On Monday, federal prosecutors announced that they were seeking a maximum sentence for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who was found guilty of conspiracy in December 2015.
Considering what Blankenship is guilty of doing — breaking safety laws that could have saved the lives of 29 people who died at an explosion in one of his West Virginia mines — you’d think it likely he would spend the rest of his life in prison for the death of those 29 people.
Well, think again.
Despite having the blood of almost 30 people on his hands, Blankenship will only spend at maximum one year in prison.
This is the punishment federal prosecutors are now asking for, and even they think it doesn’t go far enough in taking into account the scale of his crimes.
In his court-filing demanding that Blankenship get the maximum one-year sentence, Assistant US Attorney Steven Ruby said that, “Under any fair assessment, only a sentence of many years in prison could truly reflect the seriousness of [the defendant’s] crime … A year is woefully insufficient … but under the law on the books, it is the best the court can do.”
Don Blankenship kills 29 people and only goes to prison for a year, while the kid down the street sells a few joints and gets locked up for 20 years. Such is life in the US criminal legal system, where the rich and powerful literally get away with murder and the poor and oppressed get the shaft and then some.
This kind of situation is, theoretically at least, what the much-vaunted bipartisan criminal legal reform effort in Congress is meant to stop. It’s claimed to the bridge towards a…