The fame-seeking parents of "Balloon Boy" are headed to jail, sentenced by a Colorado judge on charges related to the family's high-profile hoax. Last October, hoping to land a reality television deal, the Heenes falsely reported their 6-year old son was stowed away inside a drifting homemade weather balloon, prompting a massive rescue effort and a blitz of live media coverage. Richard Heene will serve 30 days in prison followed by 60 days of "work-release" time to be served on evenings and weekends. Mayumi Heene will serve 20 days once her husband completes his term. In addition, the two have been ordered pay $43,000 in restitution, and cannot profit from the incident until their four-year parole terms have ended. Is justice served by jailing the Heenes? (Watch Richard Heene's tearful apology)
They are getting what they deserve: The Heenes' "cruel and thoughtless hoax" demands meaningful punishment from the courts, says the editorial board of The Aurora Sentinel. Not only did Richard Heene lie to countless police officials and the American public — he forced his own sons to go on national TV and lie. Heene is "a middle-aged man who conspired long and hard to pull off a cruel stunt for his own gain." He needs time to jail to "cool his heels" and reflect on his actions.
"Give Heene time behind bars to ponder mistakes"
Incarcerating them is completely crazy: Sure, what the Heenes did was wrong, says Zennie Abraham at the San Francisco Chronicle, but jailing the couple is "stupid, and wasteful of tax dollars." Here's a better idea: Why not sentence Richard Heene to star in a reality TV show about an important civic cause such as domestic violence? That way, he could become famous "in the process of helping others rather than himself."
"Ballon boy dad and wife should not be jailed"
Harsher punishment, please: Jail isn't pleasant, certainly, but the Heenes are still getting what they wanted most — publicity, says Tilman Walker at The Admonition. Even though the couple can't profit from the stunt for four years, they still "got off pretty easy." And the stipulation that Mayumi Heene won't begin her sentence until Richard Heene has finished his is particularly rich. "What a country."
"Balloon Boy's parents sentenced to jail time"
SEE THE WEEK'S RELATED COVERAGE OF "BALLOON BOY"
• Defending Balloon Boy's dad
• How Balloon Boy fooled the media
• Video: Balloon Boy's dad cries in court
• Video: Balloon Boy rats out his father