Crime and Punishment in the ‘Free World’

There’s much talk of reforming the criminal justice system: libertarian-ish
GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul is making the unfairness of sentences
that have a disparate impact on minorities a major theme of his campaign, which
is all to the good.

But what about a system that has a disparate impact on the innocent?

I’ll bet you didn’t know you can be prosecuted on charges of aiding and abetting
“terrorism” for having the wrong
books
in your library.

Yes, it’s true, as Marcus Dwayne Robertson of Florida found out. Arrested for
gun possession and tax evasion — two victimless crimes in the libertarian law book — prosecutors sought to slap him with “terrorism” charges, based on his
possession of certain apparently forbidden books.

With 10,000 e-books on Robertson’s computer, prosecutors homed in on 20 or
so that not only failed to meet their strict literary standards but also — they
claimed — connected him in some vague way to terrorist organizations. Robertson,
known as Abu Taubah, is an Islamic scholar, and there was never any evidence
introduced that showed the validity of such a connection. It was just a gratuitous
effort to keep him in jail and throw away the key. But this time it didn’t work.
The other day a judge ordered his release and rebuked the government in a memorandum,
averring that federal prosecutors had “not even come close to proving …. Robertson’s
relatively minor income tax fraud was intended to promote a federal crime of
terrorism.” He also noted that he had received hundreds of emails from Pamela
Geller types
demanding that he impose a harsh sentence on Robertson, something
he had never before experienced in all his days on the court.

 

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