Why are the Proud Boys getting longer sentences than murderers?
09/08/2023 // News Editors // Views

On Tuesday, a federal judge sentenced former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio to 22 years in prison for his part in organizing the riot on January 6, 2021, in the Capitol building.

(Article by Rick Moran republished from PJMedia.com)

Tarrio was nowhere near Washington that day. He was in Baltimore after being arrested on separate charges. However, Tarrio tweeted out support for the riot and claimed credit for it after the fact.

The common sentence for first-degree murder is 20 years. Why did Tarrio get 22 years when he wasn’t even at the physical location of the riot? Other Proud Boys and Oath Keepers also received long sentences.

Most January 6 defendants received far lighter sentences of a few months to a few years. That’s because they accepted lighter sentences in exchange for their guilty plea. The Proud Boys chose to go to trial. The choice to be tried by a jury of your peers is frowned upon by prosecutors. It’s a lot of work to prepare for a trial and the outcome is a lot less certain. So prosecutors dangle light sentences in front of defendants to discourage them from going to trial.

It’s called the “trial penalty,” and it’s manifestly and grossly unfair.

“[Prosecutors] got a really long sentence by asking for something really absurd,” said C.J. Ciaramella on yesterday’s “Reason Roundtable.” “In cases where January 6 defendants did plead guilty, expressed remorse, the judges were much more likely to go easy on them.” In Tarrio’s case, the prosecutors’ “really absurd” request was asking for 33 years

Prosecutors might argue that taking a plea is necessary because the U.S. justice system is hopelessly jammed up, and some incentive has to be offered to keep caseloads manageable. That incentive is offering those who take a plea deal far less jail time than they would receive if they had gone to trial.

The problem with this system is that it gives us a cockeyed view of “justice.” In fact, it disconnects the idea of “justice” from the criminal court system. In Tarrio’s case, the prosecutors asked for 33 years. Does that mean that justice wasn’t served because Tarrio “only” got 22 years?


This practice has been harshly criticized by liberal and libertarian groups for effectively punishing people just for exercising their constitutional right to a trial by jury.

The American Bar Association found that average sentences for federal felony convictions are seven years longer for defendants who went to trial. Prosecutors’ preference for plea bargains also sees them layer on as many charges or stretch the applicability of vague statutes to coerce defendants into forfeiting their right to a trial.

The end result is that those convicted at trial go to prison for longer than even prosecutors think is necessary.

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates that those who attempted to undermine the workings of American democracy will be held criminally accountable,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray yesterday. If that’s true, why did some rioters get a year or two? If they also undermined “American democracy,” shouldn’t their punishment be equally severe — or almost as severe — as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers received?

Tarrio and others receiving sentences of over a decade for their role in January 6 are hardly sympathetic figures. Yet the amount of time they’ll spend in prison is nevertheless a product of a trial penalty that is widely considered to be unjust. If one opposes these enhanced penalties in the routine administration of criminal justice, we should oppose them in the case of the January 6 defendants as well.

The Proud Boys didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of overturning the election result or overthrowing the government — if that really was their intent. Shouldn’t some allowance have been made for the rank stupidity of their efforts, the extreme unlikelihood that their plans would succeed?

Those considerations clearly pale in comparison to making the prosecutor in these cases work extra hard because the defendants refused a plea deal.

Read more at: PJMedia.com

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