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Our Runaway Federal Criminal Law

I love wildlife as much as the next guy. And if a species is deemed protected, then I think it’s wrong to hunt that species down, kill it, and eat it. Fines… maybe even probation are warranted.

But effectively a life sentence for serving a rare species of whale? It’s… absurd, and proof that our federal criminal system run by United States Attorneys is out of control.

Scott Greenfield has written about how the prosecution of Aaron Swartz, which has raised so much ire among hackers and computer nerds, is nothing special. The Massachusetts USA Carmen Ortiz who tried to put Aaron Swartz (who committed suicide last month) in jail for 35 years is just a cog in a system of cogs.

He’s, of course, right. The whole system, from outlandish punishments, to outdated discovery rules, to broad prosecutorial discretion, to a drug war run amok, to ambiguous and broadly written statutes, to the concept of “relevant conduct” that allows uncharged activity to be used to enhance punishments, is corrupt and broken.

Threatening to put a guy away for any amount of time, let alone life, for serving whale is insane.

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