Letter: For a More Nuanced View of Crime

To the Editor:

What was the point of Nov. 29 front-page headline — “Prison Next for Lyme Swindler”— regarding Josephine Rich’s sentencing? This is sad, not important, news. Rich did swindle, but she is a person first and doubtlessly far more than the label you attached to her suggests. She, her family and community have paid a huge price for her misdeeds. I am not convinced that the prosecutor’s justification for her sentencing will dissuade another person from committing a similar crime. Acts like this are not driven by logic. They are driven by human frailty more than malicious intent.

I suspect that spending time in prison will serve her community and society less and cost more than her proposal to pay her dues by performing community service. We gain nothing by shaming others. Compassion and accountability serve the community far better. It takes far more courage and fortitude to be a presence in the community living with the realities of one’s actions than to be closeted away behind bars.

Again, I ask what purpose did the headline serve? What pleasure can the community take in knowing that yet another of its members was driven by suffering to render more suffering upon herself and others?

Tara Mullen