PAWHUSKA — An Oklahoma man has been sentenced to prison for stealing seven cows from a ranch.

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association says 27-year-old G.M.G. of XXX, Oklahoma pleaded guilty to larceny of livestock and was sentenced Wednesday.

Special Ranger Bart Perrier says Gibson stole the cattle from the Bledsoe Ranch near Ralston. The cows were sold at three different state livestock markets and couldn’t be recovered.

Gibson was ordered to serve two years in prison and will be on probation for eight years. He was also ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to the victim.

That seems pretty harsh to me.  Two years in prison for stealing cows?  Two years wearing prison grey and living with criminals for stealing cows?  Seven cows? Eating prison food (Picture the food youhad in elementary school except it smells like old sweat socks) for 730 days because you temporarily deprived a man of the company of seven of his cows?  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think that the should walk away scott free.  There have to be consequences for acting out, but locked in a cell for two years? 

I’m glad he has to pay back the loss to the victim.  I think he should have to pay a fine and court costs.   He should be required to do some community service, based on his abilities, to serve the community.  He should have to pick up trash on the highway.  He should have to paint the victim’s barn or mow his lawn for two years.  He should have to report to a probation officer for two years.  Pay probation fees for two years.  Maybe wear a GPS bracelet until we believe that he’s not stealing any more.

What do you think?  Is two years in prison too long?  For seven cows stolen? Even when he has to pay the victim for the loss?  Comment and let me know…

Now, what if I told you that he had a prior conviction.  But NOT for stealing cows.  For drunk driving.  Does that change your mind about how you were going to sentence him?  He’s been driving with too much alcohol in hi s blood, but he’s not repeating his Cattle Rustling.  Now how would you sentence him?

Now…….. What if I told you he not only had a prior DUI, but he also had been caught shoplifting about 6 years ago.  Change your mind?  Now THAT is stealing!  He’s stolen stuff before.  Are we going to be harder on him or easier on him with this cattle theft?

OK.  OK.  How about adding ANOTHER DUI? Back a few years ago.  AND a “Driving While Impaired” a lesser drunk driving charge.  Seems like he might have an alcohol problem.  His judgement might be clouded by alcohol.  Should we give him a break?  Should we “teach him a lesson”?  What are we going to do with this guy?  Should we send him to mandatory inpatient alcohol treatment against his will?

I’ve done this exercise in schools with 6th graders and high school students.  Damn!  They’re tough on crime!  Until they start to hear some humanity.  What the law calls ‘mitigating factors”.  What if the guy has three school age children who will go into State custody if he goes into jail?  What if he’s 42 years old and never been in trouble his whole life except for the last eight years, after his mama died?  What if he’s 22 years old and has his whole life ahead of him?  What if he’s 88?

I want you to know that there is no right answer.  I’ve had prosecutors who do everything in their power to keep defendants out of jail or prison.  I’ve known prosecutors who want to send everybody up to the penitentiary.  Each case is decided on its own merits.  There are always at least three people involved in the decision: a prosecutor, a defense attorney and the judge.  That way all the factors are considered, the good and the bad.

I’ve had clients complain that they know guys who’ve done a lot worse than them and yet, they weren’t punished as severely.  My experience tells me that their story is really different than their friend’s. 

There are personality differences in judges and prosecutors.  I’ve had judges turn down an agreement that I have worked out with the District Attorney because it wasn’t tough enough.  (BTW, I’ve never had one turned down because it was “too harsh”.)  Sentencing is a difficult decision.  What is our goal: payback or creating better citizens?  Punishment or rehabilitation?  That is what the judge and the prosecutor must decide.

That’s one reason that a good attorney is so important.  You need someone who has handled lots and lots of these things before and knows how to “work the system” to your advantage as often as he can.  If we’ve raised any questions or can be of service in any way, give us a call! Robert B. Carter, Attorney at Law.  (405) 236-1800.