August 17, 2010

Marc Emery: All About Prison and What Comes Next

Marc Emery is a world famous Canadian pot advocate and the founder of Cannabis Culture Magazine. Now that he's been extradited to the use and imprisoned he's using Cannabis Culture as his voice to a community of pro pot advocates that are following his story.

Marc decided to write the complete story of his status as a political prisoner in the US federal prison system: what he does, what it's like, his future prospects at Sea-Tac Federal Detention Center in Seattle and wherever he gets sent after sentencing, and the process of returning to Canada.

This letter was written to be copied and sent to everyone who sends him mail so he doesn't have to write it out repeatedly, but he still writes personal messages along with every letter he sends out.

As of August 20th 2010, I will have been here 92 days. With the 70 days I spent in Canada awaiting extradition, that’s 162 days total time credited to my sentence. In the US prison system an inmate receives 15% off their sentence each year (54 days) in their sentence as a "good conduct time" credit. Of course, the rules can be severe in a US prison, and it takes effort not to be punished with loss of good time or solitary confinement. So, with 162 days in by August 20th, plus 270 days "good time" over 5 years, if I spent every single day of my 5-year sentence in the US system, my release date is mid-June 2014, or 3 years and 9.5 months away.

As a Canadian citizen (a "criminal alien") in the US system, I cannot qualify for designation to a minimum-security "camp" that my offense would normally fit under. I am only permitted in the next level up of security, a "Low". I also cannot get the 12-month sentence reduction American citizens in the system receive for the Residential Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Program (R-DAP), nor do I qualify for the early release to a halfway house six months prior to the end of sentence. However, once transferred to the Canadian Federal Corrections system, I qualify for accelerated parole.

My sentencing is actually September 10th in the Seattle Federal Court of Judge Martinez. The judge, the district attorney and myself, represented by the very able lawyer Richard Troberman, have agreed on a 5-year sentence in a procedure called an 11(c)1(c). It’s pretty well guaranteed, but nothing in a courtroom is really guaranteed so this is as close as it comes. There will be rallies in many cities on the day after my sentencing, September 18th, so stay tuned to and for details and updates.

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