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Update on an Inmate

Posted by Joanna Weiss  July 3, 2007 11:15 AM

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Scooter Libby doesn't have to worry about jail anymore, but "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch is still there. I still hear from him via e-mail from time to time since interviewing him last year, and wasn't at all surprised to get one from him this morning, with the subject line "Wow:"

"What a country! Excessive sentence! Where's my pardon/commutation?

If Bush believes the judge in Scooter Libby's case sentenced Libby too harshly, perhaps Bush should closely examine what bigoted and otherwise biased judges are doing every day all over the country. Our system, with its judges (simple, flawed human beings) appointed for life and virtually without oversight, is destroying lives. I suggest we begin in Rhode Island with Ernest Torres."

Torres is the judge who presided over Hatch's 2006 tax evasion trial, and sentenced him to 51 months in prison for tax evasion. Hatch is serving them out now at a minimum-security facility in Morgantown, West Virginia, and awaiting the results of his appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. He spends a a lot of his time writing, about both his case and his increasingly bitter feelings about the U.S. legal system and the Bush administration; the tentative title, he told me, is "Naked for a Reason: Exposing Americans' Ignorance and Apathy." (In the e-mail, he punctuated the title with an emoticon: ":-)." Even when he's angry, Hatch is always good-natured.)

He also recently sent out a long e-mail treatise titled "Burn, Hatch, Burn," in which he compares himself to a Salem witch. It's a recap of the arguments he's offered to anyone who's asked about his post-"Survivor" legal woes: that the judicial system has treated him unfairly ever since his "Survivor" exposure began; that his tax liability was complex, partly because of a promise made by producers caught cheating on the Borneo beach; that he always intended to pay taxes on his $1 million winnings," but was waiting for the IRS to name the price. Hatch has a lot to say; the question is who will listen.

"So far, nobody has expressed much interest in most of what has occurred or is true in my case," he writes. "I am absolutely innocent and I find such apathy personally sad but nonetheless fascinating."

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