“Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme,” it begins, “why are they no help to me now”?
The problem, he explains, is, “sometimes everything I write/with the threadbare art of my eye/seems a snapshot/lurid, rapid, garish, grouped.”
Midway, the path out hits him, an epiphany, a knife cutting through the confusing clutter.
“Yet why not say what happened?”
Clarity. Just tell the truth. Why not? It really does set you free. The Jussie Smollett calliope wheezed to life Tuesday when his attorney confirmed the former “Empire” actor will be sentenced March 10 — moving the actor, found guilty by a jury and the court of common sense of staging a racist attack against himself, toward eventually receiving some kind of punishment. A sharp tap on the wrist, no doubt.
But how sharp? I had this fantasy of the judge brandishing two sealed envelopes, saying: “Explain right now exactly what occurred, and I’ll give you sentence A. Keep up the charade, and you get B. Your choice.”
Which made me wonder: Why do convicted criminals sometimes get a break if they admit their crime, even after refusing to do so at trial? Why reward tardy contrition? What’s the logic behind it? The crime is the same, whether you admit it or not.
“So they won’t recommit the same kind of crime. Sentencing is not supposed to be for punishing, but mostly for rehabilitation,” said Howard J. Wise, noted Chicago criminal defense attorney. “If people admit they’re guilty, that’s half the way to rehabilitation. They give them credit for that, and a lighter sentence.”
“The judge must take in several factors,” said Kevin P. Bolger, former Chicago police officer, former Cook County prosecutor, and defense attorney for over 40 years. “One factor is acceptance of responsibility. Contriteness. That goes a long way in the judge’s mind.”
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