I tend to agree with Alan Gold, writing in The Australian, that prison for Jones consitutes the least of her real punishment, and serves no public safety purpose:
Over at Sentencing Law & Policy, commenter William Jockusch made a comparison that shows how bizarre this punishment seems to me:
The six months, though, is only a small part of her sentence. Quite as punishing has been her exposure before the world's media, an admission to her family and her fans that she's a liar and a cheat; being stripped of her medals; and the expurgation of her name from the record books. Not allowed to represent her nation at the Beijing Olympics, Jones no longer has an athletic career, her life is in tatters and all the years of sacrifice and exhaustive training have come to naught because of her weakness and artifice. Her use of drugs and the lies she told to avoid punishment have ruined any future to which she might have looked forward.
Which begs the question, what additional value is there in locking her up in prison when she is already serving a sentence of humiliation witnessed by people across the world? ...
For Jones, and for criminals who pose no real threat to society, to be sent to prison for their misdemeanours adds a substantial financial burden to the state and exponentially increases the severity of the sentence. In Jones's case, prison is arbitrary and unnecessary. What value is there, other than revenge, in Jones's incarceration? As one of the world's most brilliant athletes - with or without drugs - surely society would be far better served by her doing neighbourhood charitable work, or training youngsters, or sweeping the streets under a community service order. By doing so, she would be purging her crime to society, benefiting those less fortunate and returning daily to her young children.
As to her punishment for her crimes, or the rehabilitation which is the theoretical value of incarceration, the fact that no American team or event will accept her as an athlete is surely chastisement enough.
[C]ompare Marion Jones with Mike Nifong:
A prosecutor lies to try to get three innocent people convicted, continually denies his crime, gets a state sentence of 1 day, and the Feds decline to investigate.
A non lawyer lies to investigators about steroids. A federal prosecution ensues. The defendant pleads guilty and gets 6 months.
What is wrong with this picture?
What's wrong, indeed? That observation gets a lot closer to my own beef with the hypocrisy of steroid investigations in sports: Federal investigators are ignoring a rising epidemic of steroid use among law enforcement officers, while targeting athletes many of whom committed no crime at the time they took the since-banned substances. Where are the headlines about feds securing indictments against juicing police officers or military contractors?
Marion Jones will be and has already been punished ... by her sponsors, by her sport, by her friends and peers, and through her general public disgrace. What is gained from locking her up away from her family compared to all that? I sure don't see it.UPDATE: Marion Jones talks to Oprah.