Ashley Menser, an advanced cancer patient, was sentenced to prison for 10 months after supposedly stealing $109.63 worth of groceries.
According to The New York Times, John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, was extremely aggravated over the consequences that Menser would be facing. Due to his anger and frustration, he was ready to personally drop off a check for $109.63 to the grocery store she robbed so that she would not face consequences. In the article, Fetterman makes it clear that he believes the consequences Menser will face proves that there is something wrong with the criminal justice system.
Menser, 36, suffers from advanced uterine and cervical cancer according to The New York Times. The cancer types Menser has requires surgery to remove her uterus and the tissue around it or else she could face death.
All people who commit crimes deserve some type of punishment, but no matter who stole this amount of groceries, whether they are ill or not, should not have to face 10 months in prison. While I believe 10 months is an excessive punishment for Menser’s crime, she is said to have committed theft before. She must receive some type of consequence that will teach her not to do it again.
With Menser’s crime history, she definitely should be facing at least some time in prison, but not 10 months, especially with the circumstances she faces. According to The New York Times, Menser has 13 prior theft issues. Clearly if she is receiving punishment now for these previous actions, it is not doing anything to prevent her from continuing to steal. “Why does she keep doing it?” is the question that I want to know the answer to.
Menser should not have to face either serving prison time or receiving the proper medical care she needs. It is inhumane for Menser to be faced with either life or death, because she must serve her prison time and cannot get the health services she needs. I strongly believe her health is way more important at this point. If she cannot get the treatment she needs, it is as if the criminal justice system is choosing death for her.
One suggestion is to move the prison time to after she receives her surgery or treatments that she needs. Whether she has her punishment delayed or not, she will still face consequences and hopefully learn from it.
While I do not think it is fair for the criminal justice system to be biased towards anyone, according to The New York Times, Menser had an appointment to meet with her oncologist regarding ways to treat the disease. If this was the case, I do believe her health should come first as a priority especially because this crime is not as severe as others. She did not kill or injure someone, she stole groceries.
As The New York Times reports, Menser’s lawyer mentioned home confinement instead of prison time, but the judge refused to comment on this suggestion.
While Mr. Fetterman feels strongly that something must be changed with the criminal justice system and those who have mental or physical issues and commit crimes, I do not think it is his place to get involved.
When thinking about the best solution for this situation, I think about if one of my family members was in this position and what I would want to happen. While it is extremely heartbreaking to think about it, Menser could be spending some of her last days in prison which is sad and awful to think about.