What’s the Difference?

I just wanted to write a quick post about the odd discrepancy I see — and I’m not sure why there is a discrepancy at all between these two cases. As I was looking at various web articles last night, I came across this AP story about Pfc Jesse Spielman getting 110 years in prison with an opportunity for parole after 10 years for being involved in a rape and murder case. Three other soldiers were also given sentences — sentences that ranged from 5 to 100 years. The group of soldiers entered a house, took turns raping a 14 year old girl, and murdered the girl, her parents, and her sister.

Does this sound familiar at all? This is almost the same crime against the Petit family. I am mainly anti-death penalty — and it is the kind of viewpoint I want to develop in a non-emotional state of mind, because obviously, emotions will affect my rational decision making ability. And yet, I could be convinced of using the death penalty in a case like the Petit assaults and murders. The Connecticut prosecutors have charged the perpetrators with capital felony — which would either get them life imprisonment without the chance of parole or death by lethal injection. I think in this case, I actually see the merit of that possibility (though I still am very conflicted and need to think further on this).

Why, then, weren’t prosecutors seeking the same for the pfc’s who committed an almost identical crime on an Iraqi family? They raped a child. They killed two children. They murdered an entire family. The sentences range between 5 years and 110? 5 years!?! I’m not necessarily suggesting that the soldiers involved should receive the death penalty, but parole in 10 years? And a 5 year sentence? People make a lot of noise about making sure sex offenders are registered and publicly known. How about the punishment fitting the crime? How about at least some consistency? I realize the two cases are being tried in different realms — one the world of civilians, one the world of the military. I also understand that the stress of war, and the stress of being overseas in a less than successful mission drives people to do some pretty horrible things, like <a href="My Lai, but this was premeditated — they planned it.


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