More Somali Priates to Be Our "Guests" For Life
8 of the 15 men charged with piracy in the deaths of two American couples on the Quest vessel hijacked in the Gulf of Aden will plead guilty . At least one (and likely at least three) will be sentenced to life in prison.
The lawyer for one who is pleading to a mandatory life sentence says, ""My guy doesn't know who pulled the trigger....He was trying to resolve the problem." But absent the plea, the lawyer says, he could face a death penalty charge. [More...]
The FBI press release when they were indicted said:
All 14 men were charged with piracy,
which carries a mandatory penalty of life in prison. In addition, the indictment also charges them with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and the use of a destructive device during a crime of violence. The latter charge carries a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, which would run consecutive to all other charges.
These crimes happened at the other end of the world. Why do we have to be the world's jailer, and spend millions of dollars to lock these young men up for life?
According to an April 27, 2010 memo from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the monthly cost of imprisoning a federal inmate is $2,271. For a year, that's $27,000 plus change.
For a 25 year old with a life sentence, assuming they live to 65 (life expectancy can be shorter in maximum security prisons), that's 40 years times $27,000, which equals $1,080,000 -- a million dollars.
If there are 14 such defendants in a single case, and all are convicted and sentenced to life in prison, that's $14 million just to house them. It doesn't include other costs, such as their lifetime medical care while in prison.
It doesn't include the cost of prosecuting them, or the cost of providing defense attorneys and expert services to those who are indigent.
Does anyone even remotely think this will have a deterrent effect on others in lawless Somalia, where kids grow up knowing nothing besides poverty and decades of warfare? The conditions in Somalia don't excuse murder but they are factors a court ordinarily could consider in determining the length of the sentence. But since the piracy offense carries a mandatory life sentence, it makes no difference.
Not to mention, it's unlikely they would even receive a fair trial in Norfolk, Virginia, where the Government chose to fly them and try them: As one of their lawyers wrote in a brief:
(1) the charged offenses were not committed in the Eastern District of Virginia;
(2) the defendants who are Somali nationals cannot be tried by a jury of their peers in the Eastern District of Virginia because there is no sizeable population of Somalis; and
(3) the venire to be drawn from the Eastern District of Virginia will be biased and prejudiced against the defendants as a result of the extremely large proportion of active duty and retired members of the United States Navy which reside here and the heavy press coverage this case has received from the local news media.
As I wrote in that last post:
America. Prison nation. Your tax dollars at work. No money for health care, but we have billions to spend on incarceration, including tens of millions on young Somali men who never stepped foot in the U.S. until dragged here after their arrest across the world.
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