He Who Needs No Linkage had two stories posted the other day, back to back, that caught my eye. In the first, a (now former) TSA agent was convicted of stealing five laptop computers and a Sony PlayStation from travelers’ bags. He was given three years probation.
In both these cases, the accused was not only a government employee, not only exploiting their power as a government employee, but using their authority to enforce the law to steal from citizens and enrich themselves.
There’s a legal term for this kind of crime — “under color of law” — and is’s woefully underused. There ought to be enhanced penalties for government agents who break the laws they are supposed to be enforcing. Mandatory jail sentences. Restitution plus. Forfeiture of not only all benefits accrued, but of future government benefits.
Our government needs the citizens’ trust in order to function. Acts like these two above erode that faith. For that kind of damage, for violation of that level of trust, the penalties must be commensurate.