Black Mass Question #13 - Protecting a Wanted Man

by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill

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Black Mass Question #13 - Protecting a Wanted Man

Unread postby Liz » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:40 pm

Do you think Catherine Greig’s 8-year sentence was reasonable?
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Re: Black Mass Question #13 - Protecting a Wanted Man

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Oct 13, 2014 4:19 pm

I frequently don't understand sentencing in this country. It seems sometimes that violent repeat offenders receive a much lesser sentence than someone who is involved in a non-violent property crime. The state of Nebraska is involved in some great debates right now over the automatic "good time" early releases which are handed out regardless of criminal behavior in prison, the lack of proper mental health care for prisoners, and the question of alternatives to prison itself. I don't feel qualified to answer how long Ms Greig should have been incarcerated. I simply don't know. :-?

Whitey's brother Jackie was convicted of perjury regarding contact with Whitey when he was a fugitive. And the biography suggested that a sister (Doris, I believe) had helped move money around while Whitey was in hiding. Through much of my research I have repeatedly seen suggestions that Billy knew and did more to help Whitey than he has ever admitted to or been formally charged with. None of that changes what Catherine did, but she was not some sort of lone accomplice, and at her age 8 years is a long time to be in prison.

And then I wonder to myself, what do we really and truly know of her life in California with Whitey? Surely no one could ever feel completely safe around him.

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Re: Black Mass Question #13 - Protecting a Wanted Man

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:26 pm

Probably sentencing decisions have always been influenced by politics and opinion. After all there were people put to death for blasphemy in Europe during the 17th century. So I don't think that sentences can ever be objectively measured. They are a function of the times, of attitudes and opinions about what justice is, and above all, what is required by the politics of necessity.

Local opinion demanded that Whitey be treated as harshly as possible. There are some who would likely have preferred the death penalty. That wasn't going to happen so Ms. Grieg became part of the package of justice offered up to the community.

Did she deserve to be punished at all? Say a year? I don't know. She made choices, stuck with her decisions, and probably was acutely aware of what she'd be facing if she was caught with Whitey. Maybe the time with him was worth the loss of freedom for her. Maybe she isn't a particularly reflective person and simply went with her gut. To every action there is a reaction. In terms of general public opinion she chose badly and her conduct deserved to be held up as wrong. This is her journey -- we all have one.
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Re: Black Mass Question #13 - Protecting a Wanted Man

Unread postby Liz » Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:53 pm

nebraska wrote:And then I wonder to myself, what do we really and truly know of her life in California with Whitey? Surely no one could ever feel completely safe around him.

This is something that I had not thought of. Maybe he threatened her. Maybe she was afraid she'd end up like Debra Davis or Deborah Hussey. Was she discriminated against because she was a woman? Or was she just used as an example?
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Re: Black Mass Question #13 - Protecting a Wanted Man

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:09 am

Sentencing is such an imprecise art. And I don’t feel like I know enough to say what is or is not just in this case. I do think I would feel more strongly if Whitey had still been committing crimes while she was harboring him. She was harboring a fugitive, as opposed to aiding an active criminal, if that makes any sense. So it doesn’t feel as bad. I do agree that her sentence was probably influenced by public opinion. And I also hadn’t considered that she might have been pressured or threatened by Whitey, until I read Nebraska’s post. It’s certainly a possibility, although if she was, it should have come up in court, no?

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Re: Black Mass Question #13 - Protecting a Wanted Man

Unread postby shadowydog » Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:24 pm

There are a number of comments in here about disparities in sentencing. The government tried to fix that problem with minimum sentencing guidelines which all federal judges had to follow. This led to people being thrown in jail for life for a minor offense due to the three strikes law and youngsters sentenced to long terms that destroyed their lives. These laws were too harsh and no wiggle room was made for judges. The drug laws were way too strict.

Also, when mental hospitals were shut down and patients released to supposedly be treated in clinics that were never built or staffed. This left them untreated on the streets and eventually in prison where they don't get treatment either.
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