Enron Chief’s Resentencing Further Illustrates Injustices Between the Rich and the Ordinary

By · Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

It is just after 5 a.m. on 7 January 2009, and I just heard NPR broadcast the news. Although a jury convicted Jeff Skilling of presiding over a massive fraud that bilked billions in losses from ordinary Americans, and the appeals court affirmed Skilling’s conviction, NPR reported that the swindler will receive a new sentence. Presumably, Skilling’s sentence will be lower than sentences served by thousands of ordinary non-violent offenders whose crimes have no victims.

This news enrages me. It illustrates the injustice in America, where the rich and well connected receive sympathy while ordinary Americans endure the harsh realities of an unforgiving system. I am not a proponent of multi-decade terms for any non-violent offenders. Yet when sentences punish non-violent offenders who have no victims more than sentences punish con-artists who swindle billions, the concept of justice takes a hit.

I’m locked in my 22nd continuous year of imprisonment for a victimless, non-violent crime, which I committed during the recklessness of youth. I have worked every day of my term to reconcile with society and earn my freedom. Despite considerable efforts I’ve made to redeem the bad decisions I made during my early 20s, I am scheduled to serve more than four additional years.

Why are quarter-century terms for non-violent drug crimes of consenting adults just, while con-artists who bilk billions need a second look? We need prison reforms that do not measure justice by the number of calendar pages that turn. Instead, justice should measure the efforts an individual makes to reconcile with society.

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