Sentences should punish criminals

Intermittent sentences, postponed sentences and furlough days for local offenders heading to jail seems to have become a regular part of sentencings in Washington County.

An argument can be made for the special sentences when it may cause the loss of a job, or when it would mean a medical procedure would come during a jail stay and lead to extra expense for taxpayers.

Even in those cases, exceptions may be being made too often.

We see the value of taking steps to ensure that those serving time still have jobs when they have finished their sentences so they may be less likely to rely on public assistance, or crime, for their income.

But shouldn’t the fear of possibly losing your job be one of the deterrents to committing a crime?

If you know you have a good chance of just getting a weekend jail sentence or other special circumstances, it may be worth it to go ahead and commit the crime for those who don’t have a strong moral compass.

And in some recent cases locally, special exceptions by judges haven’t involved employment or added taxpayer expense.

Those are the cases that really irk us.

For example, a man sentenced for two felonies last month in Judge Randall Burnworth’s courtroom was not only given weekends in jail for his sentence but will be released for a weekend to attend his son’s wedding.

What both the judge and Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider should have said when the man said he didn’t want to miss the family occasion is: “too bad.”

When you commit a crime, you should expect a consequence that will, at the very least, be inconvenient and disruptive to your life. If you go to jail, you will miss parties, milestones and special occasions.

These special sentences are being given to people committing felonies, not minor traffic violations. In many cases, they are repeat offenders. They don’t seem to be learning and that’s not surprising considering how softened some of the sentences seem to be.

We’re not even calling into question the length of the sentences and whether they’re the minimum or maximum and should or shouldn’t be (at least not today) but just how they are served.

Incarceration of a criminal is meant to not only protect the public but to serve as a punishment and deterrent to committing a crime. We wish some of our public office holders would be more firm in handing down those punishments.