Jan. 23. 2004
Janklow Sentence an Injustice
Statement of Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen
The fact that Bill Janklow, a former state attorney general, governor and most recently congressman from South Dakota, received just 100 days in jail for killing a motorcyclist last year as he sped through a stop sign, is an insult to the jury that convicted him of manslaughter. Janklow could have been sentenced to 10 years.
Janklow flouted the speed limit for years, practically bragging about his lead foot. He knew well that speeding – particularly traveling at speeds of 90 mph and greater – is dangerous, yet he continued to do it. In a particularly hypocritical stance, Janklow used to advocate stiff sentences for breaking the law, including the laws of the road. It is an injustice that he is getting off so lightly.
The hundred days in jail, of course, really aren’t 100 days. Janklow will serve only 30 days, after which he will be released during the day to do community service. Drug users are put behind bars for years, yet when a prominent politician’s ongoing reckless behavior kills a man, he is sentenced by a judge to what amounts to just a month behind bars. That is not justice or punishment.
It is even more galling that the judge ordered Janklow’s felony record to be expunged. How insulting and hurtful to the family of the man who was killed. While the court may try to pretend the death never occurred, the man’s family will never forget.