The first person to be sentenced to prison for their role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has gotten decidedly less time than prosecutors asked for and what guidelines recommend, suggesting leniency will be shown to the hundreds of other Capitol rioters facing similar charges from that fateful day.
The sentencing hearing for Paul Hodgkins bore all the familiar hallmarks of white privilege, including delaying the start of his sentence following his guilty plea for obstructing a joint session of Congress, a felony.
U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss sentenced Hodgkins to just eight months in prison, nearly one full year less than what prosecutors were seeking and about seven to 13 months less than sentencing guidelines estimate should be given considering the nature of the crime. Hodgkins’ lawyer asked Moss for no prison time for his client at all.
That means Moss’ sentencing was more aligned with Hodgkins than it was with federal prosecutors.
Not to be outdone, Moss said Hodgkins wouldn’t have to report to prison immediately and instead be “allowed to self-surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons at a later date,” BuzzFeed reported.
Moss suggested he felt some apparent sympathy for Hodgkins and said the defendant offered a “sincere” apology for his part in the insurrection.
“The court here had to consider both what I think are the extremely damaging events that occurred that day but also who Mr. Hodgkins is as an individual,” Moss said during his sentencing. “And as I think is reflected by the sentencing I imposed, I tried to strike that balance.”
More than 500 people have been prosecuted for participating in the insurrection that has also been called domestic terrorism. About half of those cases involve at least one count of the same charge Hodgkins pleaded guilty to.
Hodgkins’ sentencing could compel others facing the same charge to take the same plea deal.
Hodgkins was one of about 50 people who, after joining hundreds of others to illegally break into the Capitol, walked on the Senate floor and prevented Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential election. He was holding a “Trump 2020” flag and carrying “rope, goggles, and other protective gear” while on the senate floor, BuzzFeed News reported.
Hodgkins — who must pay just $2,000 in restitution and will be on probation for two years after being released — was the first person involved in the insurrection to plead guilty to a felony charge and be sentenced to prison for doing so. But he was hardly from the first Capitol rioter to be handled by authorities with kid gloves.
Barely a week after the insurrection, a Texas judge decided that former Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. — who was equipped with plastic zip-tie restraints when he stormed the U.S. Capitol with the alleged intent “to take hostages” — didn’t pose enough of a threat to society to keep him jailed despite his wearing full combat gear during the attempted armed and violent coup. Brock, instead, was released to the confinement of his own home.
This is America.