The McDonnell trial is over. They were both found guilty on a majority of the counts. Both could easily go to prison. But is prison the best placement for the McDonnells?
I have gone soft. I admit it. However, let’s review a few points. The McDonnells did not break any Virginia laws. Secondly, I am not sure quid pro quo was clearly established.
For certain the McDonnells were greed, stupid and unethical. However, there really aren’t laws against those negative behaviors. Yes, they should have known better and clearly he can’t pile it all on his somewhat silly adolescent-like almost senior citizen wife.
We do have to ask ourselves though, is prison the smartest place for either of them? They just don’t seem like prison material to me. We also need to dispel the myths that there are “country-club” prisons. There really is no such thing. Even federal prisons are filled with dangerous gangsters and drug dealers, for heaven’s sake.
Prisons cost money. Prison is a billion dollar industry as it is. Why add to the burden with people who have already been broken. How about 1500 hours of community service in a community health center for the poor? I would even like to see teaching English in some school in the low rent district in Richmond for a year–something that humbles, not destroys. (although there are probably people out there who might disagree about destroys.)
I don’t want to see the McDonnells go to prison. I want to see Virginia make some laws that deal with ethics and how people are supposed to act while in public office. Being elected to public office is not a free pass of entitlement. Virginia lawmakers need to learn this lesson fast.
Disclaimer: I did not like 95% of Governor McDonnell’s decision while he was in office. I am certainly not a fan. I just don’t feel they should go to prison.