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May 8, 2018

"Are Elderly Criminals Punished Differently Than Younger Offenders?"

The question in the title of this post is the headline of this new piece at HowStuffWorks.  The question is prompted by the upcoming sentencing of 80-year-old Bill Cosby, and I had the pleasure of speaking to the reporter on the topic.  Here are excerpts from the piece (with a few links from the original):

After Bill Cosby's recent conviction in a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania court on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, the judge in the case rejected the prosecution's request that the 80-year-old comedian and actor, who his attorneys say is legally blind, be sent immediately to jail pending sentencing.   "With his age, his medical condition, I'm not going to simply lock him up right now because of this," Judge Stephen T. O'Neill explained when he allowed Cosby to remain at home on bail as he awaits sentencing, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Some think that decision gives a hint of how Cosby's sentencing will go.  Under the law, he could receive as much as 30 years in prison, and the state's sentencing guidelines recommend between five-and-a-half and nine years.  But as CNN reports, many legal experts suspect that Cosby may get a lesser sentence, at least in part because of his age and health.

The Cosby case raises a discomforting question.  Should elderly offenders be treated more leniently by the courts than younger criminals, because they have less time left to live, and because their physical frailty might make it more difficult for them to survive a prison term?....

The relatively few studies on the subject suggest that judges do often give older offenders a break.  One study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series B in 2000 found that in Pennsylvania courts, offenders in their 60s were 25 percent less likely to be sentenced to prison than those who were in their 20s, and their sentences were eight months shorter on average.  Those who were in their 70s got an even sweeter deal — they were 30 percent less likely to end up behind bars than 20-somethings, and those who were incarcerated served 13 months less on average.

More recently, a study by Arizona State University researchers, published in 2014 in the journal Criminal Justice Studies, similarly found that in the federal court system, judges gave older offenders a "senior citizen discount" when it came to jail time.

Prior related posts:

May 8, 2018 at 03:08 PM | Permalink


What a racist farce this trial was, by a male feminist running dog seeking to put a black man's pelt on the wall. Montgomery County is now a Democratic Party hellscape, and the hunt is on for the productive male. Cosby was at the top of Hollywood royalty, and the charges applied to crimes fully defensible by the consent of the victims. Here are missed tactics by the dunderhead, collaborationist defense.

Tactics Not Used in the Bill Cosby Defense

1) Feminism is to 2018 what the KKK was to 1918. It is a white supremacy ideology. The prosecutor has not prosecuted white men for this ubiquitous practice of using intoxicating substances. This prosecution was totally racist and feminist;

2) change of venue should have been requested to Lancaster County:

3) all admissions on prior depositions were the result of the implantation of a false memory;

4) nearly all witness testimony is a work of fiction, either written by the greedy witness or introduced
by the police. All such testimony should be verified by physical evidence of records from the time of the crime;

5) this verdict makes all offers of a drink to a lady an attempted rape;

6) lawyers have a duty to report unethical conduct to the Disciplinary Counsel, the defense should have reported the prosecution for its violations of its professional responsibilities as a prosecutor

Posted by: David Behar | May 8, 2018 3:23:37 PM

In response to the above diatribe. The old have less energy, and commit fewer crimes.

They have more health problems, and will bust the prison health budget. This effect has been covered endlessly in this blog. The posts have advocated transfers to nursing homes, where criminals can have sexually victimize mute demented patients.

Which way does the left want it? More prison time for the convicted? Or release of vicious predators in their old age?

Trump had sex with Stormy after a dinner, no pills. She failed to comment on what everyone wanted to know, the size. He probably served her wine. Should Trump be prosecuted for impairing her consciousness?

What Cosby did is not a crime, so found the prior jury. The #MeToo comes along, and now he is facing 30 years.

Racist lynch mob in Montgomery County, but only after generating $millions in lawyer fees. Much slicker than the KKK.

Posted by: David Behar | May 8, 2018 3:42:59 PM

If the excuses for the young (that their behavior should be excused because their brains haven't fully developed) is to be given any weight then elderly offenders should not get any break at all. I do not subscribe to that view myself because I see culpability as a rather low threshold rather than some sliding balance but I can certainly see benefit in treating someone who has lived their entire adult life as a criminal as harshly as the law allows.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | May 8, 2018 4:19:28 PM

SH: What if the elderly can show MRI's of brain shrinkage?

In my view, all mitigating factors are aggravating factors. Given the state of lawyer thinking, which is nuts but prevalent, and at the point of a gun. what if Cosby shows his brain MRI in court?

Posted by: David Behar | May 8, 2018 5:21:31 PM

Supremacy, you made 3 out if the first 4 posts. What gives, no life, boredom so you sit on this site? Recreation, thats it.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | May 8, 2018 10:46:25 PM

Hi, Mid. These are addressed to Bruce Cunningham.

Posted by: David Behar | May 8, 2018 10:58:38 PM

The prospect of dying in prison makes any prison term worse because there's no chance to earn redemption or to resume a regular life. It makes sense that there should be sentence compression early in life (less moral responsibility) and later in life (increased chance of dying in prison).

Posted by: Stephen Hardwick | May 9, 2018 8:53:18 AM

Consider, for illustration, the requirement new Philadelphia DA Kastner has imposed on his prosecutors, to determine whether it's economically worth it to the Commonwealth to incarcerate any defendant, at the estimated cost of $40-$60k/year and justify their decision before seeking prison time, at least for minor crimes. Add to that the additional costs of gerontological medical care and the further additional costs of ADA accommodation for convicted defendants who are blind, crippled or merely suffering the wear and tear of old age.
I once litigated a conditions-of-confinement case against a pro se prisoner who, because he'd been shanked in the spine some years before, had limited use of his legs and required (so he claimed) the use of crutches while incarcerated. Let your mind run to imagine the penological problems a pair of arm crutches - metal tubes - pose. That prisoner won judgment allowing him to have and use his crutches inside.
Give this some thought, and set aside the retributive instinct, when considering whether a prison sentence for an allegedly legally-blind 80 year old is even appropriate.

Posted by: scribe | May 9, 2018 10:52:41 AM

"The prospect of dying in prison makes any prison term worse because there's no chance to earn redemption or to resume a regular life."

I think you can earn redemption in prison.

Posted by: Joe | May 9, 2018 1:18:20 PM

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