At the age of 24, Aaron was sentenced to three life terms for his role in a cocaine deal. That’s effectively three times the sentence imposed upon Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in 2010. Aaron was a student and football player at Southern University in Baton Rouge. He’d never been arrested. In 1992, he made the mistake of being present for the sale of nine kilograms of cocaine and the conversion of one kilo of coke to crack. Aaron would have earned $1,500 for introducing the buyer and seller. He never actually touched the drugs.
Though his role was minor, Aaron received the longest sentence of anyone involved in the conspiracy when he refused to cooperate with authorities. His case gained national attention in 1999, when he appeared in “Snitch,” a PBS Frontline documentary about prisoners serving long sentences after refusing to turn informant.
This isn’t an accident, or an isolated incident. In order to ensure a constant supply of
slave labor prisoners, the government has introduced both mandatory minimums, and the expectation of plea bargains- god help you if you don’t take the plea they offer. The US Sentencing Commission says, “the value of a mandatory minimum sentence lies not in its imposition, but in its value as a bargaining chip to be given away in return for the resource-saving plea from the defendant to a more leniently sanctioned charge”. Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank, said that, ”the truth is that government officials have deliberately engineered the system to assure that the jury trial system established by the Constitution is seldom used”.
This exemplified a pattern we see over and over today; the subversion of our legal protections through doublethink and ‘reinterpretation’ of long-standing rights. Don’t want to bother with a trial? It’s fine, just pretend that due process doesn’t mean a trial. Annoyed that congress won’t authorize your war? It’s fine, just say it’s not the right “kind of hostilities” so the law doesn’t apply anymore.
You’ll notice in all of these cases, the basic reasoning behind the law isn’t addressed. The executive never mentions why Jefferson and the other founders thought trials-by-peer were so important when it insists it has the right to kill anyone without judicial oversight. The fact that ‘military interventions’ were exactly what the War Powers Act was designed to combat goes unstated. We are a nation ruled by lawyers who are above the law.