My brother Weldon Angelos, who was on his way to becoming a successful musician--writing and producing songs with artists such as Snoop Dogg and other acclaimed musicians--has been in federal prison for over 12 years. He faces 43 more years. All because he sold small amounts of marijuana and possessed--only possessed, didn't use--a gun at the same time! Even the judge who sentenced Weldon disagreed with the mandatory sentence of 55 years.
The father of two young boys and a daughter, Weldon had never before been in trouble with the law. He was convicted when he was 24 years old of selling small amounts of marijuana to a confidential informant three times. The informant, who was a childhood acquaintance of Weldon, testified that a gun was present (never brandished or used) during two of the pot deals, which were friendly encounters in a store parking lot.
When the police officers presented a warrant for Weldon's arrest, he consented to a search of his home, where officers found some marijuana and three guns, one in a locked brief case and the other two in a locked safe.
The conservative federal judge Paul Cassell, appointed by President George W. Bush, sentenced Weldon to one day in prison on the marijuana charges. But, to the judge's dismay, he had to sentence Weldon to 55 years in prison because Weldon possessed a gun during a drug offense, which was mandatory under federal law, even though Weldon had never before been convicted of a crime.
Judge Cassell called the sentence "cruel, unjust, and even irrational," and "one of those rare cases where the system has malfunctioned." Members of Congress have also publicly decried the injustice of Weldon's sentence, including Senators Rand Paul (R- Ky.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Ut.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.), and over 100 former federal prosecutors and judges joined together to challenge Weldon's outrageous sentence.
Judge Cassell highlighted that Weldon's sentence is far longer than the sentences received for "child rape (11 years)," "second-degree murder (14 years)," and even "aircraft hijacking (24 years)." Had Weldon been prosecuted in state court, the judge noted, Weldon would have served about 2 years in prison.
In 2004, Judge Cassell called upon the President to commute Weldon's unjust sentence. Since then, Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch of Utah, and dozens of prominent celebrities, activists, book authors, legal scholars, business leaders (including Koch Industries), and former elected and appointed government officials have joined Judge Cassell in calling on President Obama to release Weldon from prison. But that hasn't happened yet. After 12 years, Weldon is still in prison. It breaks my heart. My father feared he would die without ever seeing Weldon free from prison. And on January 4, 2015, that's exactly what happen. Our father died without seeing his son free from behind bars.
The Constitution provides the President with the power of commutation to reach a humane, merciful, just result.
Please help us reach that result by signing and sharing this petition.
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