Last week I watched a documentary on the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping. Watching the show got me thinking about Phillip Garrido's sentencing and how excessive it is. Now, before this post gets lit up with comments accusing me of condoning this asshole's behavior, let me state for the record that I DO NOT condone what Garrido did. What I'm questioning is the absurdly long sentence he received.
Think about that for a second -- 431 years.
Here's what the Eighth Amendment says:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.
"Nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted". 431 years is cruel and unusual. Why not just say "life in prison without parole"? Is putting Garrido away until he's 489 years old (he's 58 now) really going to send a message or make a difference? I highly doubt it. It's a ridiculous sentence.
At least one of the Garridos' neighbors agrees with me:
[...]he's not going to live 400 years. It makes no sense to convict somebody of 400 years when you know we have maybe 20-30 years left,
I realize I'm probably arguing semantics here -- 431 years is essentially life in prison -- but I just don't get why the judge didn't explicitly say that. Again, I don't see what "431 years" says any better than "life imprisonment". 431 years isn't going to negate the fact Dugard and her children are scarred for life or send Garrido to Hell any faster. So, really, what's the point?
Put it this way: Garrido would be EXECUTED sooner. And look at how long inmates wait on Death Row.
Somehow I don't think this is what the Founding Fathers envisioned when they architected the criminal justice system. Someone should petition the Supreme Court to review the Constitutionality of sentences like Garrido's. I'd love it if (one of the liberal Justices anyway) ruled crap like this unconstitutional. The ideal ruling would be the maximum sentence couldn't exceed a person's life expectancy.
Where have you gone, Earl Warren?