25 years to life!

In prison.

For trying to stop your own pain!

Stuff like this article by Jacob Sullum makes me sick beyond words. A guy who medicated himself, for pain, and who refused to plead guilty to being a drug dealer (which he wasn't) is now locked up where he can do society no harm:

[H]e sits in jail in his wheelchair, a subdermal pump delivers a steady, programmed dose of morphine to his spine.

....prosecutors have pursued Paey in three trials. The first ended in a mistrial; the second resulted in a conviction that the judge threw out because of a procedural error; and the third, which ended last month, produced guilty verdicts on 15 charges of drug trafficking, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, and possession of a controlled substance.

Nice work, men!

Not a lone example. It's what passes for "justice" in America. Considering that the prosecutor in this case, Assistant State Attorney Michael Halkitis, wants to be a judge, my attempt at sarcasm (placing the word "justice" in quotes) is pretty lame.

That's why I said I was "sick beyond words," because they can't express my outrage.

I guess that's why I blog.

It's better than medicating my anger.

I am glad to see that some conservatives like Andrew Stuttaford can see the injustice as clearly as Glenn Reynolds.

Those who would imprison their fellow citizens for medicating their pain are without conscience, and it's scary. Those who hurt those for the "crime" of hurting themselves (if that's what medicating pain is), who put them in prison, are guiltier of far more heinous crimes.

They better hope there isn't a hell.

At least the Salem witch trial prosecutors imagined that they were doing the Lord's work.

UPDATE: Prosecutor Halkitis is against "medical necessity" as a drug defense -- even in marijuana cases -- as he believes it's "an excuse to abuse illegal drugs." It's high time voters are made aware of this sort of judicial terrorism, because I think the more Americans know about these mandatory sentences of 25 years to life, the harder it will be to convict anyone.

Not that this is new. Under British law well into Victorian times, criminal penalties were so severe that juries would look for almost any excuse to acquit. These evil laws should be abolished entirely, but until then I'll support any "excuse" that can be placed on the ballot. ("Evil" is a touchy, much-abused word these days, and I am not using it lightly or engaging in hyperbole. If 25-to-life for self-medication isn't evil, then what is?)

Or jury nullification:

The answer the legal establishment gives to charges that prosecutors might misbehave is basically: "trust us." But they don't trust juries, and they haven't given any very persuasive reasons why they're more trustworthy than juries are.
Excellent research on the subject can be found here. (Via Spoons, who argues against the dangers of nullification, and I see his point. But excesses like this demand additional remedies.)

Interestingly enough, even those of a strict law-and-order mindset would do well to consider that severe punishments disincline juries to convict, and create legal chaos; as one legal scholar put it,

[A]s severity increases, certainty decreases.

posted by Eric on 04.24.04 at 11:40 PM


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Just cruising around... To start on a sad (for us) note, Michael Demmons of Discount Blogger is calling it quits to spend more time with his family. I wish him well. We've lost quite a few among our ranks of... [Read More]
Tracked on April 25, 2004 9:49 AM


Blogging to rid the soul of the filth one sees is good for you. Theraputic.

Please visit my friend over at Drunken Monkey Style Blogging. He's told me about blogging, and has me working on a google project.

Musician   ·  April 25, 2004 1:06 AM

Thanks for the kind words, and for visiting!

You didn't give the URL, and I wanted to ask whether this is correct:


Very entertaining blog.

Eric Scheie   ·  April 25, 2004 1:41 AM

In lock-step agreement with everything you said here.

Ghost of a flea   ·  April 25, 2004 9:48 AM

Hi Eric, just stopping by to share the love and tell you that your blog is definitely one of my favourites, on this the most holiest of days, Blog Love-In day!

Rue   ·  April 25, 2004 12:02 PM

Thank you Nick, and thank you Rue!

It means a lot -- especially coming from both of you.

Eric   ·  April 27, 2004 12:55 AM

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