My Facebook friends are expressing their dismay that Paul Manafort was recently sentenced to only about 4 years in prison for tax evasion. CNN describes the prison sentence as “light” in “Manafort’s light sentence shines a light on US prison inequality”.
Certainly I would expect this kind of zeal for long prison terms from executives in the American prison industry, but none of these folks owe their paychecks to the incarceration mill.
How does Manafort’s first sentence (he’s still being chased by some other prosecutors for some other crimes) compare to sentences considered fair a few decades ago?
The Growth of Incarceration in the United States says that circa 1980, the average time served in prison for an American convicted of murder was 5 years.
Japanese war criminals responsible for killing thousands rather than millions of innocent people were released after about four years (nytimes, 1949; see also the Wikipedia page on Japanese war criminals (none served more than 13 years)). The typical convicted Nazi war criminal was released after a few years (Wikipedia list of the highest-profile ones). Some of the higher level ones were imprisoned until the mid-1950s (example: Otto Hofmann, one of the architects of the death camp system at the Wannsee Conference).
Damir Dosen was “indicted for persecutions, inhumane treatment and torture as crimes against humanity and for outrages upon personal dignity, torture and cruel treatment as violations of the laws or customs of war”, pleaded guilty, and was found “responsible for crimes against humanity”. The Bosnian Serb was sentenced to 5 years and served 3.5 (released in 2003).
How about Jussie Smollett? He has now been indicted for 16 felonies as a consequence of trying to expose Trump supporters for who they really are (unfortunately he didn’t know where to find any actual Trump supporters). He could be imprisoned for up to 64 years (Vox).
- “Senate Rebukes Trump Over Troop Withdrawals From Syria and Afghanistan” (nytimes, Jan 31, 2019), regarding pro-war votes by formerly anti-war politicians
- A person of questionable virtue sent me the below via private message: