The Alaskan Bush People fraud scandal has taken yet another surprising turn. Sixty-two-year-old Billy Brown and his 31-year-old son, Joshua “Bam Bam” Brown, will not be headed to jail for 30 days after all. The Alaska Dispatch News previously reported that as part of a plea agreement, the two men would turn themselves in to serve time in mid-April. Instead, the Associated Press reports the Alaskan Bush People stars will be serving their sentences through electronic monitoring.
The two men made a plea agreement after it was learned the Brown family had claimed thousands of dollars in oil revenue strictly reserved for Alaskan citizens — and despite not being residents of the state for years. Previously, it was reported that in addition to paying back the dividends and coughing up thousands of dollars in fines, the reality TV stars would hand themselves over and serve a month in jail.
With the revelation that the 30-day sentence doesn’t involve actual jail time, some are wondering if favoritism is a factor.
Perhaps the fault is with the media and the general public for making the assumption that jail-time would be the only available option. According to Sherrie Daigle, a special assistant with the Alaskan Department of Corrections, the department “has discretion in determining how a sentence is served.” For instance, risk factors reportedly play a vital role in deciding if certain crimes get punished with jail time or who qualifies for electronic monitoring.
Her claim is in line with what Department of Corrections spokesman Corey Allen-Young told the Alaskan Dispatch News.
“Inmates who want to serve their prison sentences at home must apply for the department’s electronic monitoring program, Allen-Young said. The department requires that inmates in the program meet a list of qualifications, including no weapons or alcohol in their homes. They also cannot be convicted sex offenders and must have a working landline phone, among other requirements.
“‘You have to be considered very low-risk,’ Allen-Young said.”
Although fans of the Browns and the Alaskan Bush People series would agree with the notion that this family is “very low-risk,” there is one qualification listed here that it would seem the reality TV stars fail to meet, and that’s the “no weapons” requirement.
Anyone who has seen the show is acutely aware of the use and ownership of by the family, especially when it pertains to hunting and protection from possible threats.
Also, one of the main selling points of Alaskan Bush People is the Brown family’s isolation and lack of reliance on conventional technology. One of the funnier moments early on in the Discovery Channel program involved one of the brothers asking for a woman’s phone number despite not having a phone.
Despite these noted contradictions, Daigle insists the Browns received no special treatment.
The good news for the Browns and the potential success of the Alaskan Bush People show going forward is that the lack of jail time means there’s no real threat of interruptions or the family being separated for a short-term period. It means the Discovery Channel can probably begin filming the fifth season sooner than some would have expected. Another plus for the series is that the Browns’ legal drama can be played up in future episodes by the network for the sake of an additional storyline.
There’s just one major caveat. It’s now virtually impossible to pass off the story behind Alaskan Bush People as remotely genuine. Not only did the legal case reveal that this family wasn’t actually “bush people,” it revealed how much of their lives were spent outside of Alaska.
How are they “Alaskan bush people” if they’re technically not Alaskan? This is just one of a few head-scratch-worthy questions raised.
Do you think it’s fair Billy and Joshua Brown won’t be going to jail despite committing fraud? Is the success of the Alaskan Bush People to thank for their light punishment? Share your thoughts below!
[Photo by Becky Bohrer/AP Images – Screen Grab From Discovery YouTube Channel]