Monday, March 10, 2014

 100 Hale Rd. Zanesville, OH. 43701

                                                                                                            March 8, 2014

Honorable Patti B Saris
United States Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle, N.E.
Suite 2-500, South Lobby
Washington, D.C. 20002-8002

                                                                                    Re:  Comments

Dear Judge Saris:

Life for Pot has the focused cause of advocating for sentencing relief for nonviolent drug offenders who have been sentenced to Life without Parole in the Federal System for nonviolent marijuana offenses.  We expand our advocacy to all nonviolent drug offenders who have been sentenced to Life without Parole.

Life without parole for marijuana is a particularly inappropriate sentence in light of the changing attitude toward this drug.  Many states have legalized the use of this plant by various degrees and two states have legalized recreational use.  This situation precipitates a particularly ludicrous dilemma.  If the Justice Department prosecutes individuals in these states that have some degree of legalization, it is defying the will of the residents of the state.  If it does not prosecute individuals violating the Federal prohibition, it makes a mockery of Federal Law. 

It is unfathomable that marijuana is on the Controlled Substance Act Schedule and even more unscientific that it is a Schedule I drug.  It is inappropriate that nonviolent marijuana offenders are being sentenced to die in federal prison chained to a hospital bed for a nonviolent marijuana offense.

I would like to be able to talk about this sentencing relief in a theoretical and rational way describing how a tweak here and a nuance there will show the way toward solving the problem, but on a human level, that is not possible.

We have non-violent federal inmates serving these unconscionable sentences who are in their senior years.  If these laws and sentences are simply parsed and slowly adjusted, it will not speak to a fair and just sentence for these inmates.   Their time is running out and the runway is short.

The decisions for release should not be in the domain of the BOP.  These nonviolent offenders are placed in high security facilities in the federal system on the basis of the length of their sentences.  In spite of years of incarceration without an incident many remain at this security level.  The BOP has no incentive to reduce the security level, and have not demonstrated that they have any interest in other circumstances that would make inmates eligible for relief.

History demonstrates that The Justice Department also needs the inmate population and mandatory sentencing to expand the scope of its authority.  Perhaps attitudes are changing, but our senior inmates cannot wait. 

The only way to restore our faith in mercy and justice is a grand, dramatic, bold suggestion.  It is the right thing to do.

Thank you for your work and for taking time to read these comments.  We trust that you will work toward the restoration of justice in sentencing reform


Beth Curtis
Director  Life for Pot