Wesley Snipes was convicted in 2008 of three misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay income tax returns on the $38 million he earned since 1999 and will begin his sentence tomorrow (12/9/10). Felony charges were dropped earlier in the trial.
In his appeal on CNN’s Larry King Live (video below) Snipes said, "Larry, it’s interesting…It’s presented as though I am worthy of this kind of punishment. It’s been presented as though he [Wesley Snipes] is getting his just due. Larry, I’ve been a law-abiding citizen ever since I grew up in the Bronx, NY." But what does his good work have to do with failing to file tax returns?
TV celebrity Judge Joe Brown was interviewed and supported Snipes' arrogant claim to be above the law.
I agree that Snipes should not go to prison, but my reasoning has nothing to do with whether or not he’s a good person or if he has done good work for the community. The better question is what type of sentence should he serve?
Snipes shouldn’t go to prison for one simple fact: he is not a violent or repeat offender. Does anybody in Florida, which is where Snipes lives, see him walking down the street and think, “RUN! Run for your lives! Wesley Snipes is coming!” No. The thought is laughable.
Our country has a bad habit of locking up non-violent, first-time criminal offenders. Some people are dangerous and should be put in prison for a long, long time. Then there are people who effectively steal from the government for not paying their taxes. The later should be fined, forced to pay the back taxes, sentenced to community service, or something of the sort.
These policies that use prison as the de facto response to nearly every crime are unaffordable, ineffective at deterring crime, and do nothing for victims. While the “I’m a good guy” appeal shouldn't excuse anyone of responsibility for commiting crime, we need to rethink the way we punish certain criminals.
Am I alone on this? What do you think? ----- Here is the video of the interview: