Reading the morning Google News articles on embezzlement, I was truly flabbergasted when I saw this story.
In my experience it has been difficult if not impossible to have a convicted embezzler see the inside of a jail cell. If sentencing has included any jail time at all, it was common for the term to be very minimal, and frequently it was served at a half-way house or equivalent. “We have limited space in our prisons, and we need that space for the violent criminals” is a common response I have heard, not that I could argue with that logic.
But still, I truly believe the level of theft and embezzlement is where it is today because individuals no longer fear the consequences of their actions, meaning they don’t perceive their chance of going to jail as being realistic if they steal large amounts of money from their employers or anyone else for that matter. In sentencing I have experienced in my cases, I can’t argue with that either.
So, much to my surprise, when I saw that a woman was convicted and sentenced to twenty (20) years in jail for embezzling $408,500, an amount less than a million dollars, I took notice. I have had individuals convicted of stealing well over a million dollars and receive a fraction of what Ms. Mattoon received.
I am by no means saying I believe someone who embezzles should not be appropriately punished for their actions, because I firmly believe there should be genuine consequences for stealing any amount of money. I am seeking, though, some level of consistency in the sentences received by individuals convicted of embezzling, so that we can see the perceived and genuine risk of going to jail return, reducing the frequency of occurrence for victims of these crimes.
I am just trying to equate embezzling with twenty years. Do you think someone who stole $408,500 should have received a prison sentence of twenty years?
Here’s the URL link to the story: