Ex-Freedom president’s sentence not harsh enough

A Daily Mail editorial from the Charleston Gazette-Mail 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For many of the 300,000 West Virginians affected by the 2014 chemical spill that contaminated their water supply, the 30 days in jail and the $20,000 fine levied upon former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern isn’t quite enough.

As the Gazette-Mail’s Ken Ward Jr. reported Thursday, the three charges Southern admitted to in a plea deal are misdemeanors, and U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston said Southern might have avoided jail time if he wasn’t convinced the former Freedom boss lied in bankruptcy court about his role with the company.

“Like the others, this defendant is hardly a criminal,” Johnston said, referencing the five other Freedom officials sentenced for their roles in the spill.

The judge is both right and wrong in how he handled Southern’s sentencing. Incarceration should be meant for society’s worst offenders — think murderers, rapists, drug kingpins and the like.

Southern and other Freedom officials certainly don’t fall into that category. But their negligence affected hundreds of thousands of West Virginians…

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