Second, Judge Moss tailored his sentence to the individual before the court, exactly as judges are supposed to do. Hodgkins had four things going in his favor — actions and history that may not apply to the next insurrectionists sentenced:
- He pleaded guilty, an act that reflects someone taking responsibility for his crime. Judges appreciate such pleas for this reason and also because they help clear court dockets. Shorter sentences are typical for a guilty plea.
- Hodgkins expressed remorse, saying, “I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington, DC, on January 6. … I say this because of the damage that day’s incident caused and the way this country that I love has been hurt.”
- The fact that Judge Moss took a recess after Hodgkins spoke and before delivering his sentence suggests to this former prosecutor that the judge had initially come out ready to impose more time in jail. He may have reconsidered in light of Moss’ apparent sincerity.
- Hodkins engaged in no violence to others and destroyed no public property.
- He had no criminal record.
In light of those mitigating factors, eight months is a serious sentence. Others awaiting trial for the insurrection may think hard about the benefits of pleading guilty.
If you still think eight months is a short time for someone to spend without liberty, take some time to recount what you’ve done since before Christmas last year. If you’ve always been able to go wherever you wanted, or don’t like being told what to do, it’s no fun spending even a day in jail. I even hated hearing the door clink behind me as a prosecutor when I visited cooperating witnesses locked up after their arrests for their involvement in a conspiracy.
Fear of jail time is something that ought to concern most people who might consider participating in some future attack on a government site — even if hardcore militants are incorrigible. In terms of preventing another insurrection, reducing the number of those backing up violent leaders of disorder is key.
This first sentence to jail time should remind those who love our Republic to appreciate Justice Department leaders and prosecutors who are aggressively holding the rioters to account. Former DOJ members like myself know: Getting a defendant sentenced within six months of a notorious crime is warp speed.
Opinion: The first Capitol riot felony sentence was exactly the right call