The Rubashkin Sentencing Debate
Rebecca Gross, J.D. Candidate
Last Friday, September 16, 2011, marked the latest chapter in the Sholom Rubashkin sentencing debate. Sholom Rubashkin is a former executive officer of Agriprocessors, a kosher meat producer in Iowa. In November 2009, he was convicted of eight six counts of bank, wire, and mail fraud as well as making false statements to a bank and money laundering.
During his sentencing hearing in April 2010 before Judge Reade, prosecutors originally asked the judge to impose a life sentence. Following that request, there was a lot of debate over the appropriateness of that sentence length. Numerous Justice Department officials including six former attorney generals and more than a dozen former United States attorneys wrote a letter to Judge Reade criticizing “the government’s extreme sentencing position” and the “potentially severe injustice” that could result. Julia Preston, Life Sentence Is Debated for Meat Plant Ex-Chief, N.Y. Times, Apr. 28, 2010. They wrote, “We cannot fathom how truly sound and sensible sentencing rules could call for a life sentence—or anything close to it—for Mr. Rubashkin, a 51-year-old, first-time, nonviolent offender.” Id. After seeing the response to the life sentence request, the prosecutors instead requested that Rubashkin receive a twenty-five year sentence.