The story of Weldon Angelos, recounted by Sasha Abramsky in the new issue of The Nation, speaks volumes about the unfairness of mandatory minimum sentencing.

A rap artist from Salt Lake City, Angelos was ensnared in an undercover marijuana purchase that reeked of entrapment. In 2003, more than a year after he had been arrested, Angelos was found guilty on several counts. Because of mandatory minimum statutes, the presiding judge—a Bush appointee named Paul Cassell—was left with no discretion at sentencing. After asking the prosecuting and defense attorneys to advise him on the constitutionality of the sentence, a distraught Cassell handed down a fifty-five-year term, a punishment he called “unjust, cruel and even irrational.” He urged then-President Bush to pardon the young father of three and right a clear judicial wrong. Bush didn’t pardon him. Neither has President Obama—despite pleas on Angelos’s behalf from several ex-governors, dozens of ex–federal prosecutors and judges, and four US attorneys general.


Sign on to The Nation’s new petition imploring President Obama to rectify this injustice and issue a Presidential pardon to Angelos. After weighing in, share this info with friends, family and your Twitter and Facebook networks.


In an investigative report for The Progressive in 2006, Abramsky detailed the sketchy case against Angelos and made clear the utter travesty of the sentence.


In this video, The Nation’s Liliana Segura explains how mandatory sentencing laws, like the one that put away Angelos for fifty-five years, are regularly sending juveniles to prison for life.

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