Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jun 2003
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2003, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: Robert Giese


To the Editor:

I have been incarcerated for 1,661 days for the $20 sale of a controlled 
substance. I was sentenced under the mandatory sentencing laws. This is a 
nonviolent, low-level sale. I do not by any means attempt to minimize my 
offense. From Day One I have admitted guilt to this offense. I told the 
courts that I was not a "drug lord," but rather a drug addict with a drug 

It makes as much sense to keep me locked up for so long and for so much 
money ($32,000 per year, per inmate) as it would to lock up Betty Ford for 
being an alcoholic.

Are we any better off in the "war on drugs" than we were five years ago, 
when I was arrested for $20? How can we expect to keep drugs off the 
streets if we can't even keep drugs out of the prison system?

The "war on drugs" is not working. We should stop pouring money into this 
effort through the long-term warehousing of a drug offender in prison.

I do not wish to be forgotten in the vacuum of corrections. To that end I 
write, that my cry may cease to fall on deaf ears. I believe God will 
perfect that which concerns me. I believe in the sovereignty of American 
law and the fairness of American justice. And so I ask: How much is enough?

Robert Giese, age 33

Sentenced to five to 10 years Orleans Correctional Facility Albion
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