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Thread: Man got life in prison for smoking pot!

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    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    Default Man got life in prison for smoking pot!

    Feature: Clamor Grows for Freedom for Texas Marijuana Prisoner Tyrone Brown

    In 1990, Tyrone Brown, then 17 years old, took part in a $2 Dallas stickup in which no one was hurt. He got caught, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, and received a sentence of 10 years probation. A few weeks later, he was in court again -- because a drug test detected the presence of marijuana in his urine. For still unexplained reasons, his sentencing judge, Keith Dean, threw the book at him. The 17-year-old was resentenced to life in prison, where he remains to this day.


    But now, thanks to drug reform activists, a Dallas newspaper, a nationally televised investigative journalism program, and outraged citizens across the land, Brown may finally get a second chance. An effort to win a commutation of his sentence from Gov. Rick Perry (R) and the Texas parole board is well underway.

    Despite his efforts to seek redress and freedom, Brown sat unnoticed in the burgeoning Texas prison system for year after year. In desperation, in 2004 Brown sent a letter detailing his plight to The November Coalition, a national drug reform organization that concentrates on drug war prisoners.

    A few months after that -- after verifying Brown's information -- the November Coalition added Brown to the list of drug prisoners on its The Wall web pages, and a few months after that, they got a call from Dallas Morning News reporter Brooks Egerton.

    "We posted his story on The Wall in March 2005, and I heard from Brooks Egerton that fall," said November's Chuck Armsbury. "He couldn't believe this business about getting a life sentence for smoking a joint on probation."


    Last April, Egerton published a story, "Scales of Justice Can Swing Wildly," contrasting Judge Dean's treatment of Brown -- a poor, black teenager -- and John Alexander Wood -- a wealthy, well-connected white man. While Brown got 10-year suspended sentence for the robbery, Wood got a 10-year suspended sentence for murdering a prostitute. When Brown tested positive for pot, Judge Dean sent him to prison for life. When Wood repeatedly tested positive for cocaine and got arrested for cocaine possession, Judge Dean didn't jail him for life. Instead, he let Wood stay a free man and even exempted him from having to take drug tests or meet a probation officer.

    In that article, Judge Dean refused to discuss the two cases, saying he might have to rule on them again. But he told the Morning News that he generally tried to evaluate "the potential danger to the community" and "what, in the long run, is going to be in the best interest of the community and the person themselves."

    According to courthouse observers cited by Egerton, Judge Dean typically let defendants like Brown off with a warning for a positive marijuana test and gave them a couple days in jail for a second violation. "Life in prison for smoking a joint -- that's harsh in any case," said former probation officer Don Ford.


    Egerton's April story not only outraged readers in Texas, it caught the eye of ABC News' 20-20, which aired a program on Brown's case in early November and ran an update on Thanksgiving Day. With the airing of the 20-20 pieces, the outrage went national.


    "After the 20-20 piece aired, a wonderful group of citizens coalesced around justice for Tyrone," said November Coalition executive director Nora Callahan. "People began discussing this on the 20-20 message boards, then they found our web site. We worked with those people to form the group Good Luck, Mr. Brown -- those were Judge Dean's parting words to him -- and now we are working to get his sentence commuted," she told Drug War Chronicle.


    College students and housewives came together to work to free Brown, and so did lawyers. One of them was Florida attorney Charley Douglas. "I saw the ABC 20-20 special and I was stunned by the utter injustice of what occurred in that Texas courtroom," he told the Chronicle. "I knew something had to be done to bring justice to a man who has been denied justice for so many years.


    Douglas was careful to stay on point. "This is about unequal justice, not a campaign against the drug laws," he said. "We have a lot of people interested in drug reform, but we are trying to stay focused on the goal of getting Tyrone out. How does a rich white guy get a slap on the wrist and poor black guy get life in prison for smoking marijuana? It's a tragedy of the American justice system and we are bound and determined to right that wrong."


    Given what has happened since the firestorm broke, that may just happen. The campaign has managed to procure letters from Dallas District Attorney Bill Hill, Sheriff Louie Valdez, and -- just this week -- Judge Dean himself asking for a commutation of sentence. (Judge Dean is now out of office; he was defeated in the November elections.)


    Those letters didn't happen by themselves, said Douglas. "Over Thanksgiving, I spoke with Dallas NAACP head Bob Lydia, and he said we needed to get DA Hill on board, so we launched a letter-writing campaign asking him to do whatever he could to support Mr. Brown's release, and on November 30, he sent a letter to Gov. Perry asking for the commutation process to begin. We're very, very excited about that."


    Lydia reported Monday after meeting with Judge Dean that Dean had promised to seek an end to Brown's imprisonment, but according to the Dallas Morning News, neither Lydia nor the Texas parole board had received anything from him as of Tuesday afternoon.


    Once the parole board gets a commutation request it will consider Brown's case. The board's top lawyer, Laura McElroy, told the Morning News it is not easy to win a commutation without presenting new facts not available to the court or jury at trial, but that she would do what she could. "If the law can be stretched, we'll stretch it," she said, adding that Brown's sentence was the worst example of judicial overreaction to a probation violation she had ever seen. "It's legal, but nobody likes this. Nobody thinks this is fair," she said. "Everybody's really concerned and paying attention to it."


    In the meantime, Tyrone Brown sits in prison. He is not technically a drug war prisoner, but he joins several hundred thousand others who are. In Brown's case the war on drugs was not the cause, but the means for injustice. In those cases of people imprisoned for years or decades on drug charges, the drug war is both cause and means.
    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/...free_him_grows



    More than a slight disparity there.
    More details if anyone wants them: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n512/a09.html?show

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    Elite Member Mariesoleil's Avatar
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    Giving someone life in prison for smoking a joint is retarded. I mean what kid hasn't smoked a joint in their life. I think most of the people I know would be inside for life.
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    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    This country is insane sometimes, well, the people making the rules are at least. They think and they act like they are "protecting" you and others, but they're just plain nuts! The social systems are astonding, and the people running them are even more astonding.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    It's the class/money-based system of "justice" that bothers me, and unfortunately, it exists everywhere to greater and lesser degrees.

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    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    ^ I am getting annoyed with it more and more just about everywhere I go these days. All public systems seem basically dysfunctional, and run by the dysfuncs! I think I need to vent off about some of this, but I just don't know how or where to go about it. lol

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    Elite Member Mr. Authority's Avatar
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    It's the class/money-based system of "justice" that bothers me, and unfortunately, it exists everywhere to greater and lesser degrees.
    Exactly. The teenager got life in prison because he was poor and black, the pot was just an excuse. I can't beleive the judge was so sly in saying that the teen was put in prision for life because he had a greater "danger potentional" to the community more than the rich white guy. Racism and classism at it's worst folks.

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    while pedpohiles are given 6 months if that..what a joke, and how dangerous

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    He's been in there 16 years now? This is horrible...he's missed out so much in life, for something almost the majority of Americans do.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    omg i was just thinking about weed the other day and how ridiculous it is to make a natural plant illegal! Alcohol and cigarettes are the cause of more ppl's death each year than im sure all the year deaths caused from pot since its discovery combined! it really makes me mad; so stupid, ridiculous, ignorant, disgusting, and sad.

    Racism and classism at it's worst folks.
    well yeah its probably true. so sad to see ...

    Last April, Egerton published a story, "Scales of Justice Can Swing Wildly," contrasting Judge Dean's treatment of Brown -- a poor, black teenager -- and John Alexander Wood -- a wealthy, well-connected white man. While Brown got 10-year suspended sentence for the robbery, Wood got a 10-year suspended sentence for murdering a prostitute. When Brown tested positive for pot, Judge Dean sent him to prison for life. When Wood repeatedly tested positive for cocaine and got arrested for cocaine possession, Judge Dean didn't jail him for life. Instead, he let Wood stay a free man and even exempted him from having to take drug tests or meet a probation officer.
    INFURIATING! ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING!

    P.S. I FUCKING HATE TEXAS! I WISH WE'D GIVE IT BACK TO MEXICO!

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    Elite Member crumpet's Avatar
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    For still unexplained reasons

    Yeah, racism is the reason, though. Add that to draconian drug laws and what else do you get? The War on Drugs is a farce and only fools and right wing nut jobs still believe in it. With mandantory sentencing for drug offenses, guess who is getting paroled early to make room for them in prison? Yep: sex offenders, murderers, and other violent criminals, that's who. And the feds act like they are doing us some kind of fucking favor.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    so true crumpet; so fucking insanely infuriatingly true! The 'war on drugs' is a damn conspiracty imo.

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    Elite Member Mel1973's Avatar
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    Well, it's stupid for sure and extreme without any doubt. I was talking with one of my brother's girlfriends yesterday and she had a friend go to jail (in Texas) for assault because she touched a pregnant ladies belly. And said some dumb shit like "Aww how cute, when are you due?". She was a white woman. No, she didn't get life. Not to mention, they were in a bar and this woman is big as a barrel pregnant - kinda surprised they didn't arrest the pregnant lady for abuse, neglect and endangerment due to the secondhand smoke.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by crumpet View Post
    The War on Drugs is a farce and only fools and right wing nut jobs still believe in it. With mandantory sentencing for drug offenses, guess who is getting paroled early to make room for them in prison? Yep: sex offenders, murderers, and other violent criminals, that's who.
    totally..it is so ridiculous

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    Elite Member Mr. Authority's Avatar
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    omg i was just thinking about weed the other day and how ridiculous it is to make a natural plant illegal! Alcohol and cigarettes are the cause of more ppl's death each year than im sure all the year deaths caused from pot since its discovery combined! it really makes me mad; so stupid, ridiculous, ignorant, disgusting, and sad.
    I know why is weed is illegal and cigrettes are'nt, it's because cigrettes are mostly manufactured and the corporations can chug them out for a profit. They can't do that with weed because anyone could grow some in their backyard, so of course if ya can't control it, punish it.

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