'No One Wants to Say This Law is Wrong' 

'No One Wants to Say This Law is Wrong' 
Posted by CN Staff on August 09, 2002 at 09:52:02 PT
By Duncan Campbell in Atwater, California
Source: Guardian Unlimited
Steven Treleavan, dressed in a beige prison jump suit, is sitting alone in the visiting room of Atwater, a new US penitentiary which lies past breeding stables and farmhouses down a dusty country road in central California. This is a high security lock-up where 900 of the country's supposedly most dangerous criminals are housed and Treleavan will be inside this or other institutions for a total of 20 years. His offence? Growing marijuana to send to his HIV-positive brother and other Aids-affected Vietnam veterans. 
Treleavan, 46 now, was born and bred in LA. Like many of his contemporaries he smoked marijuana and dealt a little. In 1981, he was convicted of marijuana possession and decided on a new life in the healthier climes of Idaho. He started his own construction company, married, had a son and became a local soccer coach. His older brother, a Vietnam veteran, was taking hard drugs in Arizona and was diagnosed HIV-positive. As marijuana alleviates some symptoms of Aids-related illnesses and stimulates appetite, he contacted Steven and asked if he knew of any way of getting a regular supply. As it happened, a friend of Treleavan had recently suggested growing their own: Treleavan would supply the land and they would split the crop. In the woods near Sandpoint, Idaho, they built a shed for growing the illicit crop, buried it and placed a garage on top of it. Treleavan sent all of his share of the crop to his brother who sold it on to other veterans suffering from Aids. But in 1992, a deputy sheriff whose son had done some wood-cutting work for Treleavan became suspicious about the property and alerted local narcotics officers. Treleavan and his two friends were arrested. Their chosen method of production had been growing thousands of very small plants which weighed about 7g each (a quarter of an ounce) but by the federal method of calculating, each plant is assessed, regardless of its true weight, at 1,000g (more than 2lb). Treleavan was thus charged with producing 8,000lb of marijuana when, in fact, he personally was responsible for 27lb. Because of his 1981 possession conviction, the mandatory minimum of 10 years was doubled and he was jailed for 20 years. His brother, deprived of his supply, lost 23kg (50lb) in weight and was dead within the year. "I'm not trying to say that I was doing something I didn't know was wrong," said Treleavan. "But I never in a million years thought anyone could do this time for doing pot." Under Idaho state law, he would have faced two to three years inside but because the US government is anxious to prosecute as many "major" drug dealers as it can as part of the "war on drugs", he was charged under the much more punitive federal laws. "I love this country," said Treleavan, who talks with pride about his son who is now a college soccer star, "but this government just sucks - it's corrupt, it's evil. Maybe I'm a conspiracy theorist but I think there may be a lot of big money with the alcohol companies behind the status quo. And they've built a lot of new prisons and they have to keep them full. "About 90% of all drugs arrests are for marijuana so if they decriminalise it, they knock the legs out of the war on drugs. Some of the sentences are just insane, people doing life for marijuana. I have met one Argentinian who is doing 500 years for money-laundering." Treleavan believes that many politicians privately oppose the punitive nature of the laws on marijuana: "but no one wants to stand up and say it in case they're accused of being soft on drugs." The ads that link marijuana use to support for terrorism make his "blood boil". Treleavan prefixes his prison number with the letters 'PoW' when he writes to people outside. "One hundred years from now they're going to look back and say 'what the hell were these people thinking?' but we've got to live through it all." Small-time crooks, big-time sentences  Douglas Gray, a roofing contractor, was jailed for life in July 1992 for buying a pound of marijuana for himself and friends from a local criminal who had been paid $100 by the local police in Decatur, Alabama, to work as an informer. A Vietnam veteran and father, Gray had not been in trouble with the police for 13 years and had never committed any offence serious enough for jail. Because the amount of marijuana he purchased was enough to make him a dealer, he was jailed for life without parole. His wife attempted suicide after his sentence. John Casali from Humboldt County, California, was arrested in 1992 for growing marijuana on private land. He was jailed for 10 years although it was a first offence because of a mandatory minimum sentence policy for which the judge apologised. The judge told him: "This is one of the most difficult sentencings I've had... I would like nothing better than to give you a lower sentence." Gloria van Winkle was jailed for life in July 1992. She had been arrested by an undercover police officer with one sixteenth an ounce of crack cocaine. Jailed under a three strikes law, she became the only non-violent female offender serving a life sentence in Kansas. The prosecution said that they believed a drug ring was being formed in the area and police wanted to stamp it out. She was offered the drug by the undercover officer. Her lawyer argued that the government "created the crime and orchestrated it from start to finish". Note: 20 years for man who grew pot for his sick brother. Newshawk: Reed ThayerSource: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Duncan Campbell in Atwater, CaliforniaPublished: Thursday, August 8, 2002Copyright: 2002 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: letters Articles & Web Site:CRRH Video Link - John Stossel With Marijuana Tars Drug Takers with Aiding Terrorists Stossel Takes on the Drug War 
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Comment #2 posted by dimebag on August 09, 2002 at 14:05:36 PT
Im not proud to Call myself American.
We put non-violent offenders in jail for Life? I have never heard of such perposterousness // What happens if Marijuana Becomes Legal, do all the offenders get to leave prison?I guess If you cant do the Time dont do the C..... well its not a crime, at least you dont feel it is.Our society is due for another civil war.Dimebag.
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Comment #1 posted by JHarshaw on August 09, 2002 at 11:05:58 PT
Soooo glad to be Canadian.At least for today.Peace and Pot.
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