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Crime and Punishment (March 27, 1916)
Two weeks ago last Saturday was sentence day in the district court, at which time sentence was passed upon four prisoners who had been judged guilty either by a jury of their peers or pleas of guilty by the accused themselves.
This article is intended to deal with only two of the sentences in an attempt to show the inequality of them.
The first case was that of an Indian boy who pleaded guilty to the statutory crime of rape upon the person of a young girl under the age of consent, for which he was given ten years in the penitentiary.
This Indian boy committed the offense upon the person of a native girl. Less than a year ago another Indian was sentenced to the same institution for the same crime upon the same person.
The tribal laws are much more lax in these matters than the laws of the white race and they do not look at the matter in the light of the crime. They confine their attention wholly to their own race, and do no consider they are committing so heinous a crime as the white man would have it.
The other case was that of a man who has lived in the community for a number of years and has had the respect of the majority of the people of the community. He is a man of more or less education and supposed refinement and knows the laws of the country as well as, or better than, the ordinary man of affairs. He has held responsible positions ever since he came to the country. The man in question is Harry Badger.
The crime for which Mr. Badger pleaded guilty was for more serious than that of the case of the Indian, though the laws of the territory are very lax and the punishment very inadequate. The assault on small girls - the mothers of later years - is repulsive to every man with red blood in his veins, and it is the opinion of the majority of the community that imprisonment for six months in the federal jail or a fine of $500, or both fine and imprisonment, is the least punishment that should be meted out to such an offender.
There were three such charges against Mr. Badger, and had he been given the extreme penalty he would have received eighteen months and $1.500. Instead of the extreme penalty, however, he was sentenced on the first count to pay a fine of $250, on the second count to a fine of $500 and on the third count to imprisonment in the federal jail for a period of six months.
In the light of things was not the sentence of the Indian boy too much and that of Mr. Badger too little?
In imposing sentence upon Mr. Badger, Judge Bunnell stated that a number of influential citizens had seen him and interceded for Mr. Badger on account of his former good reputation. His attorney, Leroy Tozier, made an impassioned plea for his client, and stated that it was a disease with Mr. Badger which no amount of imprisonment or punishment would remedy, but that it would have to be met by science, and the prosecuting attorney was willing to accept the same theory, stating at the time that Mr. Badger was a personal friend of his, and left the matter of arriving at a suitable sentence entirely in the hands of the judge.
The Indian boy, because he did not have influential friends to intercede for him and no paid attorney to present a plea for leniency to the court, was sentenced to McNeil's Island for ten long years for doing that which his race does not consider particularly out of the way, while Mr Badger, who is thoroughly familiar with the laws of the land and knows the enormity of his crime, is sentenced to six months in the federal jail and find the sum of $750, which fine was immediately paid.
The people of the community cannot help but marvel at the inequality of the sentences and justly.