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Ray Nagin’s “relatively short” sentence

NA CB899 NAGIN G 20140709171820What do you say about Mayor Ray Nagin, who was convicted by a jury earlier this year of 20 counts of corruption and filing false tax returns.

I’m certainly not of the opinion that the “relatively short” (WSJ) 10-year sentence he got today is a “rip-off” or at all lenient. I’m also not of the opinion that his crimes, whatever they might have been, were “incalculable” (AUSA Matthew Coman).

If nothing else, the United States Sentencing Guidelines provide a lot of calculations for attorneys, judges, and probation officers to work through. Yes, the federal district judge took a 15 percent cut off the minimum, which is surprising given the federal system’s penchant for punishing, not rewarding, persons for exercising their constitutional rights to a jury trial.

At this point, Nagin’s crimes are behind him. What’s in front of him is the next 8 and a half years in prison, since he will probably be a model inmate and earn his good time.

Nagin will be 67 before he sees the outside of prison walls. That is too much time. A wasted decade. Sure, he needs to be punished. And, sure, others need to be deterred.

But only in an insane federal criminal justice system in which appointed, life-time judges routinely dispense sentences in the hundreds of months can a sentence of 10 years be considered “relatively short”.

It is far too long.

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