Sunday, July 02, 2006

Getting Tough on Crime

I'm sick unto death of the vigorous attacks on crime that go after unimportant crimes or after non-crimes like using a vibrator in South Carolina. Like a lot of people, I'm appalled that in many states it's possible to get busted for possesing 1.1 ounces of pot twenty years after your two teenage busts for the same and get stuck in jail for, say, 25 years. In California, the mandatory minimums are coming under intensive pressure for reasons like that. I'm glad.

But there's one crime I'd like to get a little tougher on. Brace yourself, it's controversial. I think we should get tough on slavery.

A formerly married Egyptian couple in Irvine, California just plead guilty to bringing a ten-year-old Egyptian girl into the US and forcing her to spend 20 unpaid months working for them. (For full story, see here here and here.) The couple told the girl she'd be arrested or deported if she left the house. The girl was freed only due to an anonymous tip. She now has a green card and a foster family.

The pair have since plead guilty to four federal counts. The sentence they're facing, says the BBC, is three years. Three freakin' years!

In Feb. 2005, a DOJ press release said that the two could face up to 50 years each if convincted on all four counts.

Now, there may be mitigating circumstances that would explain why prosecutors would plea bargain down from 50 years to 3 years in a case in which the defendants admit to enslaving a ten-year-old girl. But I can't imagine what. Last I checked, "states rights" was removed from the law books as a defense in 1865.

Does anybody have any idea what's happening here? I don't mean that rhetorically--I mean it literally. There must be something I'm missing, and if somebody knows what it is, please tell me. If anybody knows Asst. US attorney Robert J. Keenan of the DOJ's LA branch, he'd be the guy to ask.

Three years?


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