If you needed more proof that America’s drug laws are insanely punitive and racist, here it is: A Jamaican-born 46-year-old black musician named Patrick Beadle was just convicted of drug trafficking in Mississippi and sentenced to an eight-year prison sentence. This punishment would be harsh and insane even with solid proof that Beadle was a drug trafficker, and I want to make that clear—nobody who gets caught dealing marijuana should go to jail, especially not for that long.
But in Beadle’s case, the conviction was even more egregious for two reasons:
1. The marijuana was bought legally in Oregon, where Beadle bought it with a medical card.
2. There were 2.89 pounds in his possession, but no money, no measuring scale, and no other paraphernalia. In other words, absolutely nothing to prove that he was a drug trafficker.
This is utter madness, but if you’re one of the “rules are rules!” types, you will find your justification in Mississippi law, as the Clarion Ledger reported:
Prosecutors admitted there was no evidence to prove Beadle was trafficking in drugs other than the amount of marijuana, 2.89 pounds, and that it was concealed in his vehicle.
Chapman departed from giving Beadle the 10 to 40 years under the drug trafficking law, but he wouldn’t reduce it to simple possession because he said the jury convicted Beadle under the drug trafficking law.
Additionally, he won’t get any kind of reduced sentence or time off for good behavior, because this particular law “doesn’t allow for parole or probation.”
Beadle was stopped for allegedly crossing over a fog line. You’re never going to believe this, but this particular Mississippi county was sued earlier this year by the ACLU on behalf of black residents because of racial bias in police stops.
The sentencing was delayed in late September because the judge needed more time, but clearly the extra weeks didn’t help him come to a decision the resembled justice. He could have gone with a lesser sentence of “simple possession,” but he would not:
“But he has been found guilty of trafficking,” said Chapman, who is retiring at the end of the year. “And that’s what the state chose to prosecute him for. That’s what a jury of 12 good Madison County citizens found him guilty of, and I believe my sentence should be in line with those findings of the jury. So he is being sentenced not for simple possession but for trafficking in controlled substances.”
Beadle plans to appeal.