ShareThis Page
Crime & punishment: Apropos sentences |

Crime & punishment: Apropos sentences

| Monday, March 16, 2015 9:00 p.m

Once wrote Cicero, the great Roman political and social philosopher: “The greatest incitement to crime is the hope of escaping punishment.” Two recent cases highlight the fine line two judges navigated in hopes of negating such incitement and to punish criminals appropriately.

• Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jill Rangos, whom we’ve criticized previously for wet-noodle sentences, threw the book at convicted police dog killer John Rush of Stowe last week. Judge Rangos used every legal avenue available to her to send Mr. Rush to prison for 17¾ to 44 years. That time includes aggravated assaults against other police officers, including an attempt to disarm one. A manifest and recidivist threat to society received his due.

• Also last week, U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab sentenced former Millvale police officer Nicole Murphy of Shaler to three years’ probation (the first year with home confinement) and 300 hours of community service for thrice using a Taser on a handcuffed prisoner. The community service will involve lecturing law enforcement groups about such abuses. Federal prosecutors called that sentence a wet noodle. But it’s a more productive punishment than locking up Ms. Murphy, Judge Schwab said. An eminently rehabilitatable criminal has been given a second chance.

Neither Rush nor Murphy escaped punishment. The “incitement” for each has been stricken. What could be more appropriate?

Categories: Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.