Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jun 2003
Source: Tennessean, The (TN)
Copyright: 2003 The Tennessean
Author: Richard Romfh


To the Editor:

A judge recently sentenced Sam Waksal, CEO of ImClone, to 87 months in 
prison and ordered him to pay $3 million in fines for insider trading. The 
fines, I agree with: The prison sentence, I don't.

Prisons should be used to isolate violent criminals from the rest of 
society. Yet some violent criminals are sentenced to less hard time than 
Sam Waksal. Also, our prisons hold too many nonviolent offenders, including 
recreational drug users and white-collar criminals.

We would be better off sentencing nonviolent criminals to community 
service. Sam Waksal, an astute businessman, could be sentenced to 87 months 
helping and teaching proprietors of struggling businesses, perhaps in our 
minority communities, to improve sales, services, and efficiency. Fewer 
inmates means relief for our overburdened prison systems at a savings of 
taxpayer dollars. Those who break parole could find themselves back in 
prison with even longer sentences.

With today's technology, nonviolent criminals could live at home and pay 
their own upkeep. The savings could be used to fund more parole officers to 
monitor those sentenced to community service. This arrangement would 
benefit the entire community: the prison system, taxpayers, nonviolent 
criminals, and struggling businesses and their customers.

Richard Romfh

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