Sentencing of Michael Vick: Good Substance, Bad Style

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson sentenced former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to 23 months in a federal penitentiary. For more details on the sentencing, you can read the front page of pretty much any newspaper in the country tomorrow.

I love animals and I hate cruelty to any living thing. So I support the sentence and believe, in my world, that it was a rather light sentence. But this blog post is not about that. This blog post is about how human beings should afford others with respect.

Notwithstanding the pain Vick caused his victims, he was also on the wrong side of justice because he failed to treat those dogs to the respect to which they were entitled.

Today, Michael Vick wrongly received a dose of his own medicine from the sentencing judge. Vick’s attorneys had requested permission from the judge to allow Vick to change into a suit before the sentencing. What possible harm could this cause? Judge Hudson refused and required Vick to show up before the nation in standard striped prison gear. ESPN reported that as Vick walked down the steps from the lockup, “spectators saw the chain-gang outfit and gasped.”

What exactly was the point of this? Sure, the Judge Hudson impressed a lot of people around the country with his toughness and I have a hard time believing he was not considering how his act was going to play around the country in his over-the-top lecturing to Vick. In his book, Judge Hudson praised the manner in which criminals are punished in the Bahamas: “They believed in short periods of intense incarceration with hard labor 16 hours a day, six days a week. They also used caning or whipping for any offense involving violence or injury to the victim. The recidivism rate? Less than five percent. Now that’s effective justice.”

Michael Vick was blessed to be fast and quick. As a result, he will get a second chance one day. And with that chance will come power over others. Judge Hudson set a poor example for Vick today on the proper exercise of power over others.