What about the real criminals?

 

Reading Paige Blankenbuehler’s excellent exposé about the plight of the Devils Hole pupfish (“Scene of the Crime,” HCN, 4/15/19), I couldn’t stop thinking about how arbitrary and weighted toward the wealthy the American legal system is. Here you had an admittedly foolish young man who broke into a natural hot springs and accidentally killed a rare fish. For that transgression, the contrite man was sentenced to a year in prison and a $14,000 fine and was permanently banned from federal lands. Wouldn’t some form of restorative justice be in order here? Sentence the young man to 80 hours of service rehabilitating the land, not a year in prison. For generations on the Oregon coast, timber corporations have ravaged tens of thousands of acres of rare coastal rainforest, buried salmon spawning grounds, poisoned the forest, local organic farms and residents with herbicides, and have done it all legally. For these practices, the likes of the Koch Brothers, unlike the young man in Nevada, pay exactly zero in restitution and are instead protected from justice by the complicit state Legislature in Salem. I’d like to think that the crimes committed by big industry against the planet are so great that they are simply beyond human conception and the law, but money’s symbiotic relationship with the government is a more obvious explanation.

Michael Edwards
Lincoln City, Oregon

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