Patch Poll: Is 186 Years in Prison Fair for Teacher Accused of Sex with 16-Year-Old Former Student?

Does the punishment fit the alleged crime?

In April, a Wisconsin teacher was , who now lives in Marion. The male student, now 17, was 16 at the time the alleged affair began.

Last week, Marion police said that while at least one of the encounters occurred in Iowa, . However, in Wisconsin, where much of the alleged relationship took place, Shannon Cardinal, 43, of Oakfield, WI, could face 186 years in prison if convicted of having sex with the boy.

So, what do you think? Does 186 years in prison fit the alleged crime?

Tell us your answers in this poll. And we'd love to hear your reasoning in the comments section. 

marilyn May 14, 2012 at 11:33 AM
What she did was definitely wrong, but murderers don't get that long of a sentence!!!
Miguel A. Rodriguez May 14, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Certainly, it is not fair, when you see sentences given to others with higher indexes of criminal offenses.
Anne Carothers-Kay May 14, 2012 at 12:22 PM
186 years? In Iowa, people rarely serve even half their sentences, but that seems excessive. If you were the judge, what would you give her?
joe Gawel May 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM
One thing many criminal laws has wrong is the punishment. Few sentences recognize the need for rehabilitation, which is why so many people sentenced to prison become recidivists. And any punishment that is long than the life expectancy of the convicted person is by definition excessive. I by no means condone this woman's actions, but obviously she has a psychological problem. But I also can't guarantee that years of psychiatric counseling will change her mindset. However, a society that attempts to help prisoners like her overcome their dysfunction is preferable to one that only incarcerates and doesn't try to rehabilitate.
James Surratt May 14, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Personally, I think it is ridiculous to hand out such long term sentences to people that are unlikely to live that long. I know people are living longer but can you imagine some 100 year old lady trying to seduce an underage person? I've seen an in-law who was 90 before she died and she was a far cry from a 20 year old in body appearance. So lets be reasonable. If the sentence puts the accused at 80 or beyond, why not just say life sentence?
Roy Park May 14, 2012 at 12:53 PM
At $30,000+ per year and assuming she lives but 40 more years, the $1.2 million cost of incarceration alone should cause all to realize the sentence is ludicrous. Couple the cost with sentences on the books for comparative crimes, the only logical response to the question asked is, no - the sentence is not fair nor is it wise.
Kurt B. May 14, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Like the other comments already made .... the punishment should fit the crime. We need to look at our entire system of justice in this country. Time for a re-evaluation
David Leonard May 14, 2012 at 02:01 PM
We have just got to quit locking people up and throwing away the key. I think I have read that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world--the highest since Stalin ruled the U.S.S.R. perhaps. We cannot afford to send so many people to prison--especially for illogically long sentences.
joe Gawel May 14, 2012 at 02:06 PM
David, I think you're right about the incarceration rate in the U.S. It has long seemed ironic to me that we in the U.S. are willing to continue to throw money at prisons but don't want to fund programs to keep people out of prison (early education, job training for those without necessary skills, etc.). There's more to say, but not the time.
Megan VerHelst May 14, 2012 at 02:28 PM
That's exactly what I thought, Marilyn!
Erv Server May 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I don't think she should go to prison at all. Losing her career and public ridicule is certainly a punishment. I think she should be forced to undergo therapy for a long period of time, also barred from having contact with that boy. Certainly it is wrong for a teacher to have sexual relations with students however this guy was 16 or 17....I seriously doubt he is scarred for life over this ordeal. I've read some versions of this story where the boy is sort of bragging.
LBarrett May 14, 2012 at 03:58 PM
As much as I hate to say it, I believe there is a double standard between young men/adult female and young woman/adult male teacher student relationships. I'd be willing to bet for many many years, more women teachers got away with this be...havior because of that double standard. It's just recently started having more female's get busted because of the digital age, sexting, e-mails etc. Boys are getting high 5's... girls are being manipulated. That's the public perception. Those kids that are 16 and up, they know right from wrong. The teachers know right from wrong. I think they need to stop prosocuting (sp?) these cases if the kids are of legal consenting age for their state. It's a waste of tax money. If a teacher is found to be having sex with a student and it is reflecting in their grades (i.e. kid goes from carrying F's to A's) I'd question the teacher ethic's and have him/her sent to a review board. I don't really think there is a down the line "right way/wrong way" to handle this because I don't see it as a problem that will ever really go away.
christine mann-gleason east May 14, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Overreaction: every/anyone should be loved wherever possible; spend your energy fighting hate, abuse, injury, injustice, crime, etc.--violence is hyperactive EXERCISE to speed blood-circulation (obsess-compulse)!
Katianna Edwards May 15, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Justice in America is unfair
B.A. Morelli May 15, 2012 at 05:10 AM
What is the appropriate penalty, or should it not be a crime?
L Key May 15, 2012 at 08:02 PM
This is ridiculous. I have worked with many, many sexual abuse victims and none of the perpetrators was given a sentence this extreme. If fact the majority of sexual offenders are out of jail in 2.5 years. They get sentenced for 10, the minute they go to prison the sentence is cut in half. The sentence again is cut in half for good behavior. Although, it enrages me that a rapist gets off so easily, this is an extreme. Therapists who have consensual sex with a client even if it is a teen of a questionable age (in Iowa 14 is consider consensual as long as the partner isn't over 18, and then it is statutory unless there is a 5 year or more difference in age.) All of these do not receive more than 15 years, again with parole possible in 3.5). Given this over 100 years is beyond unreasonable and any jury that would support this in an appeal are certainly questionable. The judge who gave a sentence like this should also be question in terms of extreme bias.
Scott Raynor May 15, 2012 at 08:26 PM
To be fair, L Key, this is not the sentence she received. She has yet to be found innocent or convicted of any crime. It's actually the sum total of the charges against her.
renee May 21, 2012 at 06:21 AM
I believe that's to much time u give murders that much time which u only give them 25 yrs yes wht she did was wrong but 186 yrs is way to much time be reasonable people..
Lady August 26, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Any type of sexual assault is the easiest crime to prosecute these days; they are pursued with vengeance, more than the Salem witches were. States know that this type of crime is the easiest to convict because even though the perpetrator will plead NOT guilty, the states hurl massive counts against them not to mention years upon years of prison if convicted. So, since the perpetrator will not risk a trial by jury due to the media already having scared the public into mass hysteria, it now is a matter of the DA and the defense to come up with a plea deal which will still result in either jail or prison along with years of probation/parole. The reason states like to go after these type of cases is, they are a huge money maker to the states, they keep people employed, from the cop that arrested the person, all the way up to Department of Corrections, and everything in between, probation officers, assistant to file papers, service to provide food to facility, and it is all paid by you and me the taxpayer, while they collect some great benefits and makes twice elected Scotty look good for providing jobs in the state of Wisconsin. It is a crime what we as taxpayers allow this type of spending. Time to get involved, here are a few sites that might open your eyes in Wisconsin . . . .http://www.wisconsinreform.org - OR - to find your state go to . . . http://www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org - please get involved
Lady August 26, 2012 at 11:26 PM
And more facts are when the person is released from prison, they are not allowed to go home, they must go to the county of conviction to homes that are run by Lutheran Social Services, commonly referred to as, TLP (transitional living place), so they can adjust to being out and the maybe they will get a transfer back to their home, if the home is in a different county compared to where the crime was committed. And the receiving county does NOT have to accept this offender, so the offender has to go with out the love and support of family in their home or community, and live as directed by the PO agent until they get a job, and who hires there sex offender, a whole new subject, no one hires them! And does this all make sense? The state has such a wonderful web site, “The Reentry Director coordinates the agency's efforts to improve community safety by improving the process for the return of inmates to the community after they have completed their prison sentence. !!! Time to get involved, here are a few sites that might open your eyes in Wisconsin . . . .http://www.wisconsinreform.org - OR - to find your state go to . . . http://www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org - please get involved
Lady August 26, 2012 at 11:27 PM
The Reentry Director oversees the Department's Reentry Initiative, promoting offender accountability and success from prison admission through release and supervision into the community.” This site is temporarily going through some changes, the person that use to be there must not have contributed enough $$ to Scotty’s campaign and is now in the process of looking for a new job, remember state jobs are not given to what you know but “who” you know!! Lots of hard earned taxpayer up the . . . bend over tax payer!! Now don’t get me wrong, I want to live in a place that is safe, but way to many of these assault cases are consensual or sex with a 17 or 18 year old. When it comes to murder, the 17 year old is treated as an adult and put away for life, but suddenly with sex, that same 17 year old is like a 2 year old! JOBS, jobs, jobs, is the only thing this witch hunt is and we are no safer nor are we in danger of being raped, mirrors and smoking guns is what most of these sexual assault cases are and injustice to the public who think they are somehow safe. Time to get involved, here are a few sites that might open your eyes in Wisconsin . . . .http://www.wisconsinreform.org - OR - to find your state go to . . http://www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org - please get involved, here really is an injustice being done to those that did the crime and before all these “Salem Witch jobs” were put into place and pass on any information you think might be pertinent.
Lady August 26, 2012 at 11:37 PM
The SOSEN (Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network) Organization operates a hotline which has been operational for a few years. As one of our collaboration initiatives RSOL and W.A.R. will begin assisting with coverage and expenses. The calls are routed from the 800 number to the person responsible for phone coverage at that time. You will have a script and some guidelines to help you determine what we can and can't do to help them. For example, they will get a recorded disclaimer stating we are not attorneys, etc before the call is routed to the volunteer. So, if you have additional questions or feel this is something you would like to do please contact me with a day of the week and times you would be available. More volunteers would allow us to have more live call time and that is our ultimate goal....to have a real person on the other end of the call as much as possible. And remember, W.A.R. needs everybody doing something! Also, don't forget to go back in and change your registration to a "membership" status before midnight on August 16th as that is when we will do the conversion. You can choose Paypal or have it create an invoice so you can send a check or money order for the $25. For those who have already upgraded your status we say a big Thank You. Someone asked early on about an option to do incremental payments and we have that available to you. Vicki Henry Women Against Registry, Director 202-630-0345


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