News Mash-up: Political Prison Sentences

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. behind bars / bɪˈhaɪnd bɑrs / (idiom) – in prison

    The people involved in the corruption scandal are now behind bars.

  2. severity / səˈvɛr ɪ ti / (n.) – the seriousness of something bad, such as a problem, illness, or injury

    Employees can be given a warning or fired from the company, depending on the severity of their violation.

  3. pending / ˈpɛn dɪŋ / (adj.) – not yet decided or approved

    My visa application is still pending.

  4. prosecution / ˌprɒs ɪˈkyu ʃən / (n.) – in court to see if he’s/she’s guilty of a crime

    The media gave detailed updates on the prosecution of the star athlete every day.

  5. convict / kənˈvɪkt / (v.) – to make an official decision in a court of law

    The two men were convicted of theft.


Read the text below.

US Capitol rioter gets 8 months for felony

A crane operator from Florida who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag was sentenced July 19 to eight months behind bars, the first punishment handed down for a felony charge in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and one that could help determine the severity of other sentences in hundreds of pending cases.

In pronouncing the sentence on Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said Hodgkins had played a role in one of the worst episodes in American history. (AP)

9-year prison term in 1st case under new law

A pro-democracy protester was sentenced July 30 to nine years in prison in the closely watched first prosecution under Hong Kong’s national security law as the ruling Communist Party tightens control over the territory.

Tong Ying-kit, 24, was convicted of inciting secession and terrorism for driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers at a July 1, 2020, rally. He carried a flag bearing the banned slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”

President Xi Jinping’s government imposed the law on the former British colony last year. (AP)

These articles were provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Hodgkins was sentenced to nine months in jail for breaching the US Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag. Do you think his sentence was fair, or was it too long/short? Do you think everyone involved in the US Capitol riot should be behind bars? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Many of the people who have been charged for their participation in the US Capitol riot were found because of their social media posts. What do you think about this (ex. they were foolish to upload proof of their involvement, the government shouldn’t use social media as evidence)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Tong Ying-kit was sentenced to nine years in jail driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers and carrying a flag bearing a banned slogan. Do you think his sentence was fair, or was it too long/short? Why? Discuss.
  • Some people say that national security laws are more about controlling citizens than about public safety. Do you agree? Why or why not? Discuss.