Here are two current cases in the news today and although in the first case a sentenced has not been handed down as of this writing, I am willing to bet that the first case will be dealt with harsher consequences.

An elderly nun and two other peace activists are set to be sentenced Tuesday on their federal convictions for damage they caused breaking into a Tennessee defense facility, where enriched uranium for is stored.

Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed admitted cutting fences and making their way across the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in July 2012, embarrassing U.S. officials and prompting security changes.

The three were convicted by a federal jury last May of damaging a national defense premises under the sabotage act, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years, and of causing more than $1,000 of damage to U.S. government property.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for Rice, 83, to receive up to a little more than seven years in prison; Walli, 65, more than nine years; and Boertje-Obed, 58, more than eight years.  The defendants have been in custody since their conviction.

Prosecutors have asked that the defendants receive sentences in line with federal guidelines.  The defendants have asked for lesser sentences.

Defense attorneys argued in court documents that the three were “completely nonviolent” when they were arrested and this act was a symbolic act for nuclear disarmament and not a terroristic one.

Prosecutors contended the break-in at Y-12 disrupted operations, endangered U.S. national security, and caused physical damage that cost more than $8,500 to repair.

The activists admitted cutting several fences, walking through the complex for hours, spray-painting slogans and hammering on the walls of the facility.  When a guard confronted them, they offered him food and began singing.

Now, I am not proposing that they should walk with a period of probation, but restitution and a year or two in prison with credit for time served seems more than appropriate, in this case.

Now for the other story in comparison.

Two Colorado brothers whose contaminated cantaloupe farm was tied to 33 deaths in one of the nation’s worst food-borne sickness outbreaks won’t have to serve prison time.

A federal court judge in Denver on Tuesday sentenced Eric and Ryan Jensen to five years’ probation and six months’ house arrest and ordered them to pay $150,000 each in restitution. They had been facing as much as six years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

The Jensens’ farm in eastern Colorado on the Kansas border was identified as ground zero for a listeria outbreak in 2011.  The cantaloupes grown there killed 33 people and hospitalized 147 others across 28 states, prosecutors.

The brothers were willing to plead guilty because “it happened on their watch,” although they didn’t want the plea to imply there was intentional wrongdoing or they knew about the contaminated cantaloupes beforehand.

Prosecutors were also asking for probation, in part, because the brothers met with the families of many of the victims and assisted in the investigation.

The pair’s farm in May 2011 began using the same system to wash potatoes to clean cantaloupes, too.  But they neglected to use a chlorine spray that could have greatly cut down bacteria.

The listeria bacterium is found in soil and can cause headaches, convulsions and stiff neck, according to the CDC.  Older adults, pregnant women and those with susceptible immune systems are most at risk for a fatal infection.

Although I readily agree that this incident was not premeditated, it still resulted in the deaths of 33 unfortunate people and like any other negligent act where there is loss of life; probation seems lacking in punishment, to say the least.

So, all we can do is wait and see, but I would guess that national security will trump the killing of its citizens and what a shame if $ 8500 is more valuable than 33 people losing their lives.

 

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