Crime . . . And “Punishment”

Anders Breivik killed 77 people, many of them kids, in carefully planned attacks on government buildings and a youth camp in Norway.  Today he was determined to be sane, was found guilty of the mass murder — deemed “terrorist acts” under Norwegian law — and received the maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.

A man who kills 77 people is found to be legally sane?  Sentenced to a mere 21 years in prison, as the maximum available penalty for the cold-blooded killing of dozens of people?  And, according to the news article linked above, the “guilty verdict comes as welcome relief to victims and their families, who have been looking for closure 13 months after the tragic event”?

It is unimaginable that a disturbed mass murderer like Breivik, who is only 33 years old, could be walking the streets, a free man, in only two decades.  What better indication could there be of the differences between the United States and Norway — their people, their criminal justice systems, and their concepts of just punishment — than this absurdly lenient sentence?

Many Americans applaud the European social model and decry the harshness of punishments meted out by American courts.  Does anyone, however, seriously defend this grossly inadequate penalty and the notion that 21 years in prison is sufficient punishment for an unrepentant fanatic who gunned down 77 innocent people and now plans to write books about his attacks and his crazed political views?

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