In recent months, several high-profile court cases have seen the rise of a new legal tactic: being ‘too good for prison’.
As some lawyers will try and have you believe, some members of our society just aren’t cut out for jail. In fact, jail time will only serve to make them a worse criminal than they already are. Whether they’re too rich, too famous, too young, or too talented; prison just isn’t the place for them… even if they are rapists, murderers, or thieves.
Just last week, Judge Aaron Persky was clear in his explanation of Stanford rapist Brock Turner’s prison sentence: it was so short (just six months) because anything longer would “have a severe impact on him.”
And in a report to the court, paralympian and accused murderer Oscar Pistorius was described by his psychologist as “broken” and unfit to handle jail, adding that, “in my opinion, his current condition warrants hospitalisation.”
Add these two incidents to a long list of privileged men and women who consider themselves ‘too good for jail’ – and you need to start wondering what punishment they were expecting, for the serious crimes they committed.
I remember the utter shock I felt when Martha Stewart was sent to prison in 2004 for five months. Martha Stewart? A celebrity? In prison? It seemed remarkable that someone so high-profile and so wealthy was not (as I assumed she would be) above the law.
It was the same feeling last week when high-profile Sydney banker Oliver Curtis was found guilty of insider trading and sentenced to five years jail time. Although it remains to be seen whether or not Curtis will serve any of his time behind bars, the sentiment was there all the same: this was not a guy who should be in prison.