Donald Trump’s prison sentence

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A couple of days before convicted felon Donald Trump was found guilty, I enumerated the five possible outcomes of the jury deliberations here in Palmer Report and wrote, “The overwhelming likelihood, in my view, is number one, the jury will find the defendant guilty on all counts.”

That was no masterful bit of prognostication. I merely looked at the circumstances, the evidence, reaffirmed my faith in the jury system and reached what I believed to be a logical and obvious conclusion.

I gave you my reasons, piece by piece. I built a case based, not on what I hoped to be true, but on what the circumstances told me had to be true. An honest jury had no other choice, and the only real wildcard in the deck was the question of whether or not the jury was wholly an honest one. Since most juries are honest, I placed all my chips on the number 34 and waited for the wheel to spin.

In the same vein I believe I know what Trump’s sentence will probably be, to be handed down on 11 July. Again, I don’t make my prediction based on what I want but what I think is inevitable. It just happens to be that, as with the verdict, what I want and what I predict are one and the same.

I believe that Donald Trump will be sentenced not to jail but to prison. What’s the difference? Though the terms are often used interchangeably, even by lawyers, there is a technical difference. Defendants who are sentenced to jail are usually (though not always) sentenced to a short-term stay facility for 364 days or less. Defendants who are sentenced to prison are usually sentenced to a long-term stay penitentiary for 365 days or more.

So, permit me to consider Trump’s possible sentence, again from most likely to least likely. This time I am not as sure as I was with the verdict, but I think I have a pretty good idea.

The possibilities are, One: Trump will be sentenced to prison. I believe that sentence will be somewhere between eighteen months and three years in a penitentiary, most likely Rikers Island. He will probably serve anywhere from six to 18 months then be released from custody for that particular tranche of felony counts. He will be sentenced to that identical term 34 times for each count. Since each count is the same, those sentences will run concurrently.

Two: Trump will be sentenced to jail, that is, for a term of less than one year. Again, the sentence will be 34 times to run concurrently.

Three: Trump will be sentenced to home confinement. Four: Trump will be sentenced to a term in jail or prison, but the sentence will be suspended. Five: Trump will receive no jail time, but will receive instead a specific number of hours of community service. Six: Trump will be given a term of probation with the understanding that he can go to jail or prison for any violation of those probationary terms, up to the full term of the probation. Seven: Trump will be given a dollar amount fine. Eight: Trump will receive no sentence at all, but will be given a stern warning about the seriousness of his offences and a proverbial “slap on the wrist.”

The first six sentences could also be accompanied by a fine, the first four could also include community service. Like I say, I think it’s going to be number one, a life-changing term in prison. A stiff fine and/or post-release probation is also possible, even likely.

Why do I think Trump will receive the maximum penalty? There are several reasons. First, because convicted felon Donald Trump has shown absolutely no remorse for his crimes. Indeed, he has demonstrated nothing but public contempt for those crimes, repeatedly saying on social media and in public that he “did nothing wrong.”

Moreover Trump has repeatedly belittled, defamed and threatened the judge, the judge’s daughter, the witnesses against him, the jurors, the prosecutors and other officers of the court. I don’t know what he told his probation officer yesterday, but I would be shocked to find that contrition was anywhere on the program.

Additionally, Trump’s crime had a vast, far-reaching impact on the American people. It’s academic whether or not his successfully hiding his liaison with Stormy Daniels had any real world effect on the outcome of the election, but the possibility that it could have meant that his crimes were potentially sweeping in their impact. The judge must consider the whole of the American people when contemplating victim impact.

The judge must also consider Trump’s generic lawless behaviour. I don’t believe he can openly allude to his three other felony indictments, the January 6th insurrection, the deadly impact of his cavalier attitude toward the Covid pandemic, but those thoughts must be somewhere in his mind. He is, after all, a human being.

The judge will also think about the people Trump directed who have already been indicted, done prison time, or are about to. Trump is no ordinary criminal, but a man who has corrupted numerous other human beings. In his path he has left behind an unprecedented amount of human misery and ruin.

Of course I am familiar with the usual complaints about a Trump prison sentence. How will his Secret Service detail cope? How can a former president integrate into a prison population? Won’t he necessarily have to remain in solitary confinement? What precedent is being set here? And so on.

To that I call on the long, brutal history of jurisprudence. You’re a mother who has no means to care for her children if you’re incarcerated? Tough shit, you’re going to prison. You’re an addict who cannot help himself? Tough shit, you’re going to prison.
A lengthy confinement will kill your elderly parents? Tough shit, you’re going to prison. You’re the President’s son? You get the idea.

The problems Trump must face are the ordinary kind. He’ll survive. In fact, by dint of his position and popularity among lunatics, Trump’s stay in prison will be far easier than it is for most people. Most people are thrown in prison and forgotten, consigned to the crushing loneliness of anonymity. Trump won’t be forgotten. He will be martyred and endlessly advocated for on the outside. He will receive tens of thousands of letters from fools, full of misguided empathy.

Anyway, that’s what I think the sentence will be. I could be wrong, of course. But if I am, then I think justice will have failed. And justice has failed before. But usually it doesn’t. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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