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Payback doesn't clear the books



Published: Thu, September 6, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



If American Red Cross employees in New Castle hadn't discovered $4,220.44 of improper charges on the agency's credit cards and other financial irregularities, does anyone believe that Angenette Wallace would have voluntarily walked into court with a thick wad of $20 bills to repay her former employer? So why should paying the money back result in a clean bill of legal health for Wallace? If a crime has been committed, the perpetrator of that crime owes a debt to society as well as to those she wronged. The Lawrence County district attorney's office went too far in dismissing the charges against her.

Crime is not supposed to pay, and criminals are supposed to be punished. What message is sent to potential wrongdoers if the worse that can happen if you're caught is having to pay back what you took?

Little risk: As it is, many lawbreakers count on the fact that they won't be apprehended, deciding that the risk is easily outweighed by the expected ill-gotten reward. Should the word now be out in Lawrence County that even if you're caught, you're likely to get out of jail free? Even a suspended sentence -- many of which we've had problems with -- is better than no sentence at all.

We trust that this is a not-to-be-repeated, unique situation motivated by an unusual set of circumstances, and that even now the prosecutor is having serious second thoughts about this ill-conceived deal.

The Pledge of Allegiance demands that this be a nation with liberty and justice for all. That means justice for the people as well as for criminals.




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