Punishment and Rehabilitation

Joseph Muto was an employee working on a Fox News opinion program when he was caught stealing material from the show and using it for personal gain.  What he and his lawyer said about the matter is instructive.


I wouldn’t have done it had I known I’d end up in this courtroom.  To answer your question of “was it worth it?” I wouldn’t have done it.

Notice that: there was no recognition, finally, that what he’d done was wrong; there was only regret that he’d gotten caught.  Still it does indicate the deterrence potential of punishment: a criminal wannabe who actually thinks through his crime before he does it has a chance of being persuaded not to.  Perhaps unfortunately, it also illustrates the uselessness of attempting rehab in our criminal system.  There has to be a recognition of wrong-doing before rehab from that can occur.

Florian Miedel, Muto’s lawyer, was quoted as saying that Muto should not have been treated like a criminal, despite admitting he’d stolen material from his employer.  This, of course, is cynical nonsense.  Why shouldn’t he have been treated like a criminal?  He was a criminal: he admitted to “attempted unlawful duplication of computer related material and attempted criminal possession of computer-related material.”

Miedel’s own words:

Making him accept a criminal conviction is unfortunate for conduct that is fairly commonplace in the industry.

Nonsense.  Miedel just acknowledged that theft is commonplace.  His logic plainly is that since crime is “fairly commonplace,” it should be excused.  This is morally bankrupt.

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