Originally created 07/25/99

Probation for baby-killer

We're not usually ones to complain that punishments vary in different jurisdictions for similar crimes, but the wild discrepancy in sentences for Brigette Greene in a Richmond County court and Gail Baker in a Jasper County, S.C., court is distressing.

Greene is the deadly 21-year-old mom sentenced to a decade of prison time for tossing her newborn infant in the trash to die.

But for people who might think that penalty is too light, consider what Baker got. She's the 26-year-old former Army sergeant who left her 10-day old baby to virtually broil to death in a sweltering car while she gambled hours on end at a video poker casino.

Baker's sentence handed down by Circuit Judge Jackson Gregory: a suspended sentence and five years' probation. The only prison time she served was the 15 months waiting for trial. Ludicrous. She got away with murder.

To be sure, legal-eagles can serve up globs of technical mumbo-jumbo to explain (or excuse?) the unexplainable.

Greene pled guilty to reckless abandonment, a felony. Baker plea-bargained a charge of homicide by neglect, calling for a possible life prison term, down to involuntary manslaughter, carrying a maximum of five years.

What's "involuntary" about choosing to gamble and choosing to leave a baby alone in a deadly hot car? For ordinary people, Baker's sentence violates every canon of common sense. It's this type of "punishment" that undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system.


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