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September 24, 2008

Proof nobody can be trusted in the criminal justice system

Joseph Stalin supposedly said, "I trust no one, not even myself."  Though few should consider Stalin a great giver of advice, this local Ohio story highlights why a "trust no one" mantra is applicable in some modern criminal justice systems.  The story is headlined "Former Pickaway corrections officer sent to prison for stealing from inmates," and here are the basics:

A former corrections officer was sentenced this morning to three years in prison for stealing about $18,000 from prisoners' accounts at the Pickaway County jail.  Karen S. Brown, 46, of Circleville, pleaded guilty to theft in office and repaid the stolen money prior to being sentenced by Common Pleas Court Judge P. Randall Knece.

Brown, who faced a maximum of five years in prison, also was banned from public employment for life.  A long-time deputy until she was fired, Brown was in charge of handling cash taken from prisoners when they were booked and depositing the money into a trust account. She altered bank-deposit slips and stole some of the cash.

September 24, 2008 at 01:41 PM | Permalink


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"Brown, who faced a maximum of five years in prison, also was banned from public employment for life."

That caught my eye. Is that normal in these situations? It seems to me contrary to sound public policy and perhaps even unconstitutional. It would be one thing to ban her from being in a position of public trust; but the report suggests she couldn't even be hired as a janitor, which seems plain silly.

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 24, 2008 1:59:49 PM

Punishment in this country has little relationship to the crime. It is pure retribution and meant to destroy a person's life forever. In Illinois convicted felons are completely barred from working for state government in any capacity for five years by statute. That's why false criminal charges in Illinois are so useful at destroying a political opponent.

Posted by: Dr Linda Shelton | Sep 24, 2008 3:34:42 PM

The part of the sentencing order banning public employment for life is showboating on the part of the judge.
As a practical matter it is unenforceable and it is unlikely to be subject to a constitutional test (no harm/no foul). OTOH a prison sentence for a felony will prevent her obtaining many public sector jobs so the add-on to the sentencing order is just hype.

Posted by: John Neff | Sep 25, 2008 12:17:32 AM

I never would have believed a corrections officer to be trustworthy to begin with.

Posted by: DK | Sep 25, 2008 8:29:24 PM

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