Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Was It Excessive?

As my colleague Xtra has pointed out earlier today President Bush yesterday commuted the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby so that he will not have to serve a day in jail for the four federal felonies that he was convicted of.

In the president’s statement concerning Libby he stated:

“I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison.”

I was curious exactly how “excessive” Libby’s sentence actually was under federal sentencing guidelines so I looked into it.

Basically here is how the federal sentencing guidelines work; first each of the charges Libby was convicted of uses an applicable sentencing guideline, so for Libby the judge used obstruction of justice, perjury, and providing false statements. Each of these crimes is given a point value, you then utilize the grouping rules since he was convicted of multiple crimes and come up with a final point value. After you come up with a final point value you then use the sentencing table to figure out how many months the person should serve (since Libby has no prior criminal record he falls under category I of the Criminal History Category).

Now I have no idea what the judge used as a basis for deciding whether or not Libby should fall on the high or low end of the sentencing guidelines but the lowest his guidelines would be is the 15 to 21 month range and the highest would be the 24 to 33 month range.

So was Libby’s sentence “excessive”?

Maybe or maybe not but the 30 month sentence still falls right in line with federal sentencing guidelines and zero months in jail certainly does not.

Here is what makes this move by President Bush extremely hypocritical. In early June Attorney General Alberto Gonzales held a press conference where he announced that the Bush Administration was urging Congress to re-impose mandatory minimum sentences against federal convicts.

So basically the Bush administration wants to ensure that all federal convicts (except Libby of course) serve a mandatory time in prison.

No comments: