Friday, November 20, 2015

Did Jared Fogle Get What He Deserves?

Jared Fogle became the face of Subway after he reputedly lost an ungodly amount of weight on a Subway sandwich diet, and he was, for a time, arguably one of America's most beloved pitchmen. But now he's become America's boogeyman in the wake of a 15 years and 8 months prison sentence resulting from a plea deal for soliciting and paying to have sex with minors and for possessing and trading in child pornography.

As one might expect, people are alternately vilifying him and celebrating his judicial fate. But I take no more pleasure in Fogle's predicament than I do from contemplating the harm he's caused his family and the children he allegedly abused. For I believe that Fogle's actions were the result of a sickness he couldn't resist and that this makes him as much a victim of that sickness as are any of the children he may have molested.

Thus, I have grave misgivings about his harsh sentence if it was imposed for retributively punitive reasons, because it seems to me unfair and unjust to inflict retributive punishment on someone for doing something he couldn't help but do.

I also doubt that such a lengthy sentence is a significantly larger deterrent than a much lesser sentence would be. I wonder if any research has been done in the area of the comparative deterrent effect of various prison sentences for these kinds of crimes.

One thing that such a long sentence WILL accomplish is prevent Mr. Fogle from abusing any more children for the duration of his incarceration. But if it were possible to know with certainty that he wouldn't abuse more children after he got out, I'd support letting him out far sooner.

It's my understanding that federal sentences like this tend to be carried out to the full or nearly so, and, indeed, I've read that Fogle will have to serve a minimum of 13 years no matter how well he behaves himself behind bars. And then he may face an even sterner test upon release as he confronts extreme social ostracisim and feelings of profound shame as well as the severe residential restrictions, occupational limitations, and other monumental hardships that attend having to register as a sex offender for the rest of one's life.

So, I'm thinking that he has a tremendously difficult road ahead of him as a result of his sickness, and, again, I feel sorry for him as well as for the children he abused.

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