Don’t get us wrong. Weldon Angelos is a convicted drug dealer who deserves to pay his debt to society by spending time behind bars - but 55 years? That’s what he got, not because his crime necessarily warrants the time, but because the judge who sentenced him was bound to impose the penalty in accordance with irrational federal mandatory sentencing guidelines.
Angelos is no angel. He twice sold marijuana to a confidential police informant while carrying a pistol in an ankle holster. Because he had a gun, mandatory minimums imposed by Congress kicked in. Federal Judge Paul Cassell said he had no other choice. He gave the 25-year-old father of two a sentence that far exceeds that generally given a convicted hijacker, second-degree murderer or child rapist.
Certainly there is justification for being tough on crime. Strong messages need to be sent to those who violate society’s rules. At what point, though, does the punishment exceed the crime? Even Judge Cassell called the sentence he had to impose “unjust, cruel and even irrational.” That he, a sitting judge, would urge the President to commute the sentence and even call on Congress to change the guidelines speaks volumes.
KSL hopes those with the power to correct the injustice hear the message of the unfairness of the Weldon Angelos case.