Tag Archives: prison industrial complex

I Never Smoked Marijuana — But I’m Serving Life In Prison Over A Marijuana Charge

CESAL: I Never Smoked Marijuana — But I’m Serving Life In Prison Over A Marijuana Charge

By Craig Cesal

Aug 27, 2019

“I sentence you to a term of natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole.”

These were the words I heard just months after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. You see, at that time, the news was filled with theories that drug dealers finance terrorists, and I had just been convicted of my first felony: conspiring to distribute marijuana. This was the newest foray into the “War on Drugs.”

The government never claimed that I bought, sold, or even used marijuana, but rather my business repaired semi-trucks for a company that trafficked marijuana. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, as I didn’t do anything with marijuana. I was wrong, according to the federal court in Gainesville, Georgia. My business, nestled near Chicago, was auctioned by lawyers in Georgia to pay for their services to secure the life sentence, after my home and savings were spent.

Two months ago, recreational marijuana was approved for sale by the Illinois legislature. Some of my business equipment is likely being used again to repair trucks that haul marijuana.

For over 17 years, I have watched robbers, rapists and even murderers come and go from prison. Last year, a guy in my cellblock who killed two federal marshals was paroled after serving 30 years.

I’ve been watching the news, and I’m waiting to see if we prisoners will get the right to vote.

Here at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, the cornerstone, engraved with “A.D. 1937,” reminds me that the prison opened the same year the federal government made marijuana illegal. The construction workers likely used pot while they built the prison. Looking out from my job at the prison factory, where we make blankets for the military, I can see “Death House” — where Timothy McVeigh and others died. He spent less time in federal prison than me, although his current housing is likely worse.

From Cellblock D, a couple of weeks ago before the time I wrote this, John Walker Lindh, the so-called “White Taliban” who shot CIA agents in Afghanistan, went home after serving his 20-year sentence. He came in after me, and with good time credits, served only 17 years.

To my knowledge, he never aided others who schlepped marijuana. Whew, that’s a good thing, or he’d still be here in prison with me. He was convicted of providing aid to terrorists, but for anything related to marijuana.

Prison is intended to teach offenders not to violate the law again, or simply, for those, like me, the judge deemed irredeemable, to teach the public, who may be thinking of something related to marijuana. At times, I scratch my head trying to fathom who is learning what as a result of my sentence. Bradley Manning made WikiLeaks a household word, and President Obama sent him home because he wore a dress. Maxwell Klinger, of “M*A*S*H” fame, had no such luck.

Obama also turned down my clemency request. Just what am I, or anyone else, supposed to learn from my life-for-pot sentence?

The Terre Haute prison abuts the Wabash River, which separates Indiana from Illinois. From the right places, I can see Illinois across the river, where I lived, and where marijuana distribution, and thereby marijuana conspiracy, is encouraged by state tax collectors. Did I merely have bad timing in selling services to marijuana traffickers from my perch in Illinois? Nope, federal DEA agents are still nabbing distributors in Illinois, well, because they still can. Oh, and the money from the marijuana dispensaries likely pay their salaries. Hopefully, I’ll learn my lesson in prison.

I imagine I can learn from the Federal Bureau of Prison’s paycheck collectors charged with caging me. The prison buildings are surrounded by tall fences, razor wire and cameras. No one from the media, from a family, or from an auditor can get in to see what staffers actually do inside the fence. Guards often go days without so much as seeing an inmate, if they even show up for work. Most will spend more years receiving retirement benefits from the job than they spent actually working.

A sentence of life means a sentence until death. Staff are flummoxed trying to discern what to put in the Federal Bureau of Prisons Form for my release date. Death won’t work. It must be a number. The last time I checked, they were writing 2028. Remember, nobody is coming over the fence and razor wire to check on the paperwork. But no release is imminent.

The sentencing judge determined I am a marijuana reprobate. I am thus irredeemable, and unworthy of anything other than final damnation in prison. Murderers are released after 13.4 years on average, according to the Department of Justice, and a terrorist can go home after 17 years. But I am a prisoner of the War on Drugs. There’s no hope for me under existing federal law.

I’ve learned my lesson, and lawmakers should be pushed to learn a lesson. Federal drug laws, especially marijuana laws, are long overdue for reform. The “fix” must also include sensible relief for prisoners of the failed War on Drugs.

Craig Cesal is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in Indiana’s Terre Haute prison for a “marijuana” offense. He co-owned a towing company that recovered and repaired trucks for a rental company, some of which were used by smugglers to transport marijuana. He graduated from Montini High School in Lombard, Illinois in 1977. His daughter, Lauren, has obtained more than 300,000 signatures on a petition calling for clemency.”

CONTINUE READING…

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Additional Links of Information for Craig Cesal:

https://www.facebook.com/FreeCraigCesal/

https://www.change.org/p/free-my-dad-serving-life-without-parole-for-marijuana

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/12/02/he-got-life-without-parole-for-pot-and-he-was-just-denied-clemency/

http://www.pow420.com/craig_cesal

https://www.civilized.life/articles/marijuana-lifer-craig-cesal/

Free KY Amish Farmer Samuel Girod

(Please read and follow the link to sign petition for a man who has been unjustly jailed for charges which originated with a labeling infraction that led up to him being incarcerated.  It is unbelievable that our Country has gone so far as to incriminate this man!  Just read the story by Sally Oh.  Smkrider)

Help us get a presidential pardon for KY Amish Farmer Samuel Girod!

Sally Oh started this petition to President Donald J. Trump and 2 others

The FDA successfully harassed, indicted and convicted 57year old KY Amish farmer Samuel Girod for charges stemming from an innocent labeling infraction!

Sam is now serving 6 years in federal prison. Sam has lived his entire life in the Amish tradition: no electricity. That means no lights, no running water, no electronic sounds, no cell phones, no internet, no planes, no driving cars. He’s a farmer and lived on a farm all his life.

He’s now in prison about 7 hours away from his family — his wife Elizabeth, their 12 children and 25 grandchildren. He is now surrounded by steel with armed guards, bells and whistles, loudspeakers, warnings, cement and little access to the sun.

UPDATE 4/16/19: Sam has been moved several times and is now in Big Sandy which is 120 miles from home. There are no fences and fewer than 100 people there. It is not home but it is not hideous either. His family visits every two weeks and he even gets to see his grands!!!

Sam has never harmed anyone. There are no victims of the 3 herbals salves he made and sold for over 20 years. He made the mistake of mislabeling one of the salves.

The story of his persecution is practically unbelievable.

Except that I live a few minutes from Sam and met him in 2015. By now, I have met scores of people who’ve known him for many years, if not their entire lives. All of us witnessed the entire goings on firsthand. You could not make this up!

Read the entire story at  KY Free Press

— follow the links in the left sidebar for “Condensed” story.
You’ll also find links to the 3 days of the trial and Sam’s sentencing as well as all of the court documents.

At this point, Sam’s only hope for release is a presidential pardon. Please sign this petition, then share it with your friends and family.

Besides signing the petition, please feel free to send letters, emails, and make calls to seven (7) Kentucky legislators and President Trump. Details, addresses, sample missives at KY Free Press — follow the links in the left sidebar

(It doesn’t take long — I contacted everyone via tweet, FB post and email in less than 20 minutes!)

At the very least, our elected representatives must know that PLENTY of people — at least 30K of you with more signing everyday — care about an Amish KY farmer being railroaded into prison by an out-of-control federal agency!

#freeamishsam #thefreedomcoalition

For updates, subscribe to kyfreepress.com and/or follow Sally Oh (xosallyoh) on Facebook.

CONTINUE TO CHANGE.ORG TO SIGN ONLINE PETITION!

(TN) Human Rights and Cannabis Activist “The King Pin” Thorne Peters Continues to Fight Shelby County Charges After Latest Arrest

Actus Reus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea

For the act to be guilty, the mind must be guilty, for the mind to be guilty, the act must be criminal.

April 12, 2018

thorne

On April 3rd, Mr. Thorne Peters was “live” in front of the Shelby County Justice Center, awaiting his latest arrest for selling small amounts of  Cannabis in baggies – prior to his sentencing for the case which he lost to a Jury of his “peers” on March 1, 2018, in Shelby County Tennessee under Judge J. Robert Carter Jr.

Because of the nature of evil from within the System you have to realize at some point that we cannot allow them to continue legislating us to death.  Legislation promotes the prison industrial complex and every day another innocent person is sent into inhumane conditions to suffer for “imaginary” crimes, if you will.

Every time another piece of Legislation is enacted we all lose another piece of our Freedom!  This holds true particularly in the fight against prohibition of Cannabis/Hemp (yes, they are = ONE plant), because every time a piece of “medical” legislation is passed it regulates us out of our freedom.  The easiest example of this is legislation that would prohibit personal growing.  I have written about this subject before, as it all ties in with Agenda 21 and the fight for the control of all of our food and medicine. 

Cannabis is FOOD first.  It is an unalienable right from birth.  We cannot allow what we were given at birth to be stolen from us, literally one plant at a time.  Anyone who has ever been involved in any research about Cannabis knows the conspiracies or reasons behind it’s illegality.   The fight for our freedom must be a repeal of the prohibiting laws both on the Federal Statutes and U.N. Treaty levels.  That strategy alongside #NO MENS REA by defendants in possession of Cannabis cases of all kinds can change the Justice System as we know it today.  The bottom line is that Cannabis has to be freed for ALL not just SOME for A FEW REASONS!  If we do not push for change now and continue to allow the “legislating” of Cannabis it will not end with Cannabis – this I can promise you.  If you live long enough you will see regulation on the possession and use of fruits and vegetables and weeds, (just like “Hemp” has to be <.3 THC) !  It was started a long time ago and has progressed into what we see today.  And the regulation and control of Cannabis as a Schedule II Controlled Substance will be the launch of the Corporate Pharma driven market that we will be left with and you can forget about growing your own plants!

Cannabis has to be removed from control first and released back to the people in it’s full form.  At that point, if Corporate Cannabis can market a good product for sale at a reasonable cost and contribute to tax revenue system, I would be glad to try it…at the same time I am growing my own plants, for my own purposes, in my own backyard, or sunroom!

The injustice that Thorne Peters is subjecting himself to, to make a very real effort to inform the people at large about their Human Rights is to be noted and appreciated.  I think that more people should take the time to fully listen to what he is saying and not take offense to his expressiveness.  I also find it appalling that there has been no notable media coverage to speak of on his case.  I will ask you to share the information as far as you can and encourage other media outlets to cover this story.

THE SPECTER OF THE GUN was used to take THE TRIAL OF THE MILLENNIUM next level by labeling me a CRIMINAL who committed no crime and a VIOLENT OFFENDER who committed no act of violence according to the evidence and testimony. NO MENS REA is now “A FORTIORI”. As I will have some years to spend in prison, pending a multitude of appeals, I will find fellow prisoners who also have no name of a victim on their affidavit and unleash them upon the system. “

On the 10th of April Thorne Peters was arraigned for charges incurred on the Courthouse steps on the 3rd of April – which was supposed to be his sentencing day for the  Guilty verdict on March 1st.  That date was moved forward to the 12th of April.

Linda Harrah, known as “Lady L”, his partner, has indicated to me that the conditions inside of this facility are inhumane – a problem all unto itself.  He is being held in the “drunk tank” where  it is very loud all the time,  with trouble frequently breaking out and little or no supervision .  He is on “lockdown” 23 hours per day leaving only one hour for personal hygiene, phone calls or whatever else he may need to take care of such as commissary – I suppose if there is a long line that day you are just sh*t  out  of luck! 

“Lady L”  was in court for sentencing today.

He was sentenced to 36 months 100% time and 1 yr 30% time … so 39 months. He has hurt no one and only committed acts of civil disobedience.  He has committed no crime against anyone’s “person, property nor puppy”…

On April 24th he will be arraigned  for the two new pot charges from April 3rd.  On May 30th he will be back before Judge J Robert Carter Jr. for appeal.

“He was magnificent on the stand today testifying to all the history of the past that he represents. Can’t wait to hear or read the transcripts.” – “Lady L”

BE SURE TO FOLLOW “LADY L”, LINDA HARRAH, ON FACEBOOK !

Lady L” has been by Thorne’s side since the beginning and is  striving to keep the information flowing about this very important #NOMENSREA Case,.  She is on Facebook everyday giving updates thru video.  It is very interesting to watch.  Though it is heartbreaking to see someone so  dedicated to Activism be treated so unjustly and inhumanely by our Justice System, i.e., Shelby County, Tennessee, in particular.

WATCH & LISTEN
as THE KINGPIN takes The Ministerz of Injustice to task
for the ongoing CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY against him that
officially began November 11, 2008

THE PLANTED BUST

Call Governor  Bill Haslam (615) 741- 2001 ask for Constituent Services or Policy. Tell them you want to have the Thorne Peters conspiracy investigated # NOMENSREA…

Below listed are links to Facebook Video’s from “Lady L” which give updates for each day since Thorne’s arrest.

Thurs:  April 12th – Day 10   Additional Video

Weds:  April 11th – Day 9

Tues:  April 10th – Day 8

Mon:  April 9th – Day 7

Sun:  April 8th – Day 6

Sat:  April 7th – Day 5

Fri:  April 6th – Day 4

Thurs:  April 5th – Day 3

Weds:  April 4th – Day 2

Tues:  April 3rd – Day 1

Image may contain: text

Those of you facing PROHIBITION charges, who are not a target of your local Ministerz of Injustice, who have no guns to be tainted with, will follow the law to proceed PRO SE with the lawful offensive of NO MENS REA and the HUMAN RIGHTS declaration of “I AM THE LAW” in the name of THE KINGPIN Thorne Peters! Any other position is unlawful; a crime against humanity . . .

RELATED:

FOUND GUILTY, BY JURY, of “possession of pot – that I was not in possession of…” Thorne Peters

Thorne Peters LIVE from Shelby County Justice Center in Memphis Tn …

“NO MENS REA WAY MARCH UNTIL PROHIBITION ENDS”

The FREEDOMcast of THE KINGPIN THORNE PETERS!

HERE IS EVIDENCE OF A CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY & PROOF OF #NOMENSREA

THE KINGPIN PUNKS A PIG! DETECTIVE GARY BEANS. MAYOR MARK LUTTRELL. AMY WEIRICH, BILL GIBBONS

CHRONOLOGY OF CORRUPTION!

This is the highlight video of Thorne Peters , THE KINGPIN, selling POT on the front steps of the Memphis TN, Shelby County Courthouse on 4-3-2018.

PLEASE ALSO REMEMBER THAT FUNDS ARE DESPERATELY NEEDED FOR EXPENSES AND LEGAL COSTS!  PLEASE DONATE!

DANX for sharing with “THE FREEDOMfund” … I will be sentenced to 12 years in prison on April 3, 2018, with a projected release date of 10/2021, so I need your support to keep my home fires burning; I need to make phone calls to continue being heard LIVE daily on the phone to share the message of FREEDOM with those being oppressed; I need to take care of Lady L, so she is not in the dark in da hood and maybe some of our puppiez . . . I’d love to see them again in life. So, jump in and make a difference in my life as I go down fighting for our FREEDOM from PROHIBITION, even from behind the prison walls. “I AM THE LAW!” #NOMENSREA .

OTHER INFORMATION OF NOTE:

TO SEND LETTERS OF ENCOURAGEMENT:

Shelby County Criminal Justice Center

Thorne Peters
201 Poplar
Section LL Block A
Housing 14 Bed L
Memphis Tn 38103

Tennessee locks ailing, mentally ill, pregnant and juvenile prisoners in isolation to help jails save money.

FINDINGS LETTER RE INVESTIGATION OF SHELBY COUNTY JAIL

J. ROBERT CARTER, JR.

Untitled

J. Robert “Bobby” Carter – Ballotpedia

How the U.N. is stealing our “UNALIENABLE RIGHTS” to grow food and Medicine through U.N. Convention on Narcotic Drugs

smkrider

Milwaukee Inmate Died After Being Deprived of Water for 7 Days

Milwaukee Inmate Died After Being Deprived of Water for 7 Days

By DANIEL VICTORAPRIL 25, 2017

 

Terrill Thomas had bipolar disorder, a lawyer for his estate said.

Inmates, correction officers and investigators are testifying in Milwaukee this week to help determine whether jail employees will be charged with abuse in the dehydration death of an inmate who the authorities say was deprived of water for a week.

Prosecutors and a lawyer representing the estate of the inmate, Terrill Thomas, say that correction officers turned off the man’s water supply in an isolation cell in April 2016, and that he was unable to ask for help because he was having a mental health crisis. He died on April 24, 2016.

In March, the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office requested an inquest, a relatively uncommon legal procedure in which a cause of death is examined for possible criminal charges. After a week of testimony, jurors will decide whether to recommend charges against jail employees, though the district attorney is not bound by the recommendation.

Erik Heipt, the lawyer representing Mr. Thomas’s estate, said in an interview on Monday that Mr. Thomas, 38, had bipolar disorder, and that “he was not operating in a world of reality” when he was jailed.

 

“He needed mental health treatment, but instead of the jail treating his very serious mental health needs, they responded by punishing him for acting out,” he said. “They treated his mental illness as a behavioral problem and disciplined him.”

Mr. Thomas was arrested on April 15, 2016, on charges that he shot a man and later fired two gunshots inside the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

He was placed in a cell at the Milwaukee County Jail with no mattress, blanket or pillow, Mr. Heipt said. There was a toilet, but it wouldn’t flush after the water was turned off, he said.

Mr. Thomas was not given drinks with his food, which was an unsavory, brick-shaped dish called “Nutraloaf” that some states have banned. He did not eat the meals and lost at least 30 pounds, Mr. Heipt said.

While other inmates told correction officers that Mr. Thomas needed water, Mr. Thomas could not advocate this himself, Mr. Heipt said. On April 24, Mr. Thomas was found dead on the floor of his cell.

 

“Inmates are at the mercy of their jailers for basic life-sustaining necessities like water, food and medical care,” a court filing signed by Kurt Benkley, an assistant district attorney, said in March. “When a mentally ill inmate, like Mr. Thomas, is locked in solitary confinement without access to water, his life is totally in his jailers’ hands.”

The sheriff’s office did not respond to messages on Tuesday seeking comment.

Mr. Benkley said at the opening of the inquest on Monday that video showed three officers turning off the water in Mr. Thomas’s cell as punishment for flooding another cell, The Journal Sentinel reported. The officers did not notify supervisors or document the cutoff, Mr. Benkley said.

“This order to shut off Mr. Thomas’s water was highly irregular and contrary to standard operating procedure in the jail,” the assistant district attorney said, according to the newspaper.

Two correction officers who testified on Monday said they were unaware that the water in Mr. Thomas’s cell had been turned off, according to Fox 6, a Milwaukee television station.

Mr. Heipt said he planned to file a federal civil rights case on behalf of Mr. Thomas’s estate, and one of Mr. Thomas’s children has filed a separate federal civil suit against Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County and his staff. Mr. Clarke gained national prominence last year as one of President Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters in law enforcement, delivering a speech at the Republican National Convention in which he declared, “Blue lives matter.”

Mr. Heipt praised the district attorney’s office for “really digging deeply into this,” which he described as unusual for abuse that’s reported behind bars. Families who believe their loved ones were abused often have trouble getting prosecutions, and typically rely more on the civil court system, where they can obtain monetary damages, he said.

While public interest in police shootings has grown in recent years, abuse in the prison system is more likely to remain hidden from the public, he said. That’s partly because police shootings in public spaces are often captured by videos that go viral and stoke widespread calls for justice, he said.

“That type of evidence doesn’t always exist in jail-related deaths, and so the people are often not demanding the same level of accountability,” Mr. Heipt said. “These things are often poorly investigated and get swept under the rug, and the citizens don’t even know it’s happening.”

CONTINUE READING…

"Gentlemen, in order to produce marked changes in behavior and attitude it is necessary to weaken, undermine or remove the support systems…"

(The following is an excerpt from a blog that I ran across on WordPress that I believe is certainly worth noticing, SK)

gitmo

“Gentlemen, in order to produce marked changes in behavior and attitude it is necessary to weaken, undermine or remove the support systems of the old patterns of behavior and the old attitudes.  Because most of these supports are the face to face confirmation of present behavior and attitudes, which are provided to those with whom close emotional ties exist, it is therefore essential to eradicate those emotional bonds.  This can be done either by removing the individual physically and preventing any communication with those whom he cares about or by proving to him, the prisoner, that those whom he respects are not worthy of it and indeed should be actively distrusted.”  -Dr. Edgar Schein, Sept. 18, 1962

Dr. Schein then presented to the assembled group a literary of suggestions and tactics designed to attain “behavioral modifications” desirable by prison officials to control the thinking patterns of its incarcerated populace and to curtail or reduce an appetite for cultural or political aspirations.  These 24 accumulous and widely implemented tactics & maneuvers are set out below:

1.  the physical removal of prisoners to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or seriously weaken close emotional ties.
2.  identify and segregate all natural leaders.
3.  use of cooperative prisoners as leaders.
4.  prohibition of group activities not in line with brainwashing objectives.
5.  spying on prisoners and reporting back private materials.
6.  manipulating prisoners into making written statements which are then shown to others.
7.  exploitation of opportunist and informers.
8.  convincing prisoners that they can trust no other prisoner.
9.  treating those who are willing to cooperate in a far more lenient way than those who are not.
10.  punishing those who show uncooperative attitudes.
11.  systematic withholding of mail and other correspondence.
12.  preventing contact with anyone non-sympathetic  to the method of treatment and regimen of the captive populace.
13.  disorganization of all group standards among prisoners.
14.  building a group conviction among the prisoners that they have been abandoned by, and totally isolated from their social order.
15.  undermining all emotional support.
16.  preventing prisoners from communicating with family and supporters regarding the conditions of their confinement,
17.  making available and permitting access to only those publications and books that contain materials which are neutral to, or supportive of the desired new attitude.
18.  placing individuals into new and ambiguous situations for which the standards and rules and policies are deliberately kept unclear and then putting pressure on the prisoner to conform to what is desired in order to win favor and a reprieve from the pressure.
19.  placing the prisoner whose will power has been severely weakened or eroded into a soft living environment with others who are further advanced in their brainwashing reform who’s job is to influence the teetering prisoner to give up and assimilate into the desired behavior.
20.  using techniques of character invalidation, i.e., humiliations, revilements, shouting, isolation; to promote sensory deprivation, to induce feelings of guilt, fear, and suggestibility.
21.  meeting all insincere attempts to conform with the desired thought patterns with renewed hostility.
22.  repeatedly pointing out to the prisoner that those prisoners whom he respects as a leader and example of strength is not living up to the values and militant principles that he espouses.  supplanting the thought that all other prisoners are hypocrites and liars.
23.  rewards for submission and subservient attitudes which embrace the brainwashing objectives by providing praise and emotional support to those who embrace the desired behavior(brainwashing) which reinforces the new attitudes.
24.  making sure that if a once militant prisoner is ever revealed as being a snitch or a homosexual, that all prisoners learn of his disgrace in order to create doubt and misgivings in the environment.  Creating false rumor, character assassination on a militant prisoner.

CONTINUE READING…

MotherJones.Com "My four months as a private prison guard", by Shane Bauer

Have you ever had a riot?” I ask a recruiter from a prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
“The last riot we had was two years ago,” he says over the phone.
“Yeah, but that was with the Puerto Ricans!” says a woman’s voice, cutting in. “We got rid of them.”
“When can you start?” the man asks.
I tell him I need to think it over.

I take a breath. Am I really going to become a prison guard? Now that it might actually happen, it feels scary and a bit extreme.

Read Why Our Reporter Worked at a Prison

From the editor: Why we sent a reporter to work as a private prison guard

I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation’s 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive. Their records often aren’t subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? I keep coming back to this question: Is there any other way to see what really happens inside a private prison?

 

CONTINUE READING….

Ex-judge urges Obama to commute harsh sentence he was forced to give

https://i2.wp.com/www.thecannabist.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/mandatory-sentence-Weldon-Angelos-federal-judge-paul-cassell-800x496.jpg

A former federal judge in Utah is asking President Barack Obama to commute the sentence for Weldon Angelos, a music producer who was jailed in 2004. Pictured: In this Nov. 15, 2005 file photo, members of Safer Choice stand in protest at a Denver federal courthouse, where the court was hearing an appeal of Angelos’ conviction. (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press file)

 

Ex-judge urges Obama to commute harsh sentence he was forced to give

Weldon Angelos prison sentence: A former federal judge says the 55-year drug sentence he had to hand down is ‘unjust, cruel and irrational’ for a nonviolent offender who was subject to a lengthy prison term for bringing a gun to marijuana deals

Published: Feb 10, 2016, 5:20 pm Comments (6)

By Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — A former federal judge who gave a Utah music producer 55 years in prison for bringing a gun to marijuana deals asked the president to commute the sentence Tuesday, the latest appeal in a case held up as an example of problems with mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Paul Cassell, now a law professor, said in a clemency petition letter that he was deeply troubled by the lengthy sentence he was forced to hand down in 2004 to Weldon Angelos, then a 24-year-old father of three.

The sentence he called “unjust, cruel, and even irrational” was the main reason Cassell stepped down from the bench after five years. Angelos got a longer prison term than people convicted of crimes such as kidnapping, rape and second-degree murder, Cassell said.

“When the sentence for actual violence inflicted on a victim is dwarfed by a sentence for carrying guns to several drug deals, the implicit message to victims is that their pain and suffering counts for less than some abstract ‘war on drugs,’” the former judge wrote.

Angelos likely would not face such a harsh sentence today, Cassell said. President Barack Obama has pushed for the reduction or outright elimination of severe mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders. The White House did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.

Angelos founded Extravagant Records in Utah, producing hip-hop and rap music. He had no criminal record before he was convicted of selling $350 worth of marijuana to a police informant three times.

Prosecutors said he was a gang member who carried a gun during two of those deals, though he was not accused of using or showing a weapon. Angelos denied being in a gang and having a firearm, but police found several guns while searching his apartment.

He was convicted in federal court of 16 counts of drug trafficking, weapons possession and money laundering.

The penalty for possessing firearms during a drug transaction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for the first offense and 25 years for each subsequent deal. The federal system does not have parole.

It’s not the first time the president has been urged to commute Angelos’ sentence. In 2013, more than 100 high-profile figures petitioned the White House, including an ex-FBI director, prosecutors and celebrities.

Politicians such as Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy also have said the punishment didn’t fit the crime. The conservative billionaire Koch brothers have also taken notice of the case in their push for sentencing reform.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah declined to comment on the case. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Lund said in 2004: “This sends the message that people who engage in armed drug dealing are going to face very serious consequences.”

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the sentence, and the U.S. Supreme Court has denied Angelos’ petition for a hearing.

Angelos, now 36, has served more than 12 years in prison, and a presidential commutation is his only option.

His sister, Lisa Angelos, said the clemency letter is a “huge” step that she hopes is a turning point. Weldon Angelos has spent his time in a prison in California earning a business degree, working in the institution’s dental lab and tutoring others, she said.

The expense of traveling there makes it hard for his family to visit, and he recently saw his sons, now 17 and 19, for the first time in years, his sister said.

“He’s missing out on basically their entire lives,” Lisa Angelos said.

CONTINUE READING…

RELATED STORY: 

Jeff Mizanskey, sentenced to life for pot, freed from Missouri prison