Thursday, May 25, 2006

restorative justice

Well, the Enron verdicts have come back and they're guilty. Lay faces up to 45 years in federal prison and Skilling up to 185. Sentencing is set for September 11 (boy that is a wonderful coincidence).

The Enron scandal and the crimes behind it exemplified the worst in capitalism and in human greed. Something inside me hopes these men get the maximum sentences allowed. They brought financial ruin to thousands of people while they lived lives of incredible luxury. There is another instinct in me though... Wouldn't it be nice to see restorative justice play a part in their sentences? Some kind of justice that helps make things more like what they were or at least like what they might have been...

What might that look like? some ideas...

take everything they and their immediate families own and distribute their assets among those who suffered because of their fraud.

take everything related to the benefits that came from their fraud i.e. from family members who benefited from their crimes. Gifts given to family & friends, etc.

spread intangible benefits other family and friends received from the crimes among the victims... For example, if there are children who were educated with those funds, they should be assessed on their earnings for the rest of their lives that come from their education and the contacts they made due to their financial status. I have to say that my gut recoils a little at assessing the earnings of children etc. but that does reflect the realities of class in our society and how difficult it is to move upward... anyone who had their financial futures (and those of their heirs) ruined could see that impact for generations. Perhaps the restoration needs to travel at least one generation...

have Skilling and Lay spend the rest of their lives, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week working for those whom they hurt. That might mean doing menial jobs like cleaning toilets, caring for those folk as they age and deteriorate, etc.

any other thoughts?


Dennis E. McFadden said...


I love the idea of restorative justice becoming part of sentences in America. Punishment qua punishment accomplishes little. And, why waste the considerable talents of Dr. Lay and Mr. Skilling who should be compelled to undo some of the damage they have done. I balk a little at the idea of assessing the life earnings of the kids; but we could talk abut that one some more.

Rob said...

It is odd that justus without restoration is still considered justice. It sounds more like vindication to me if we leave restoration out of the picture.

The proceeds of their greed should not be used to keep their families conformable as it likely is now.

Any parent would be really mad at me if they caught their child steeling. Some sort of wealth distribution is needed. I say they enlist their scamming and scheming skills to do some Robinhood sort of action from behind bars. Force the to embezzle money from their family and friends and distribute that money back to the victims.