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Finding punishment to fit crime

Published: Friday, July 13, 2012 11:26 p.m. CDT

One time in grade school, several of my classmates and I got detention for a snowball fight at recess.

Back then, Franklin Elementary School detention consisted of having to sit in a classroom during lunch period and the recess that followed.

I’ll never forget one of my comrades commenting when the supervisor left the room during our detention, “You know this isn’t so bad. We get to eat at our desks instead of crammed in those tables in the lunchroom, and I don’t have anyone spitting in my food when they are trying to talk.”

I don’t remember for sure, but I am guessing he made a few more trips to detention.

The point is, punishments don’t always fit the person and the crime.

My thoughts on punishment have been brewing since the Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal was exposed last fall.

He already has been convicted and will spend the rest of his days behind bars.

An independent investigation released Thursday reported that high-ranking Penn State officials, including school idol Joe Paterno, worked to cover up Sandusky’s behavior for up to 14 years.

The part I found most troubling was this quote from lead investigator and former FBI Director Louis Freeh: “[They] never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”

These supposed leaders, including Paterno, put the reputation of a university and a football program ahead of these children.

The officials still alive will each have their day in court on perjury charges and whatever other charges the state and federal governments can throw at them.

The NCAA is also investigating and will levy some sort of punishment on Penn State football. Early reports have said that they will not evoke the death penalty, in which a school loses a program for a certain number of years.

My first thought: what a shame. I don’t care if Penn State ever takes the football field again. And why have a death penalty in your bylaws if you’re not going to use it? Honestly, what is going to be worse than this?

My second thought: Maybe there is a better punishment. Don’t think for a second that money didn’t drive the officials’ decisions. Penn State football is a gold mine, and Paterno deserves almost all the credit for that.

My proposal for punishment for Penn State is that the revenue from every football game, every TV deal and every bowl game involving Penn State for the next 14 years be distributed among the victims of Jerry Sandusky and to nonprofit (and reputable) child-welfare agencies.

A small stipend may be set aside for updating team equipment and employing medical staff for practices and games.

Not another dime goes to Penn State or the football program for as long as it can be shown that it protected a pedophile.

Even after all that time, the money won’t be enough for the kids tortured by Sandusky, and those kids that could have been saved from such torture if not for the enablers at Penn State. But, it’s something.

As for Paterno, there’s really only so much you can do to a dead guy, and his worshipers will never denounce their faith.

For those in State College, let them have their false deity with his statue in front of Beaver Stadium.

The thing I’d like to see done is in the NCAA record book. Let his career record not read 409-136-3, but 0-553 because, with his decision to protect Sandusky (his friend, his co-worker, and his business partner), he lost everything else he accomplished and stood for in those 45 years.

After that, I’ll forget Joe Paterno just as easily as he forgot about those young boys.

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