Monday, March 14, 2011

Bad verdict

I can see no compelling justification for putting five Somalis, who attacked a U.S. navy ship that for some reason they thought was a merchant vessel, in prison for life. This sentence, apparently mandatory in a piracy conviction (of which these are the first in a U.S. court since the early 19th century), seems excessive. It will simply add to the already absurdly large U.S. prison population.


hank_F_M said...


Piracy is commited on the high seas where there is a high probability that an accident will reslut in a fatal drowning.

It is accomplished by threating to kill the crew of the attacked ship if they don’t surrender.

The crew is frequently kidnapped for ransom.

The potential harm to others due to loss of cargo, higher insurance and shipping costs and disruption of normal economic activity is huge

It is grand theft.

It is commuted with prior intent it takes a certain amount of preparation that would not be necessary for legitimate activates.

It would seem to me that it is a crime that belongs on the higher range of punishments. Ten days in the county jail is clearly inappropriate.

Or simply what would you suggest?

LFC said...

I'm not sure exactly what I'd suggest, but life in prison seems excessive to me based on the facts as outlined in the brief article I linked to. (Apparently the judge had no sentencing discretion b/c the piracy statute requires life in prison.) If US policymakers think it's going to solve the piracy problem by prosecuting Somalis in US courts and putting them away for life, I think they're probably mistaken.