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Bruce Windsor, Deacon Turned Bank Robber? "Recession Robberies" on the Rise

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on May 05, 2009 3:50 PM

Bruce Windsor, a former deacon and family man from South Carolina, allegedly resorted to bank robbery in the face of rising financial difficulties, reports the AP. Alarmingly, Windsor's case may simply be a reflection of an ongoing trend of rising violence and crime during the recession, too.

His family had difficulty comprehending his long fall: "This is something Bruce has never done," his sister Lisa Weaver told a judge in the case, "The only thing I can think of is he must've just snapped under the pressure. ... I can't imagine the desperation that must have caused this." Windsor may have indeed been under intense financial pressure, the story noted, as he was a real estate investor whose troubles predated and continued through the recession.

Regardless, he allegedly decided to put on a wig, sunglasses, and a mask, and attempted to rob a bank at gunpoint. He got caught by police during the attempt, and apparently no one was injured, but as noted, the crime left everyone wondering why he would do such a thing.

As pointed out by the AP, job losses have been named as possible triggers for a number of the mass shootings that have occurred in recent months, such as those in Binghamton and Alabama. But less headline-worthy bank robberies also rise during recessions. These types of so-called "recession robberies" are not unheard of, and the AP pointed out a few other similar cases including those of "a Georgia minister, a policeman in Illinois and a single dad in St. Louis -- all blaming dire financial straits for their arrests" (not to be left out is "granny robber", Barbara Joly).

Unfortunately for Windsor and the rest (if the allegations are true), the law makes no excuse for poverty or difficult circumstances and bank robbery (particularly if armed) carries hefty penalties. Sentencing judges do have some discretion as to the length of sentences they impose, as well as the amount of consideration they give to a defendant's circumstances and past. However, as granny robber Barbara Joly found out, that may only get a sympathetic individual so far, as she was sentenced this past February to nine years of prison time.

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