At the heart of all this is a baseline of fear and uncertainty. That's what kept Childs's bail so ridiculously high and kept him behind bars for two years from the time of his arrest to the time of his sentencing. Nobody involved with this case has any clue regarding the technical elements, and the prosecution painted Childs as a constant threat and danger to the network, possibly even from prison. They turned him into a boogeyman or supervillain who would wreak havoc on all mankind if he ever saw the light of day. Playing on these fears worked exceedingly well.
The precedent of this case is extremely damaging to IT admins. If you have a suitably advanced skill set and get into a political tussle within your department, you can be held in jail due to the possibility you might use those skills in a damaging way. That train of thought classifies high-level IT administration and architecture skills as weapons.
It brings to mind a medieval warrior who is held in a dungeon unless he's needed to fight in a war; otherwise, he's chained to a wall because he might start hurting the wrong people. Not only has San Francisco chained Terry Childs to that wall, it's setting him up for debtors prison for the rest of his life.
At the start of this whole circus, I asked how much will it cost for the city of San Francisco to get rid of its most competent admin. The answer is apparently $1.5 million -- and the politicians are sending him the bill. How does that punishment even come close to fitting the crime?
This story, "Insult to injury: San Francisco wins $1.5M from Terry Childs," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.