Prison, Bitches

One year doesn’t seem like nearly enough time but it’s,

… the maximum allowed by law …

and is also,

… the first time such a high-ranking executive had been convicted of a workplace safety violation.

The conviction of Don Blankenship is actually quite a coup for workers:

But after the explosion at Upper Big Branch on April 5, 2010, the authorities turned to a novel approach to prosecute Mr. Blankenship, who possessed deep knowledge of his mines, recorded many telephone conversations with subordinates and received production reports every 30 minutes.

Throughout a lengthy, complex trial, government officials portrayed Mr. Blankenship as, in effect, the kingpin of a criminal enterprise, and one with a stubborn focus on Massey’s financial standing. His demands, prosecutors argued, contributed to an unspoken conspiracy that employees were to ignore safety standards and practices if they threatened profits.

“He knew that following the safety laws costs money,” Steven R. Ruby, an assistant United States attorney, said at Wednesday’s hearing. “What could be more serious than a crime that risks human life?”

Mr. Ruby, who urged Judge Berger to order a one-year sentence, argued that a lighter penalty “would signal that committing mine safety crimes might be a good gamble for a C.E.O.”

Indeed, that is how business tends to get done in America, and sending a CEO to prison for a year signals that those heady days of paying a fine as “the cost of doing business” are over.

BTW, back in 2011, it was reported that Blankenship had resurfaced as president of McCoy Coal Group. I would hope Don Blankenship would be seen as a liability to any energy company.

8 Comments

Filed under clean coal, corporations, energy production

8 responses to “Prison, Bitches

  1. Joseph Stans

    Well, on the upside, soon the state book will be the bible so everyone will have the same reference and moral guidance. Uh, right?

  2. Jim in Memphis

    I definitely think CEOs and any other company officers that were involved in making decisions that led to the injury or death of an employee should be criminally liable for their actions (or lack of action).

    • Yes of course. But the problem is prosecuting these crimes. Blankenship’s error was in being a paranoiac who secretly recorded his employees and left a paper trail prosecutors were able to use to sentence him to the maximum. He doesn’t have any plausible deniability like, say, Bill Haslam’s crooked brother does.

  3. And I lived in and raised my kids in SE Kentucky and in West Virginia. And back then the then WV Governor was caught taking bribes from Coal Corporations to hide their crimes against their miner employees. Most huge mining operations had OVERSEAS owners that forbade UNION membership. If the 29 who died in this tragedy had been union members, their Union would have been up on the dangers in that mine. This is similar to the Flint Michigan water crisis, which was caused by a governor who HID this crime for over 2 years and STILL today, has NOT allotted ONE dime toward re-routing the poisoned water away from the citizens.

  4. Democommie

    I would guess that there is a battalion or so of lawyers who will use Blankenshit’s guilt to wring the max from the company in civil court.

    • The company has been sold and IIRC they new owner has already won immunity from paying in claims for misdeeds done under the old owner. You’d have to look that up.

  5. Justice has been served.

  6. It depends on one’s definition of justice. More coal corporations are beginning to declare bankruptcy after years of raping the Appalachian mountains and claiming that there will be NO JOBS EVER when they leave. And politicians have gone along with this ‘theory’ and taken money for NOT creating new opportunities for miners in Appalachia.