Plaxico Burress starts two year sentence — Did he get hosed by the ‘the man”?

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Photo from Wikimedia

Photo from Wikimedia

Former New York Giants Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress left for prison yesterday to begin serving a two-year sentence on a weapons charge. Burress apologized to his family and tearfully kissed his pregnant wife and young son goodbye Tuesday before he was led away.

With time off for good behavior, Burress likely will serve 20 months. He could be released from prison as early as the spring of 2011 and will be monitored an additional two years after he is freed.

Burress arrived in the courtroom Tuesday wearing jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt, holding his two-year-old son, Elijah. He was accompanied by his pregnant wife, Tiffany, his father, grandmother and stepmother. Burress told the judge before sentencing: “I want to apologize to my family.” They did not speak to reporters afterward.

The sentence was a result of an incident at the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan last November when his .40-caliber gun tucked into his waistband slipped down his leg and fired, wounding him in the thigh. The accidental shooting enraged New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the time, who publicly denounced Burress for carrying a weapon. That anger seemed to trickle down to the District Attorney’s office, who not only leaked a lot of the plea process to the press, but seemed very unwilling to plea the whole thing down to a reasonable level.

Now don’t get me wrong; I think the whole ‘entitlement’ thing relating to professional athletes is pure nonsense. However, in this case, the punishment just doesn’t suit the crime; no matter what the prevailing law strictly says.

This could have been pleaded down to something that would still have involved prison, but two years borders on the sublime. If he was a first time offender in just about any situation, the D.A. would have let that happen. But clearly the folks in jurisdictional power wanted to make an example of Burress.

His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, questioned the fairness of the recommended prison sentence. “This was not an intentional criminal act,” Brafman was quoted as saying. I know it’s his job to say that, but in this case I wholeheartedly agree.

Burress will be eligible to continue his career when he gets out and he’ll only be 33 years old; that is if a team still wants him. Even the NFL already has announced his suspension will be lifted upon completion of his sentence.

And by the way, Burress had hired a consultant to teach him how to use his time in prison productively.


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