On Nov.18, Theranos founder and former chief executive Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison.

As a physician, investigator and teacher, I followed the dramatic rise and fall of Theranos’ fantastical claims and stunning fundraising driven by a narrative about developing a medical device that could detect a multitude of diseases from a few drops of blood.

The Silicon Valley drama involved multiple corporations and non-scientific luminaries, who bought in, literally and figuratively, to the seductive promises of the nascent technology. Some have said that Ms. Holmes’ was a charismatic con artist, some have called her an idealistic visionary who lost sight of clinical realities. Whatever the case, and apart from the Hollywood flavors of the story, the case illustrates the unique American tendency to sustain disproportionate mass incarceration despite overwhelming evidence that it is not a deterrent to crime; largely fails to rehabilitate those who have taken a left turn in life; and arguably destroys children, spouses and families of those who have been incarcerated.

Instead of requiring community service from offenders who could contribute and make meaningful restitution beyond financial reparations, taxpayers continue to shoulder the multifaceted and pervasive effects of imprisonment.

Peter Pressman
Adjunct assistant professor
Department of Sociology
University of Maine, Orono

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: