Judge Richard Posner, famous for his scholarship on law and economics,
is among the most well-known jurists in the nation. According to Debra
Cassens Weiss with the ABA Journal, Posner recently weighed in on the
wisdom of imposing a “de facto” life sentence – or what
you could call a “knee-jerk” sentencing decision in a tough
child pornography and the 46-year-old defendant.
The defendant had been sentenced to 50 years in prison, meaning that he
would grow to be quite elderly behind bars.
In his concurring opinion, Posner wrote:
“[T]he cost of imprisonment of very elderly prisoners, the likelihood
of recidivism by them, and the modest incremental deterrent effect of
substituting a superlong sentence for a merely very long sentence, should
figure in the judge’s sentencing decision.”
In other words, while Posner appeared to agree with his colleagues that
the defendant’s appeal be dismissed, he made an effort to suggest
that a shorter sentence, even for an “unsympathetic” defendant
(the man took pictures of his sexual contact with an 11-year-old girl),
might make sense in light of the big picture.