I Never Smoked Marijuana — But I’m Serving Life In Prison Over A Marijuana Charge

CESAL: I Never Smoked Marijuana — But I’m Serving Life In Prison Over A Marijuana Charge

By Craig Cesal

Aug 27, 2019

“I sentence you to a term of natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole.”

These were the words I heard just months after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. You see, at that time, the news was filled with theories that drug dealers finance terrorists, and I had just been convicted of my first felony: conspiring to distribute marijuana. This was the newest foray into the “War on Drugs.”

The government never claimed that I bought, sold, or even used marijuana, but rather my business repaired semi-trucks for a company that trafficked marijuana. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, as I didn’t do anything with marijuana. I was wrong, according to the federal court in Gainesville, Georgia. My business, nestled near Chicago, was auctioned by lawyers in Georgia to pay for their services to secure the life sentence, after my home and savings were spent.

Two months ago, recreational marijuana was approved for sale by the Illinois legislature. Some of my business equipment is likely being used again to repair trucks that haul marijuana.

For over 17 years, I have watched robbers, rapists and even murderers come and go from prison. Last year, a guy in my cellblock who killed two federal marshals was paroled after serving 30 years.

I’ve been watching the news, and I’m waiting to see if we prisoners will get the right to vote.

Here at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, the cornerstone, engraved with “A.D. 1937,” reminds me that the prison opened the same year the federal government made marijuana illegal. The construction workers likely used pot while they built the prison. Looking out from my job at the prison factory, where we make blankets for the military, I can see “Death House” — where Timothy McVeigh and others died. He spent less time in federal prison than me, although his current housing is likely worse.

From Cellblock D, a couple of weeks ago before the time I wrote this, John Walker Lindh, the so-called “White Taliban” who shot CIA agents in Afghanistan, went home after serving his 20-year sentence. He came in after me, and with good time credits, served only 17 years.

To my knowledge, he never aided others who schlepped marijuana. Whew, that’s a good thing, or he’d still be here in prison with me. He was convicted of providing aid to terrorists, but for anything related to marijuana.

Prison is intended to teach offenders not to violate the law again, or simply, for those, like me, the judge deemed irredeemable, to teach the public, who may be thinking of something related to marijuana. At times, I scratch my head trying to fathom who is learning what as a result of my sentence. Bradley Manning made WikiLeaks a household word, and President Obama sent him home because he wore a dress. Maxwell Klinger, of “M*A*S*H” fame, had no such luck.

Obama also turned down my clemency request. Just what am I, or anyone else, supposed to learn from my life-for-pot sentence?

The Terre Haute prison abuts the Wabash River, which separates Indiana from Illinois. From the right places, I can see Illinois across the river, where I lived, and where marijuana distribution, and thereby marijuana conspiracy, is encouraged by state tax collectors. Did I merely have bad timing in selling services to marijuana traffickers from my perch in Illinois? Nope, federal DEA agents are still nabbing distributors in Illinois, well, because they still can. Oh, and the money from the marijuana dispensaries likely pay their salaries. Hopefully, I’ll learn my lesson in prison.

I imagine I can learn from the Federal Bureau of Prison’s paycheck collectors charged with caging me. The prison buildings are surrounded by tall fences, razor wire and cameras. No one from the media, from a family, or from an auditor can get in to see what staffers actually do inside the fence. Guards often go days without so much as seeing an inmate, if they even show up for work. Most will spend more years receiving retirement benefits from the job than they spent actually working.

A sentence of life means a sentence until death. Staff are flummoxed trying to discern what to put in the Federal Bureau of Prisons Form for my release date. Death won’t work. It must be a number. The last time I checked, they were writing 2028. Remember, nobody is coming over the fence and razor wire to check on the paperwork. But no release is imminent.

The sentencing judge determined I am a marijuana reprobate. I am thus irredeemable, and unworthy of anything other than final damnation in prison. Murderers are released after 13.4 years on average, according to the Department of Justice, and a terrorist can go home after 17 years. But I am a prisoner of the War on Drugs. There’s no hope for me under existing federal law.

I’ve learned my lesson, and lawmakers should be pushed to learn a lesson. Federal drug laws, especially marijuana laws, are long overdue for reform. The “fix” must also include sensible relief for prisoners of the failed War on Drugs.

Craig Cesal is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in Indiana’s Terre Haute prison for a “marijuana” offense. He co-owned a towing company that recovered and repaired trucks for a rental company, some of which were used by smugglers to transport marijuana. He graduated from Montini High School in Lombard, Illinois in 1977. His daughter, Lauren, has obtained more than 300,000 signatures on a petition calling for clemency.”

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The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Additional Links of Information for Craig Cesal:

https://www.facebook.com/FreeCraigCesal/

https://www.change.org/p/free-my-dad-serving-life-without-parole-for-marijuana

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/12/02/he-got-life-without-parole-for-pot-and-he-was-just-denied-clemency/

http://www.pow420.com/craig_cesal

https://www.civilized.life/articles/marijuana-lifer-craig-cesal/

POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl US Army Captured Afghanistan 6/30/2009

bowe

Diane Gibbons Malanga

    For those who do not know this following information
    POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
    On July 18, 2009, the Taliban released a video showing they had captured Bergdahl. In the video, Bergdahl appeared downcast and frightened. A Department of Defense statement issued on July 19 confirmed that Bergdahl was declared "missing/whereabouts unknown" on July 1, and his status was changed to "missing/captured" on July 3. In the 28-minute video his captors hold up his dog tags to establish the captured man is Bergdahl. Bergdahl gives the date as July 14 and mentions an attack which occurred that day. Accounts of his capture differ. The version offered by Bergdahl, in the video, is that he was captured when he fell behind on a patrol. CNN, in its report, cites both Taliban and U.S. military sources, the former alleging he was ambushed after becoming drunk off base, and the latter denying that claim stating: "The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming (is) not true." A Department of Defense spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander Christine Sidenstricker, said, "I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law."] According to the Associated Press, General Nabi Mullakheil of the Afghan National Police said the capture occurred in Paktika Province. Their other sources inform them that he was captured by a Taliban group led by Maulvi Sangin, who has moved him to Ghazni Province. The Guardian quoted sources who speculated about the increased difficulty of a rescue mission if Bergdahl had been smuggled across the nearby border into Pakistan. CNN described two Pashto-language leaflets the U.S. military was distributing in seeking Bergdahl. One showed a smiling GI shaking hands with Afghan children, with a caption that called him a guest in Afghanistan. The other showed a door being broken down, and threatened that those holding Bergdahl would be hunted down. In December 2009, five months after Bergdahl’s disappearance, the media arm of the Afghan Taliban announced the release of a new video of "a U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan," titled "One of Their People Testified." In the announcement the Taliban did not name the American, but the only U.S. soldier known to be in captivity is Bergdahl. U.S. military officials have been searching for Bergdahl, but it is not publicly known whether he is even being held in Afghanistan or in neighboring Pakistan, an area off-limits to U.S. forces based in Afghanistan. On December 25, another video was released that features Bergdahl in a combat uniform and helmet. He describes his place of birth, deployment to Afghanistan and subsequent capture. He then makes several statements regarding his humane treatment by his captors, contrasting this to the abuses suffered by insurgents in prisons. He finishes by saying that America should not be in Afghanistan and that it is just another Vietnam. On April 7, 2010, the Taliban released a third video of Bergdahl, now with a full head of hair and a beard, pleading for the release of Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo and Bagram. In November 2010, Bergdahl appeared briefly in a fourth video In May 2011, Bergdahl appeared briefly in a fifth video. In December 2011, it was reported that Bergdahl tried to escape three months earlier but was recaptured after three days.