Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ebbers Gets 25 Years - Have we lost our minds?

Ex-WorldCom CEO Ebbers sentenced to 25 yrs - Yahoo! News
: "Bernard Ebbers, the folksy entrepreneur who built WorldCom Inc. into a telecommunications giant, was sentenced on Wednesday to 25 years in prison for his role in the business fraud that led to the largest U.S. corporate bankruptcy."

Given the fact that Mr. Ebbers is 63 years old, that is a life sentence.

Last month John Rigas, the 80 year old founder of Adelphia received a 15 year sentence, again the equivalent of life.

While no one is condoning the actions of either of these men, there is something seriously wrong with our penal system when we are giving the heads of major corporations life sentences for their misconduct. Putting aside the lesser sentences given to violent criminals in our society, are we serving anyone's interest by sending business leaders (and these men were business leaders) to prison to rot for the rest of their lives?

Wouldn't society be better served if they were given a short sentence, a significant fine, and a requirement to work for Head Start or some charity that is helping startup corporations? Can't we even be a little bit creative in our punishments so that society can salvage something from these men?

Legal scholars are asking the same questions, but is anyone paying attention?
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