Apparently in this country you become ineligible to eat if you have a record of criminal drug offenses. States have the option of opting out of that federal ban, but Mississippi is not one of those states. Since McLemore had four drug convictions in her past, she was ineligible to receive food stamps, so she lied about her past in order to feed her two children.
The total "cost" of her fraud was $4,367. She has paid the moneyback. But paying the money back was not enough for federal Judge HenryWingate.
Wingate had the option of sentencing McLemore according to federalguidelines, which would have left her with a term of two months to eightmonths, followed by probation. Not good enough! Wingate was so outraged by McLemore’s fraud that he decided to serve her up the deluxevacation, using another federal statute that permitted him to give herup to five years.
He ultimately gave her three years, saying, "The defendant's criminalrecord is simply abominable …. She has been the beneficiary of government generosity in state court."
Taibbi contrasts this with the complete lack of prison time for anyone on Wall St who stole billions of dollars, highlighting the 'one rule for the rich and one for everyone else' philosophy that seems to be the accepted norm in modern America.
It is a sad state of affairs that monstrous crimes committed by the elite are so big that they are simply ignored. The truth is that the bankers on Wall St are the government and vice versa. The government under either party are basically a heirarchy of bankers and business men who get into power by having their rich friends bankroll their ascent to power. The last thing they are going to do is prosecute their buddies for theft and fraud - who will then pay for their re-election?
Single mothers with drug habits don't fund elections, so those in power get to wag their fingers and look morally superior. Unfortunately in this case, Ms McLemore was literally forced to starve or go to prison - a shocking indictment of a justice system that is supposed to be blind.
Image by NCReedplayer via Flickr