"This doesn't make it right though and at no point did I say they should get away with what they have done, I have simply offered alternatives to hefty jail sentences and opposed the sheer length of them. This was not an organised crime gang, this was kids mucking about, drawn by the thrill."
You said they should have their machines taken away and have a course on computer ethics. That's effectively nothing. Especially to someone who said:
' "It doesn't matter," SoBe insisted in the days immediately following his arrest. "James can get off, and go back to doing it and in under a month he will be making 3x what he made and be able to cover his tracks much better." '
That's the voice of someone who knew what they were doing would get them in trouble with police (because it already had), knew what they were doing was wrong (or else they wouldn't care about covering their tracks) and is determined to continue.
I'm sorry, but this is not kids mucking about for a thrill.
It's not kids "mucking about" when they're 18/19 and buying sports cars with their tens of thousands of dollars of ill gotten gains.
You are being deliberately and hopelessly naive, as well as changing your tune on appropriate punishment.
Is there a failing in the parents? yes. Should they have had more education about ethics? Maybe, but you don't even need education about computers to know that stuffing other people's machines with malware is wrong.
And as for you being factually correct....
"They are addicted to it, hence why they did not stop,"
No, SoBe did stop, then he went back to it. RTFA.
"The machines are malware ridden anyway"
So bloody what? It just means there are more of these people to catch.
"cannot be held fully responsible in the light of it being so easy"
This is utter nonsense, please stop repeating this crap. It's easy to shoplift, it's easy to mug people, it's easy to deal drugs. That doesn't make these things any less criminal.
"There are many aspect to this, we can look at how hacking has been glamorised in movies"
So has committing armed robbery on Las Vegas Casinos. So has murder. It doensn't make it right or excusable.
"It's a lifestyle."
So is gang crime and drug dealing.
"It's not an easy habit for them to break either, again, hence why they carried on, stupidly, despite knowing the authorities were hot after them."
Which is exactly why they need to be forced to stop and reevaluate their lives, something they proved (and stated) they would never do otherwise.
If you feel that putting people in prison is bad for them because they'll encounter "real" criminals, then please explain what a "real" criminal is, because it seems to me that 58K in fraud is pretty real.
As for them being given another chance at life, why yes they should have one. That's up to society to provide afterwards. Unfotunately it takes some time for those who have been deliberately and repeatedly dishonest and exploitative to be trusted.
They brought the loss of the best years of their lives on themselves. If they hadn't been caught, or hadn't been punished (hacking councilling, what a joke), then they would have continued to use the best years of their lives to make other people's lives miserable.