Saturday, June 12, 2010

Comical considerations: town embezzlers and their punishment

Almost comical it is how every few years, every now and then, some local selectman is found dealing drugs with a known dealer, or some assistant town clerk is found to have embezzled as much money as anyone else might have earned in a lifetime, that being all the money the town had had in its till. The District Attorney is notified and off he or she goes to arrest the culprit; and then he or she, the culprit, goes to court, and presumably is punished somehow.

It is not really known by me what eventually happens to these people. Do they get a large fine (not paid with town takings) and six months in prison? My son once corrected me about describing prison, when it was jail he was talking about--heaven forbid the guilty embezzler has only to go to jail, if jail is all my son holds it up to be, much more pleasant than not, apparently.

Something worse must be provided as punishment for the crime of embezzlement. Maybe there ought to mandated, instead of jail, a counseling process for the depraved one, a group session with other defunct town government officials, all of them local people gone bad who had cheated their own neighbors out of their hard-earned money for their own private gain.

How did that FEEL, Dr, Phil would ask them. How does it make you FEEL to quietly deflect a few dollars here and there from the main town revenue flow into your own bank account?? YOU--an esteemed selectmen, a reputable, retired drug store merchant who has been considered FOR YEARS a leader of the other selectman, involved in local issues, active in solving local problems--??...... meeting with A KNOWN DRUG DEALER in the wee hours of the morning, exchanging what turns out to be town money--money entrusted to you by the VERY CITIZENS who employed and trusted you? What sort of mind were you IN when you let yourself think only of yourself and NOT of the public trust? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??

Dr. Phil would demand to know these things of the ashamed, condemned, and court-assigned support-group attendees slumped in their chairs in a circle in his interactive, televised public forum--a sort of latter day in-stocks situation to say the least. Each condemned person would be forced to reveal his inner thoughts and how now with reborn hope he or she could move on and try to apply some of the skills he or she had learned in the group amongst others of his or her ilk in reforming his or her wearily depraved ways......

And these people in the court-mandated support group--fellow felons and/or civil criminals arrayed in a circle and made to equally to confess the thoughts, and more importantly, the feelings associated with the robbing of the town till--would be like a group of friendly, supportive brothers and sisters and friends, siblings in crime. Would that really be punishment adequate for stealing the royal seal and running off with it to Baruba? I say no. And just jail and a fine is out too.

Anything, I think, must be a better punishment than just jail, which, according to my son, can be an okay place indeed! My son claims he experienced clear unbroken good dreams for three nights straight while he had to be in jail once for not paying a fine--and wouldn't mind going back. In fact, he told me with an expression of tender reminiscence on his face, one of the guards had invited him to a party right after he got out, and they had gone on out together into the evening to have a good old time that very moment. We would not want our embezzling assistant clerk out partying and having good dreams would we? Clearly a short jail term cannot be sufficient punishment for such dishonesty and disingenuity: indeed, might not said jail experience encourage more of the same?

I am for the support group, yes, but also a short prison term. Three months in prison--just long enough for PTSD to set in and establish a pattern of psychological instability leading to a future disability check might suffice as punishment both to the criminal and the society which nourished him. That, and a fine. Prison and a fine are of course the least of the punishment. The worst by far, and the most enduring,is the support group.

In prison, which is the one with the tiny room and the clanging doors and the impenetrable grimness of aspect and hopeless daily dreariness, the condemned man or woman would have BAD dreams--probably about not getting away with the rainy day fund after eleven successful years of doing so while even best friends never knew. Worse still, probably no more yearly visits to Baruba. But the special combination of support group, counseling with Dr. Phil, and a short prison term seem.....appropriate.

Perhaps, indeed, these people are destined to do this for our public amusement. And of course, not funny to consider--or maybe funnier, depending on who you are--there are those who are still at this moment getting away with it, our poor dishonest fellow human beings who, though currently content and successful so far at their dark, secret doings, remain at imminent risk of being suddenly arrested and inserted into a support group for life. It would seem quite a deterrent, wouldn't it?

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