Friday, December 17, 2010

Good and Mad Reading for the Weekend

Maybe this article won't make you good and mad -- maybe it will just make us thoughtful and circumspect.  And that's not a bad thing, either.

The title of this piece from The Washington Times is "The Balance Between Mercy and Justice," and it tells the tragic story of Florida DUI offender Baruch Zegeye, who, at 17 and while under the influence of alcohol and Xanax, killed a man in a car crash.  A first-time offender and "A" student who shows deep remorse and has earned the forgiveness of his victim's family, Zegeye is facing 14 to 20 years in prison -- though the judge can give him less time.

What should the sentencing judge do?  What would you do?

Cases like this remind us why we believe in individualized sentencing:  because each case is unique; because sentencing deals with infinitely complex humans and enormously complicated moral questions; because one-size-fits-all punishments leave no room for a balanced outcome.