Does the punishment really fit the crime?

Former Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Michael Vick just finished a sentence that saw him serve 18 months in jail—and several more under home confinement—for dogfighting charges.
This exceeded both the prosecutor’s recommendation of 12-18 months and the sentences received by his co-defendants Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips, who were charged with the exact same crime.
He was a professional athlete and considering PETA and the national outcry, a harsher than standard sentence was to be expected.
It was a heinous crime—I’m not justifying that—but he did the time for it, and now has justly been reinstated by the NFL.
Despite that, none of the 30 NFL teams have extended a contract offer to the former three-time Pro Bowl quarterback as of press time.
The league isn’t coined the National Felony League for no reason, with all kinds of lawbreakers on its rosters who have received second, third, and fourth chances. Give Vick his.
Further to that, why isn’t Cleveland Browns’ receiver Donte’ Stallworth under that same microscope?
Stallworth ran over 59-year-old Mario Reyes last March in Miami, killing the man while driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.126 percent and marijuana in his system. He was recently released from jail after serving 24 days for a DUI conviction causing death. Yes, 24 days.
He met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week and may also be reinstated to return to action this season without missing a regular-season game.
Stallworth apologized for his actions and vowed to conduct himself “in a manner that more accurately reflects who I am and meets the high standard expected of all NFL players.
“I recognize that there is a difference between the legal standard in my criminal case and the standard to which NFL players are held,” Stallworth said in a release. “It is clear that I exercised poor judgment and caused irreparable harm to Mario Reyes, his family, the NFL, its owners, coaches, employees and to my fellow players.”
There’s been plenty of public backlash in columns and blogs comparing these two cases—with most exonerating Vick and disparaging Stallworth.
And certainly that would seem justified. One got 18 months for running a dogfighting ring, while one killed a father and spent less than a month behind bars.
So why is there such a drastic discrepancy between these two cases?
A look deeper into the two reveals some reasons.
Stallworth owned up to his crime, even reportedly calling police after the incident. He also reached a confidential financial settlement with Reyes’ family that likely helped lead to a softer sentence.
The actual financial dollar amount going to the family is unknown, but it’s surely easier to keep up on payments if Stallworth continues to collect an NFL paycheck.
Further, other reports suggest Reyes wasn’t likely in a clearly-marked crosswalk and may have darted out erratically when Stallworth’s Bentley ran him over. It’s possible a sober driver would’ve had just as much trouble avoiding him.
In addition to his time in jail, his sentence includes two years of house arrest, probation and other restrictions.
Vick, on the other hand, tried to cover up his crime and denied any wrongdoing—including lying to commissioner Goodell.
Vick was also operating a dog-fighting operation across state lines, which violates a federal law and is punishable as a felony.
According to the justice system, the fact dogs were killed was just a gory footnote.

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