Proper Sentencing for Bill Cosby that Could Make Society Better

I feel compelled to at least address the Bill Cosby situation as it goes right to the heart of the issue of sentencing and the purpose of incarceration. I would not want to be the judge that has to decide Cosby’s sentence. However, my guess is that given the political climate out there today and certain legal decisions the judge made in the second trial as opposed to the first, the judge is going to, in effect, give Cosby a death sentence in prison with the allowance that he be allowed out if he becomes terminally ill in prison so that he can die at home and/or in a private hospital.

To be clear, if as it seems, Bill Cosby used his influence and power to prey on woman in order to get them to engage in non-consensual sex, that is a heinous act that should be vehemently punished both in order to send a message that such behavior is completely unacceptable and, if Cosby was a younger man, to keep him off the streets so that he could not repeat such abhorrent behavior. The specific question though in this particular case, given Cosby’s age and health, is what is the correct punishment for his crime? Should Cosby, as I suspect he will, get in effect a death sentence in prison? Does that solve the problem and help society and his victims?

No doubt Bill Cosby’s victims were and are traumatized by his actions. But is putting Cosby, at his age and health, though prison going to help his victims? Are they going to get “closure” by Cosby’s jail sentence? Only the victims know the answer to this. For the sake of argument though, and looking at the bigger issue of incarceration and sentencing in America, I look at this specific case a different way. If Bill Cosby was a younger man and in better health, and if thus he could commit these crimes again, there is no doubt that he would need to be kept off the streets and forced into therapy until such time as reasonable people believed Cosby would never commit such heinous acts again. In my opinion, given his wealth, he also should have to compensate financially the victims and society to pay for treatment, education and intervention for victims of sex predators like himself. I don’t mean a slap on the wrist fine, I mean that he should have to pay such a large amount that it would drastically change his ability to live and function in the custom in which he is used to. That money could be put to use in so many ways to help victims of sex crimes.

But Bill Cosby is not a younger man and the chances of him committing these crimes again are zero, so is there possibly a better answer for society than incarcerating him in effect for the rest of his life? Rather than taxpayers paying for Cosby to rot and die in prison, why not take all his money and put it to so many needed programs to help victims of sex crimes? In this particular case, rather than us paying for Bill Cosby to rot in prison, why don’t we make him pay financially for his crimes so that his money can help others in need? Again, when I say pay I don’t mean a slap on the wrist, I mean the type of payment in which he would lose his home, his lifestyle and all his creature comforts. Those payments would actually help society while incarcerating him for a long time, other than sending a message, doesn’t help society.

So I ask in this particular case, under these particular facts, given Bill Cosby’s health, age and wealth what is the right punishment? Do we want vengeance, or do we want a sentence that can create some good? I am not smart enough to answer the question but there is no doubt that we need to look at the sentencing laws in this country and the incarceration rates and ask ourselves whether the current state of mass incarceration is working.

Again, my guess is, given the current political climate, the judge is going to throw the book at Bill Cosby for fear of political reprisal if he doesn’t do so. But the question remains, is that really the right answer? I look forward to your comments.

Lawrence Goldfarb’s new book, From Hell to Eternity, will be released in 2018. Sign up to receive news, information and updates.

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8 thoughts on “Proper Sentencing for Bill Cosby that Could Make Society Better”

  1. This opens several issues including :

    What dollar amount should Cosby keep to live out his life?

    At what age and wealth level would this type of sentencing be enacted?

    At what age does a predator stop preying?

    1. These are all good questions. I think each case would have to be thought through on a case by case basis by the judge. However, under mandatory sentencing guidelines, judges do not have a lot of discretion other than jail time and sometimes prison isn’t the right answer. I personally believe Cosby does need to do a stint in jail but a death sentence in jail in Cosby’s particular case doesn’t do the public any good when other penalties could better serve the public interest.

    2. This also means that those with money can literally buy themselves out of jail and poorer minorities will have no cash and society will lock them away. This is another way that you continue to increase the sentencing issues we have in this country.. you would never have suggested this if he was poor.

      1. No, that is not what I am saying at all. Cosby is a very unique specific one off case. He’s too old to commit another crime and he’s very rich. So in his very particular case and only in his particular case, all I am asking is whether there is a better solution and way to punish him than to have us the taxpayers pay for him to sit in prison?

    3. Its surprising that the author of this is an officer of the court. Cosby was convicted of a matter involving ONE woman, not women! Others were and remain mere allegations from encounters of decades ago. The scales were tipped against Cosby and he has paid money- $3.4 million to his accuser. 81 and blind and no chance to reoffend” what would you recommend as a sentence with those facts? stacybrownmedia@gmail.com

      1. I agree completely with all your points. I don’t know what the right sentence is, but I do believe that the public sentiment to throw the book at him and give him in effect a life sentence is not the right answer does not in and of itself serve any public good.

  2. Larry, let me ask you this. Assuming the same facts as the Cosby case, but this time the perpetrator is a similar age guy but with no assets at all. Absent the ability to confiscate his wealth as reparations, should he go to jail – and if so, why shouldn’t Cosby?

    1. Good question. I think both Cosby and the guy in your hypothetical should go to jail. My specific question is should they in effect get a death sentence. Both should get the same sentence presuming the same facts. The only reason I suggest taking Cosby’s money is he was it. My premise was that since Cosby has money, why not take it? Obviously he is going to jail. The question is for how long?

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