Petitions on the internet are becoming as common as the daisies that bloom along our Midwestern roadways, and I sign many of the ones that make their way to my email in-box. Doing so, I've discovered, helps to generate mountains of junk email - and I always have plenty to read.
I signed one this morning asking a Texas district attorney to behave humanely toward a nineteen-year-old accused of felony pot possession with intent to sell. There are questions about a warrantless police raid on his apartment because they "thought" they smelled marijuana - and about how what they did find was quantified. (The guy had baked marijuana and hash oil into brownies - and the police weighed the finished product and the container it was stored in - coming up with a heavy result that justified a more serious charge.)
Currently the young man faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.
I don't have a problem with people who break laws facing the consequences of their actions, as long as the laws are just, but the American justice system seldom seems to dish out punishments in a fair and even-handed manner. If the young man in this case was baking to sell, then he put himself in a position where he could have caused harm to others. But ten years to life when no actual harm was alleged does seem a tad severe.
It all put me in mind of another Texas case - the one where an extremely drunk sixteen-year-old plowed his vehicle into several people, killing four - and causing serious injury to others. That boy, who had been routinely neglected by his rich parents, had a really good lawyer who got him off with just probation. The lawyer argued an "affluenza" defense, and said that the kid never had to face any consequences in life because his parents always bailed him out of trouble. He never learned that his actions had consequences. Of course, that case reinforced the kid's perception that his actions had little or no consequences.
Based on what little I have read about the brownie baker, his actions had no impact on others - but the affluenza killer generated lifetimes of loss and heartache. Unfortunately, certain Americans of a certain age seem to regard drunk driving (and rape) as "boys will be boys," and any involvement with marijuana as "crazed Charlie Manson druggies."
Here's hoping that the prosecutor and judge in this latest Texas case have both inhaled.