Editorial: Potentially perilous calculation

Two-month term for eight-time offender just doesn’t add up

As part of his probation, repeat woman batterer James A. Thomas is to have “no violent contact with the victim.”

 

Which, of course, is tantamount to saying, “Now, don’t do that again!”

That – and but two months in jail – seems paltry little punishment for a man in court for his fourth domestic battery (who knows how many assaults have come in-between?) and who has a history of at least as many burglaries or thefts (that we know of).

Considering, too, that the 54-year-old’s crimes against society stretch way back to at least 1981, Thomas does, as one online commenter noted, seem too far gone for the customary anger management classes he was ordered to attend.

The victim in the most recent battery in November had told the lawyers in the case she didn’t want Thomas in prison. But at some point it becomes society’s call.

And in this instance, that point was probably reached years ago.

We’re frankly surprised and shocked by Judge Sheryl Jolly’s sentence. “Outrage,” is how one court observer characterized the reaction to the sentence. “This seems insane,” another reader told us.

“Did I read this correctly, the fourth as in #4?” one online commenter wrote. “What are the authorities waiting on, for him to kill before he is put away?”

We’re fairly certain the judge – who we frankly think a lot of – would note how many such low-grade repeat offenders the courts see, and how few of them can actually fit in overcrowded and costly jails and prisons. And, of course, the victim in this case was not interested in justice.

Society, though, must be – regardless of the cost. And while domestic battery may not be a high-grade crime from a legal standpoint, for most of us in polite society it’s a violent crime. Moreover, we’re fed up to the gills with crimes against women.

We’ve observed the goings-on in the courts for more than a while now, and we do wonder if harried judges, prosecutors and other attorneys sometimes get dizzy from the assembly line of criminal acts they deal with, and suffer from a sort of volume vertigo.

And, try as one might to put oneself in a victim’s shoes or to keep an eye on what society might think, halls of justice can be awfully antiseptic; as many real-world problems as step foot into a courtroom, real-world problems must almost be consciously contemplated to seem real there.

It’s doubtful either the judge or lawyers in this case realized what outrage the outcome would produce.

But letting an eight-time offender off with just a couple of months in the pokey is a big – and risky – calculation.

 

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