And scroll to the bottom to see a report on the announcement of a major shift in federal drug prosecution policy.
This story is shocking and shameful and it is why our government cannot be trusted and why prosecutors cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Everything about this case bespeaks a bureaucratic system that sends its citizens to gulags.
Help a Neighbor. Go To Prison:
IF you want to understand all that is wrong with America’s criminal justice system, take a look at the nightmare experienced by Edward Young.
Young, now 43, was convicted of several burglaries as a young man but then resolved that he would turn his life around. Released from prison in 1996, he married, worked six days a week, and raised four children in Hixson, Tenn.
Then a neighbor died, and his widow, Neva Mumpower, asked Young to help sell her husband’s belongings. He later found, mixed in among them, seven shotgun shells, and he put them aside so that his children wouldn’t find them.
“He was trying to help me out,” Mumpower told me. “My husband was a pack rat, and I was trying to clear things out.”
Then Young became a suspect in burglaries at storage facilities and vehicles in the area, and the police searched his home and found the forgotten shotgun shells as well as some stolen goods. The United States attorney in Chattanooga prosecuted Young under a federal law that bars ex-felons from possessing guns or ammunition. In this case, under the Armed Career Criminal Act, that meant a 15-year minimum sentence.
The United States attorney, William Killian, went after Young — even though none of Young’s past crimes involved a gun, even though Young had no shotgun or other weapon to go with the seven shells, and even though, by all accounts, he had no idea that he was violating the law when he helped Mrs. Mumpower sell her husband’s belongings.
In May, a federal judge, acknowledging that the case was Dickensian but saying that he had no leeway under the law, sentenced Young to serve a minimum of 15 years in federal prison. It didn’t matter that the local authorities eventually dismissed the burglary charges.
Rumpole asks: What kind of government does this to its citizens? Is the country safer? Are the citizens of Chattanooga safer now? What kind of prosecutor does this to a fellow human being and then sleeps at night and can look at himself in the mirror in the morning?
This is disgusting and it makes us sick and deeply ashamed of what we all too frequently boast as the best justice system on earth. The best? Its results are Soviet in nature and there is nothing just about it.
AG Holder to announce new policy to reduce federal drug incarcerations:
The NY Times reports here that today Attorney General Eric Holder will announce at the ABA annual meeting in San Francisco (something, strangely, we've never been invited to) a major shift in DOJ policy on drug prosecutions: Prosecutors will no longer list the amount of drugs in an indictment, giving them and the court the ability to sidestep minimum mandatory sentences.
It's a start, but before we go popping champagne corks, lets see how this plays out.