life in prison. Why is that? Because we don’t have room to warehouse them for life! The object is to use a limited resource (prison cells) to separate the most dangerous criminals from society. Honestly, you people seem to think there is an unlimited number of prison cells somewhere, and an unlimited tax base to pay for it all. I hate to break it too you, but most prisons are vastly overcrowded, and with the economies of most states circling the drain, we face the prospect of having to release many prisoners before they have served their sentences. Do you really want this guy to take the prison bed of a serial child molester?

I am absolutely confident this sentence will be rolled back significantly. Only time will tell, but the fact is, in today’s economy, Americans are more concerned about their wallets than the slavish and pointless appearance of looking “tough on crime”.