Could this be true? Is there more to this story? Here’s a guy, Ferrell Scott, sentenced to life in prison by a federal court in Texas for (like me) possession of in excess of 1000 pounds of marijuana... Yes... you heard me right...
Life in prison for marijuana!
Over 40 indictments were handed down in my federal case in San Diego in 1982 and ‘83. Subsequently, in 1989, ‘92 and ‘93 nearly 60 indictments were handed down in Reno in cases related to mine. All of these cases included charges of Conspiracy to Import/Possess/& Distribute marijuana in excess of 1000 pounds as well as actual Possession of marijuana in excess of 1000 pounds.
Prior to 1987, the adjudication of these cases was primarily left up to a judge’s discretion. However, in 1987 Congress adopted new sentencing guidelines that included minimum mandatory sentences essentially removing judicial discretion and establishing standard sentencing guidelines which required judicial compliance. Prior to 1987 a judge could give a large marijuana distributor any sentence he deemed appropriate based on whatever factors a judge might consider relevant. After the new guidelines were imposed judicial discretion was removed and replaced with standardized sentencing based on set Congressional criteria; i.e., 1st offense, 10 years, 2nd offense, 20 years, 3rd offense, 30 years to life in prison.
No one who pled guilty or who went to trial in any of the San Diego or Reno cases that I was involved in received more than 10 years in prison with amounts of marijuana that far exceeded that which Ferrell Scott was convicted of.
I have come to the conclusion that the disparity in sentencing between myself and someone like Ferrell Scott is that I was convicted in federal court in California. Scott, in federal court in Texas. I had no prior convictions. Scott had three strikes... the two priors (also in Texas) were for minor (although felony) marijuana infractions plus the new conspiracy, money laundering and related charges.
I had the advantage of having money and a support system to fight the government. Ferrell was indigent. I had no violent behavior in my past and as far as I can tell neither did Ferrell Scott. I was sentenced under the old sentencing guidelines and Ferrell under the 1987 much more draconian new sentencing guidelines, however so were all of the others in the related Reno cases).