When I read an article yesterday by a man named Edwin Rubis, I sat there, shook my head, and asked myself how any government could do such a thing to anyone.
The reason that Rubis’s article caught my attention is captured in the title of his article: “I’m Serving 40 Years in Federal Prison. Here’s a Glimpse Into My World.” That title intrigued me because I have often wondered what daily life is like for prison inmates. Do they sit around all day reading books? Do they work out? Do they have jobs inside the prison? What type of food do they eat? Are they constantly getting harassed by prison guards? Are they raped or beaten up by other inmates?
That “40 Years” in the title of the article also caught my attention. Imagine: 40 years in jail! As a former criminal-defense attorney, I figured that Rubis had most likely been convicted of a serious federal offense, such as bank robbery or kidnapping, perhaps even felony-murder.
Not so. After describing what his daily life in prison is like, Rubis included a tagline at the bottom of his article that stated that he was serving a 40-year jail sentence for a non-violent marijuana offense.
Yes, you read that right! 40 years! For … a … non-violent .. marijuana … offense.
That’s incredible. After all, we’re not talking Turkey or North Korea. We are talking about the United States.
40 years for a non-violent marijuana offense. Just let that sink in. Not heroin. Not cocaine. Not fentanyl. Not opioids. Just marijuana.
What would motivate any federal judge to issue such a horrific jail sentence for a non-violent marijuana offense? I did some online research but I could not find the name of the federal judge who issued that sentence. But whoever he is, he ought to hang his head in shame. In fact, if he’s still serving as a federal judge, he ought to resign his position and return to practicing law. It would be the right thing to do.
My research did reveal that Rubis was convicted in Houston of distribution of marijuana rather than possession.
Ever since the start of the war on drugs, possession of drugs has been considered less grave than distribution of drugs. But that always has been a ridiculous distinction. Both possession and distribution are entirely peaceful acts. Unless one is growing his own marijuana, in order to possess a drug, one must receive it. So, why should the one who is selling or delivering the drug be treated more harshly than one who receives or possesses the drug?
The purpose of meting out high jail sentences to marijuana distributors is to dissuade people from distributing drugs. If people are deterred from distributing drugs, the argument goes, then people won’t be able to consume or possess them.
How’s that working out for you drug warriors, including you federal judges who are convinced that you have the responsibility of helping “win” the war on drugs? I’m sure that that federal judge who meted out that 40-year jail sentence to Rubis figured that he was doing his part to “win” the war on drugs. That’s certainly what federal judges were doing back when I was practicing law on the U.S. Mexico Border back in the 1970s. It’s one thing for a judge in the 1970s to have such a mindset. But how in the world could later judges — and judges today — have that same mindset? Their obtuseness boggles the mind.
Edwin Rubin began serving his jail sentence in 1998. He’s been in jail for some 25 years. For a non-violent marijuana offense. He is set to be released in 2032.
How in the world can the American people permit this drug-war madness to continue? How many more lives must be destroyed before a nationwide crisis of conscience forces federal officials to bring it to an end?