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Twenty extra years for going to trial

By Warren Wake - Prisoner of the Drug War

In 1989 federal authorities arrested me for a cocaine conspiracy. I was denied bail, and all my assets were confiscated. I was guilty until proven innocent.

After my indictment, I was offered a 7-year sentence in a plea bargain. I had never been in prison before, and 7 years seemed like a lifetime. Frantically I did some legal research. The police violated my constitutional rights numerous times, so I decided to go to trial. If police use improper procedures, such as illegal search warrants, a case can be dismissed. Was I ever wrong! Virtually no one wins in federal court, especially drug defendants. The judge acted more like a prosecutor's assistant. I was found guilty and received a 27-year sentence. Twenty extra years for daring to go to trial!

I decided to appeal my sentence in appellate court. Their purpose is to correct injustices and mistakes of the lower courts, right? Wrong! They are just a rubber-stamp of the trial court. It seems the only stamp they own is "Denied." The realization began to dawn that all the judges belong to the same fraternity.

The next step was the Supreme Court: the ultimate in justice. The most scholarly, moral, and just people of the land, right? Wrong! They don't even want to hear drug cases.

After over two years of the federal court process, I learned that we don't have a justice system, but we do have a political control system.

What most people do not realize is that once it is okay to ignore a drug defendant's constitutional rights, it sets a precedent to ignore all Americans' constitutional rights.

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