Anyone wondering why people are cynical about our justice system need look no further than the case of former Minnesota Appeals Court Judge Roland Amundson.
Last summer Amundson was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail for swindling more than $300,000 from a mentally disabled woman. This was a particularly heinous crime because of the helplessness of the victim and the fact that he committed the crime while serving on one of the state's highest courts. Prosecutors said he used the money to purchase bronze statues and marble flooring for his home.
State corrections officials said this week the former judge was eligible for participation in a military style boot camp and may consequently serve only 1 1/2 years behind bars.
The boot camp regimen features physical labor as well as skill-building in such areas as literacy, job hunting, money management and self-esteem. The program hardly seems tailor-made for a 53-year-old ex-jurist who stole a vulnerable adult's money.
Amundson's prosecutors strenuously objected to the prisoner's potential selection for the boot camp, noting the judge in the theft by swindle case issued a harsher sentence than was called for by sentencing guidelines. The net time behind bars, if he is released early, would now be less than if Amundson had received a normal guidelines sentence.
This bureaucratic ruling reinforces the feeling of many that white collar criminals, particularly people who have been part of the power structure, receive breaks that other people don't receive.
Considering the drastic reduction in prison time that may result from his participation in boot camp, Amundson's situation brings new meaning to the phrase "happy camper."
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