Brian McNaughton, the former Colorado State University professor who was charged with a felony for fabricating a job offer to secure a pay raise, reached a plea deal this week that will allow his case to be dismissed in a year if he remains law abiding and completes 100 hours of community service.
Under the agreement, McNaughton pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant, a crime punishable by up to six years in prison. He was granted a deferred sentence, however, making him eligible to withdraw his guilty plea in a year if he complies with the terms of the deal. In addition to community service, McNaughton must complete a “cognitive thinking class.”
McNaughton declined to comment on the plea deal.(Read the whole thing here.)
I don't really think that Brian McNaughton deserves prison time, in the sense that the injured party with standing (the taxpayers of Colorado, presumably) probably should reserve prison for those who are most in need of being kept apart from society. But if Brian McNaughton had been a cashier at a grocery store and stolen $5000 from the till, would he have gone to prison? Probably, I dunno.
I can't help but notice something that happens when professors are charged with crimes: the system-as-a-whole (prosecutors, defense attorneys, employers, judges) delivers a result that consistently avoids prison. I have plenty of biases and thoughts about the criminal justice system in America, but the overriding one is this: if we have one set of punishments for those who have money and status, but another for those who do not, we don't have a system that is delivering justice.