Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Cheap, nasty

Creative sentencing for rogues

        If I were Queen Prudence of Juris, I would be very choosy about who was sent to the dungeon.

        I would imprison people who scare me — the ones who abuse children, those who rape and murder and batter. I would order my Chancellor of the Lockup to make sure we never, ever let one of these thugs out to make room for someone who merely disgusts and offends us.

        My Minister of Justice would devise something cheap and nasty for scoundrels and rogues, the cheats and thieves, for those who gamble with other people's money. I would insist on a harsh penalty for their misdeeds, such as making them run for Cincinnati City Council or serving as Martha Stewart's love slave.

        Something mean. But nothing as mean as locking them up with ax murderers and predators. And nothing as expensive as building them a castle of their own.


Life with Linda

        If Enron's Ken Lay is convicted of something, I'd give him a life sentence with his whiney wife, Linda. I'd make him cut up her credit cards right before her very eyes. I'd put him in a trailer park filled with retirees. I'd make him play shuffleboard with people whose money he frittered away, and I'd make him drive the shuttle bus to the restaurant for the Early Bird Special.

        He could caddy at a nearby golf course.

        Every time he mentioned his contribution to the Dallas Opera, I'd make him go to a Metallica concert. Whenever he dropped a famous name, I'd make him call that person and beg for money. I'd give him a very stingy allowance. For life. He and Linda could have all the food they need, but no botox and no ski lift tickets.

        If Bill Erpenbeck misled home buyers and used their money to finance tequila parties, first I would make him face life without his raspberry-flavored vodka shots. “Bill,” I would say, “the party and the purple hooters are over.”

        Then I'd remand him to the nearest homeowner's association. If he survived the yardwork and disputes over allowable garage door colors and flagpole etiquette, I'd put him in a dunking booth outside the Waterfront. The man who decreed that all his employees should endure endless repetition of “American Pie” would be strapped to a Walkman playing an endless polka loop.

        Mean but not expensive.


Criminal stupidity

        Instead of long prison terms for young toughs caught with a tiny cache of crack, I'd give them the same penalties as we do the big-time powder users. And instead of letting them swagger back to their neighborhood in their “jailing” attire — low-slung pants with their underwear showing, I'd make them wear something silly. Maybe lime green pants and wingtips. Or a bowling shirt.

        A man such as Richard King, who refuses to get a job because his wages would be used to support his 10 children, would be closely supervised by probation officer Lorena Bobbitt.

        Since the early 1970s, the number of state prisoners has increased 500 percent. Now, there are more than 2 million inmates in state and federal prisons and local jails, held at a cost of more than $30 billion a year. Prisons became the fastest-growing item in state budgets.

        In the Kingdom of Juris, thugs would be locked in the dungeon and the greedy would be treated as buffoons and jesters.

       E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call 768-8393.


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- PULFER: Cheap, nasty