The Charlotte News

Friday, July 19, 1940



Site Ed. Note: Cash's harsh incidental criticism of indeterminate sentencing laws, now largely abandoned by most states save in the case of murder and related offenses, was apt. The practice led to various forms of discrimination from case to case, county to county, and state to state by sentencing judges based on a myriad of prejudices unrelated to the individual defendant's particular psychological or sociological circumstances or the particular details of the criminal act as he or she stood before the court. Instead, skin color, national origin, possession or not of wealth or power or family ties to same, or perhaps just the look out of the defendant's eyne and momentary demeanor, played too great a role it seemed at times in determining the fate of one year or ten for the same offense on essentially the same facts with essentially the same criminal history or lack thereof backing it up. Most states now have some form of a tri-level "determinate" sentencing scheme for felonies, a lower or mitgated term based on enumerated mitigating factors relating to either the defendant or the crime, an upper term based on enumerated aggravating factors relating to the defendant, the victim, or the crime, and a middle or standard term where no aggravating or mitigating factors exist or where they merely balance out to neutralize the effect. A judge's precious discretion in sentencing individuals is maintained to the extent of balancing these various factors to weigh toward one of these terms or toward compassion and the hope of rehabilitation of the individual by granting probation based on specified conditions, including in most cases some specified term of less than a year in a county jail facility for first-time non-violent felonies. And, all in all, though many earnest persons not trained in the law but who represent emotional feelings of victimization, many times extreme victimization, would try often to re-invent the wheel and so thereby throw out, ad hoc, decades of progress toward better understanding and elimination gradually of the worst forms of human conduct, these more progressive ideas in sentencing do largely work. No form devised by humans has ever represented a quality of perfection in all circumstances and in all applications and times. If so, when was that and where? We would all like to know. For, alas, as long as there is a human species, there will be aberrant behavior by some one or more of its number and we can only address it as it occurs. To do otherwise, to try to predict human foibles, even on past conduct of individuals, is to deny restoration and forgiveness, a central precept after all which works in at least some cases to prevent the next potential victims; to do otherwise, ultimately, is to create a society not dissimilar to that one most dangerous abroad the world in 1940.

And reading "Crisis?", is it any wonder that America stood like ducks in the gallery on December 7, 1941? Was the problem the Administration and its lack of decisive leadership to enter the war full-bore with an as-yet unprepared military structure and inadequate armada? Was it the failure of military leaders through to the last bell to follow explicitly orders of the Commander-in-Chief and implement them verbatim--especially the "three little ships" directive in the later days, as well as the general preparedness orders at Pearl? Was it the dissociation of substantial numbers of the American people from daily events in Europe and Asia such that the "over there…out of mind" syndrome coupled with far too fresh memories of family losses of 1917-18, and to lesser degrees in the three voluntary years prior to that, and the desire to continue to rebuild the economy after the harsh, hungry and devolving years of the depression--was it all of this which prevented daily precious and soul-saving angst to the extent that action was preferred over complaisance? Would it were that more, like Cash, had occasional ranting rage to stomp the face on the floor of the little rat-like man in the daily newspaper headlines and fewer, no doubt, would have lost their lives and, likely, Pandora's Box opened for all August 6, 1945 could have remained shut, perhaps forever. Did we "win" that war or did we merely, for the time, delay an immediate outcome such that the fight could be waged in smaller doses on other battlefields, sometimes in no broader space than one's own liebensraum? Is our collective memory of those lessons long enough to maintain regular stasis or will we have to fight the harder, longer, more deadly fight one day all over again? Ah well, questions…


Convention Swallows Wallace, But Makes a Wry Face

The boys in Chicago came mighty close to regurgitating last night. They showed unmistakably that they didn't relish having Secretary Wallace rammed down their throats, and while tight little political bailiwicks like that of Frank Hague's New Jersey and Kelly-Nash's Illinois teamed up with the grain states to put him across, the convention came pretty close for awhile to expressing its true opinion of the New Deal as represented by the man who killed all the little pigs.

But Mrs. Roosevelt was rushed into the breach. Her earnestness and her emotional appeal to lay aside petty considerations of politics and partisanship in this hour of the country's trial, had its effect.

Mrs. Roosevelt was talking about foreign relations, but the boys were impressed and couldn't help wondering if she was thinking too about convention relations. At any rate, her little speech made them grow more solemn. The revolt hesitated, and that was enough.

But the ingredients of that are still there. Wallace has been no popular Cabinet officer nor has he conducted himself on Capitol Hill so as to count upon the favor of Congress. He, like his running mate, is a misty idealist who elevates doubt and indecision to the status of working principle. Few of the delegates who voted for him last night would ever have been given him a moment's consideration as a candidate for the Presidential nomination.

They took him because they had to, or commence the campaign with an unpretentious slap in the face for their hero. But they showed all too clearly that they didn't want two New Dealers, and they showed that even organized Democrats, hell-bent for re-election, liked to retain some say-so in the management of party affairs.


The Case of Mr. Dale and American Jurisprudence

Interesting is the record of Fred E. Dale, alias Jimmy Dale, alias Saunders, indicted with Mrs. Fred E. Dale, alias Rene Duffy, alias Sonia Kennedy, and Dr. W. E. Wishart on charges of conspiracy to defraud a Sampson County farmer by persuading him that he was the father of a baby by Mrs. Dale, which in fact was not hers.

FBI records show that this man was arrested and sentenced to from one to ten years for automobile larceny in Michigan in 1921. That sentence itself is an astonishing commentary on our mode of justice. Does anybody believe that a crime for which one year's imprisonment is adequate punishment also merit ten years? Or that one which calls for ten year's imprisonment can be adequately atoned for by a term of one year? Idea was, no doubt, that of making the sentence flexible enough to fit the prisoner's future course of conduct. But its actual effect was somewhat different.

By 1924 he was at large again and had taken another vehicle in Indiana. The Hoosier judge thought the crime only merited six months--though he presumably knew the man's former record, ought to have looked it up, anyhow.

Since then Dale has been arrested in Dayton, Ohio, Greenville, Ohio, and Tampa, Florida. He is wanted in Greenville, Ohio, for skipping a $500 bond in a non-support case--an interesting notation which is not explained. He is wanted in Michigan for violating parole. And the Dayton police chief reports that he has a record there as automobile thief, bootlegger, and operator of houses of prostitution.

Obviously a chronic, if more or less petty criminal. But he seems to have spent little of his life in jail. And he seems to have been quite safe in these parts until the new charges directed attention to him.

Medical Note

Concerning the Effect of Jails on Fat Cats

A rule quite as universal as "once on the public payroll, always on the public payroll," or "no matter what the promise, every government always spends more than the last," is that the crooked fat cats always get sick as soon as they get into trouble with the law. They may be all over the place a few weeks before, managing great interests and promoting new games to fleece the suckers with the energy of Titans, but just let a prison door yawn on them and they begin to grab their middle, roll their eyes, and complain that it is murder to send a sick man to jail.

It was so with Insull. It was so with Boss Pendergast of Kansas City. And now it is so with Moe Annenberg, the big Philadelphia publisher and gambling king, who, like many other notorious crooks, could be got only through the income tax laws.

Moe, his doctors solemnly assure the court, has heart, sinus, and rectal trouble, arterio-sclerosis, coughing spells, secondary anemia, and insomnia. And though they didn't say it, no doubt corns, chilbains, lumbago, and quatrain chills.

Maybe the fellow is sick, for that matter. But it does not seem to bother him to the point of curtailing his money-grabbing activities before the hand of the law fell upon him. Maybe he is sicker now. After all, the prospect of going to jail as a common felon is not soothing to anybody's sanity and dignity. And fat cats are apt to be very vain and dignified.

A great many less well-heeled men who get sent to jail are sick, too--sick before they are haled up, sicker afterward, just like Moe. Nobody ever thinks that any reason for letting them stay at home. Modern prisons have quite adequate hospital facilities. And federal prisons have hospital facilities fit even for a sensitive soul like Moe Annenberg.

The judge did right to deny Moe's plea.


We May Have To Make Far East Decision Soon

The Japanese situation is at the moment much more pressing and ticklish for the United States than that in Europe. The new Government in Tokyo takes office to the tune of announcements that it had been formed to take advantage of the "golden opportunity" which now dangles before Japan. That golden opportunity is of course the opportunity of grabbing the French, Dutch and British East Indian possessions while England is occupied in Europe.

It may be that the loudness of these announcements indicates a purpose to feel out the United States before proceeding. If so, then the Democratic and Republican platforms have already landed us into trouble. For the Administration cannot now warn Japan that force may be used without being accused of violating the Democratic platform and flouting the overwhelming sentiment of the people as expressed in both platforms. Such warning is, however, probably the one remaining chance to stop Japan without use of force.

However, it is far from certain that warnings will stop the new Tokyo powers. It is significant that all the ministers are advocates of ruthless action, impatient of negotiation, admirers of Nazism, and enemies to the United States.

Hence, it is entirely possible that within a very few days we shall have finally to make our Far Eastern decision, either to throw platform pledges into the discard and send the navy into action or to get ready to withdraw entirely from the Far East--including the Philippines--as rapidly and as gracefully as possible. It will be a stupendous decision.

The nation does not want war and has been fooled into thinking that it can avoid it merely by saying that it won't have war. And on the other hand, to yield the hegemony of the Far East to Japan is to hand over a quarter of the earth's population to be made into slaves for the production of cheap Japanese goods which, with Nazi slave-goods, will eventually destroy our markets and our political power around the world, and above all in Latin-America, so necessary to our safety. And to create an immeasurably great military and naval power to threaten us directly, in conjunction with the Nazis or without the Nazis.

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