Friday, November 18, 2011

Mississippi in the news

Judge Wingate sentenced a woman to three years in prison for lying on a food-stamps application (when the guidelines apparently would've called for two to eight months, tops). Matt Taibbi ponders the discrepancy of her fate to that of the Wall Street fraud artists who plunged this country into a recession while themselves making out like bandits.

As Chuang Tzu observed:
A poor man must swing for stealing a belt buckle,
but if a rich man steals a whole province,
he is acclaimed as statesman of the year.
(Merton paraphrase.)


  1. If you read the Clarion Ledger story, Wingate is obviously furious she had not been sentenced to any time on the 5 state court drug charges. Under the guidelines, those convictions therefore have much less weight in enhancing her guideline score. I think he's resenting that the state courts didn't give him a bit more help in lowering the boom.

    OTOH, this one had such a low guideline score even a year+ on those state charges would not have mattered enough to boost her sentence enough to require she serve anything more than probation.

    (Yes, I'm wonky enough to have run the guidelines on this after the comment on my blog asked about it. I'm trying to figure out what to say about it. Another thing that caused me to pause: The online version of the Clarion Ledger story was accompanied by a big picture of Judge Wingate, which is not a usual feature of stories off the court's docket like this. Am I being oversensitive to think the C/L was reminding us that the particular judge was black?)

  2. I am quaint enough to think that the state's "failure" to sentence to any time on prior unrelated convictions is not a problem for the federal courts to redress.

    Used to call that "federalism," I thought.

    ... Guess I missed your post about it.

  3. Haven't posted. Someone from ThinkProgress commented and asked why folks in Mississippi weren't posting about it, and I was sort of preparing one in my slow-motion way.

    I share your quaint notions.

  4. Judge Wingate:

    "a brilliant young woman I know was asked once to support her argument in favor of social welfare. She named the most powerful source imaginable, the look in a mother's face when she cannot feed her children. Can you look that hungry child in the eyes, see the blood on his feet from walking barefoot in the cotten fields, you ask his baby sister with her belly swollen from hunger if she cares about her daddy's work ethic?"-The Great Debaters