Why Now?
Sunday, April 10, 2005
  Crime and Punishment [Преступление и Наказание]
For whatever obscure reason two legal cases have become linked in my mind: the spammer and the bomber.

August J. Pollack and Billmon have opposing views on the sentence of nine years handed down to Jeremy Jaynes who was convicted of running one of the largest spamming operations on the Internet.

While I understand August's point about his view of what Jaynes did, and Billmon's thirst for revenge, I want Mr. Jaynes drawn and quartered for entirely separate reasons: equal time for equal crimes.

Jaynes made approximately $9 million per year clogging networks, servers, and nodes with messages few wanted. He lied to people and software to accomplish his goals. He cost individuals as well as corporations millions of dollars.

Many forget that in some places people pay for their connect time by the minute and some pay for e-mail storage beyond a minimum. Jaynes's incarceration and fines will not be rebated to those who had to pay to receive e-mail they did not want; it will not pay for the software purchased to reduce the e-mails he was sending; it will not pay for the wasted time of millions of individuals wading through his junk mail to find important messages.

I compare this sentence to those handed out to urban drug users who are clogging the prisons, and the impact the drug user and the spammer have had on society. Nine years, if anything, is amazingly lenient by comparison to the drug users' sentences.

The case of bomber Eric Robert Rudolph gets more complicated. Mr. Rudolf had a lot in common with Raskolnikov¹ in Dostoevski's classic novel. Both are outsiders, disassociated from their societies.

Rudolph is a terrorist in every definition of the word. His explosions weren't targeted at individuals; they were targeted at society. While some were placed at gay establishments and health clinics, the Olympic venue was terrorism in its most obvious form.

The Federal prosecutors have a cluster of reasons for offering Rudolph this deal: he told them about his stored explosives and avoided the expense of court, but underlying that is the way the Justice Department screwed up the investigation and the need to prove the case "beyond reasonable doubt".

If this had gone to trial the name "Richard Jewell" would have resurfaced. Jewell was the security guard who did his job and saved lives, but the Justice Department with the assistance of the Media converted him from a hero to a suspect.
Jewell's attorneys say that while they would like some apologies, they and Jewell want financial compensation.

"We're going to sue everyone from A to Z," said attorney L. Lin Wood Jr.

"You can't spend 60 percent of an apology," he said, referring to a client's typical share of a settlement after attorneys' fees. "This litigation is not about principle. It's about compensation for injury done."

This is the danger of targeting people instead of crimes: target the wrong person and you present the defense with the basis for "reasonable doubt".
The Feds are saying that the people who would convict Rudolph would be unlikely to give him the death penalty because of anti-abortion views. Sorry, but Paul Hill was convicted, sentenced to death, and executed for his murder of a doctor and escort. His "reasons" didn't carry much weight in the Florida Panhandle. People who oppose abortion in the South tend to be supporters of the death penalty.

The Feds did a deal because they screwed up and were happy not to lose the court case. They would have won the case in Alabama and gotten the death penalty if they had gone to trial, but that would have required things that the Bush administration is short of: courage, conviction, and competence.

1. In Russian the word raskolnik [раскольник] means dissident or outsider - truth in labeling.

 



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