Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan has once again handed down a sentence for a Capitol rioter that was tougher than what federal prosecutors were requesting in their particular case. Now, Chutkan has sentenced Indiana resident Dona Bissey to spend 14 days in prison, rejecting a request from prosecutors for 3 years of probation instead of any time behind bars. Prosecutors pointed to the opportunity for federal authorities to essentially keep an eye on Bissey, considering her documented inclination towards conspiracy theories and her willingness to act on those beliefs, but Chutkan said that, for what Bissey perpetrated, there “must be consequences” — apparently to a greater degree than probation.
Bissey had previously pleaded guilty to a single count of illegally parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol, which is a misdemeanor. The charge has repeatedly appeared in lower level Capitol riot cases, in contrast to the instances where defendants face much more serious charges, like conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, and assaulting law enforcement. Meanwhile, Bissey’s attorney Cara Halverson shared at her sentencing hearing this week that she “cannot tell you the amount of times she told me, crying, about being genuinely remorseful about her actions.” That remorse, though, appeared after the threat of serious consequences for her actions came into view. In one Facebook post, Bissey referred to the Capitol riot as the “best day ever.”
Chutkan indicated that her focus was on Bissey’s “actions” as opposed to her beliefs. Per reporter Zoe Tillman, the judge also commented as follows:
‘I cannot help but think that had there been no consequences for Ms. Bissey in terms of getting criminally charged… she would still be proud of her participation in that riot… But there must be consequences for taking part, even a small part, in a mass attempt to stop the certification of a presidential election.’
Besides the 14 days in jail — which Bissey is required to report for at some point after January 1 of next year, in light of family health issues — Bissey was also sentenced to 60 hours of community service and a $500 fine. The other defendant who recently received a sentence from Chutkan that was stricter than what the government was asking for was Texas resident Matthew Mazzocco, who the judge sentenced to 45 days in prison. The prosecutors in his case were seeking three months of home confinement, but Chutkan pointedly insisted that there “have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government beyond sitting at home.”