Barry Bonds Isn't Going to Prison. Is He Being Punished Enough?

By Wood, Daniel B | The Christian Science Monitor, December 16, 2011 | Go to article overview

Barry Bonds Isn't Going to Prison. Is He Being Punished Enough?


Wood, Daniel B, The Christian Science Monitor


Barry Bonds, seen by many fans as having irreparably harmed baseball, is sentenced to home detention, community service, probation, and a fine. Experts call the punishment appropriate for the crime.

Major League Baseball's home run king will not be going to prison.

Instead, former San Francisco Giant's star Barry Bonds, 47, was sentenced Friday to 30 days of home confinement, two years probation, 250 hours of community service, and a $4,000 fine. And all of that was suspended pending appeal, which may take up to a year.

While many disappointed fans may see the sentence as insufficient punishment for the man they feel irreparably tarnished the image of America's pastime, most legal experts say the sentence was correct and proportional. They remind fans that Mr. Bonds was not being judged for his years of alleged steroid use, but for the single charge of obstructing justice, a far lesser charge than perjury, over which the jury was deadlocked.

"The sentence seems reasonable under the circumstances to me," says Kevin Johnson, dean of the UC Davis Law School. He notes that the sentence was what the probation office recommended despite federal sentencing guidelines that recommend 15 to 21 months in prison.

"The sentence was soft but fair," adds Mark Conrad, associate professor of law and ethics at the Schools of Business, Fordham University. "He was only convicted on one of four charges, and not the most serious perjury charges. He was convicted of misleading a grand jury - it did not justify a 15-month jail term that the prosecutors wanted."

Bonds, who holds what is perhaps baseball's most coveted record - 762 home runs - was convicted last April on one count of obstruction of justice for being evasive before a federal grand jury eight years ago that was investigating the use of drugs in sports.

He also had been charged with several counts of perjury for allegedly lying during the grand jury's investigation of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) in Burlingame, Calif., which sold banned substances to athletes.

Bonds's sentence could be a harbinger of what is to come for other athletes charged in connection with drug use, say other observers. …

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