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Elizabeth Holmes. Photo by Bloomberg.
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Why Elizabeth Holmes Shouldn’t Go to Prison

Photo: Elizabeth Holmes. Photo by Bloomberg.

Finally! It shouldn’t be a surprise that a jury found Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty this afternoon on four charges of fraud and conspiracy. It was obviously hard for jurors to look past evidence that, for example, Holmes had doctored paperwork by adding the logos of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer to suggest they were believers in Theranos’ technology. Holmes now faces as long as 20 years in prison.

There’s a case to be made that Holmes shouldn’t go to prison, though. After all, what would it achieve? Her career as an entrepreneur is over. After a conviction on charges of defrauding investors, it’s hard to imagine anyone would back her in another venture. The U.S. imprisons people at a far higher rate than any other country—and of course it is disproportionately people of color who are the victims, not white people like Holmes. Even so, we routinely accept prison as a penalty without thinking through the logic of whether it makes sense.

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