Published: 9/29/2020 12:28:07 PM I was struck by the length of the sentence given to a young man in Northampton — 15 to 20 years i...
Published: 9/29/2020 12:28:07 PM
I was struck by the length of the sentence given to a young man in Northampton — 15 to 20 years in prison (“Man gets 15-20 years in Cruz killing, burning,” Sept. 16)! Let’s, for a moment, forget about what he was charged with and think about what that means.
It feels like the COVID-19 emergency distancing measures have been in place forever. The Massachusetts state of emergency declaration was made on March 24, six months ago. A 15- to 20-year sentence would be the equivalent of going into prison for 30 to 40 times the length of the COVID emergency thus far.
In most other countries, sentencing lengths are far more lenient. In Germany, the punishment for intentional homicide is five to 15 years. The sentence in our “progressive” community, primarily for voluntary manslaughter, is three times longer than a punishment for intentional homicide might have been in Germany.
This is the reason why, if we were to compare the rate of incarceration in Massachusetts to the rest of the world as if it were its own country, it would rank as the ninth highest in the world — more punitive than every founding NATO country and closely followed by Belarus, Turkey, South Africa and Iran, according to the Prison Policy Project, 2018.
The direct cause of mass incarceration is not deeply complicated or far from home; it’s spelled out clearly on the front page of our local newspaper. If we really wish to end it, we can start by catching up with the rest of the world and send fewer people to prison and for far less time.