I vaguely remember hearing about this case a number of years ago but it wasn’t until I read the full story that I was completely floored by the unfairness and complete miscarriage of justice that Ross Ulbricht has suffered.
His sentence is cruel. He is a first-time, non-violent offender who was sentenced to two life sentences plus 40 years. Murderers get less time than that. This is an unbelievably horrible injustice and I’m hoping that you will agree and take a few minutes of your time to sign a petition for clemency. Literally all you have to do is click on this link and sign. Then forward it to everyone you know.
Who is Ross?
“Throughout his life, Ross has demonstrated his kind, generous, caring nature. Ross has been widely-known as peace-loving and compassionate. He has never condoned or inflicted violence. Rather he adheres to the non-aggression principle of “do no harm,” and believes in free personal choice, as long as it doesn’t hurt another. Ross treats everyone he meets respectfully and kindly, regardless of station, age, income.
Ross has always been motivated to help people, not hurt them. He demonstrated this not only before his arrest, but in prison, where he has been a model inmate and benefited fellow inmates by leading math, science, yoga, and Adult Continuing Education classes, tutoring, and helping them earn GEDs and be accepted to college.
Ross is an idealist. He has always cared about bettering the world. He has never been motivated by money or power, but has lived a simple life with modest possessions, dedicating himself to causes he believes in.”
Ross is a man who is very much loved. He had about 100 letters written for him testifying to his exceptional character and integrity.
Think about that – would you be able to get 100 people – 100 – to write letters vouching for your character? I hope I could get maybe 30 or 40 but 100? That speaks volumes. And what they’ve had to say, tells me he has lived his entire life following his beliefs, living a life of compassion and integrity. Even while in jail, numerous prisoners have written on his behalf, and a prison guard told his mother, “I can’t tell you how highly we think of your son.” That is not the norm. In addition, people he hadn’t seen in years have stepped up to contribute bail pledges, defense funds and character letters for Ross.
Read the letters, Ross clearly has had a positive impact on so many people’s lives.
Here are two samples of what people are writing about him:
“Ross is one of those rare lights in the world and one of the best individuals I’ve ever met. I’ve never seen him show malice or anger towards anyone. I don’t know anyone else who treats others with such compassion and respect.” – Brandon Anderson, longtime friend, in letter to the judge
“I’ve spent a hundred hours talking to people who knew Ross over the years, and what I find truly remarkable is that there hasn’t been a single person who disliked him. People have told me he was kind, thoughtful, compassionate, and how he was helpful and caring to everyone, especially to those in society that most people judge and ignore.” – Email to Lyn Ulbricht from author Nick Bilton
What did he do?
Ross Ulbricht is condemned to die in prison for creating an e-commerce website called Silk Road. An entrepreneur passionate about free markets and privacy, he was 26 when he made the site. He was naïve and idealistic, his intent for the website as he told the judge, was “to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices, to pursue their own happiness, however they individually saw fit. [It] turned out to be a naive and costly idea that I deeply regret.”
Ross built the website, he did not sell drugs or illegal items. He was convicted and charged for illegal activity that other people did through his website. Ross believed in the libertarian non-aggression principle, so Silk Road allowed consenting people to voluntarily buy and sell what they chose, as long as no third party was harmed, anonymously. Again, yes, naïve and idealistic.
Ross is now serving his seventh year in prison. He was an idealistic entrepreneur who never intended harm. He has taken responsibility for his mistake and deeply regrets it. He has learned his lesson the hard way and more than paid the price for his mistake. Two life sentences plus 40 years does not fit the crime.
The petition is for clemency, not a pardon. Ross admits he made a mistake, but seven years in prison is more than enough for his crime.
This is an easy act of kindness that you can do today, in less than a minute, to help correct a terrible miscarriage of justice. Sign the petition.
Ross was vilified in the press. The prosecution made him out to be a kingpin or mastermind of the operation, and Ross (who’s entire life was based on non-violence) “was smeared with false, unprosecuted allegations of planning violence that much of the media amplified through inaccurate and sensationalized reporting. These allegations were never charged at trial, never proven, never submitted to, or ruled on by a jury, and eventually dismissed with prejudice.” In addition, there was much misconduct throughout the trial and several officers/detectives went to jail for crimes committed during the investigation. Here’s what a few independent lawyers said:
“There is a lot that went wrong in the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht…Misconduct by agents, inflated allegations, judicial bias, and serious doubts of guilt. It is a good case for the President to look at for commutation.” – Robert E. Barnes, Leading Civil, Criminal and Constitutional Attorney
“Ross William Ulbricht, a first-time offender, received a much harsher sentence than prosecutors sought. The sentence was based on judicial findings related to allegations of serious crimes that not only were never found by a jury but were not even among the charges leveled at trial.” – Heidi Boghosian, Former Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild. Executive Director, A.J. Muste Institute
Read the Whole Story – note this is from the Free Ross site, so yes, I assume is bias, however, it gives facts based on court filings, transcripts, affidavits, judicial rulings, investigative reports, etc. Facts that are not up for debate. They present a very good case of justice run amok. If you want to know more, start here first.
Ross’s entire life speaks for what a decent person he is. He is not dangerous or violent. Yes, he made a mistake, he was young, idealistic and has more than paid the price with 7 years of his life. Read the post he wrote in prison, 5 Keys to Inner Strength from 5 Years in Prison, it’s a great read but also goes to reinforce the amazing person he is.
This has been a hard post to write. I’ve actually cried thinking about the injustice of it, I can’t get Ross out of my mind. I’m thinking about the kind, compassionate, smart, peace-loving man that Ross is and how even in prison he continues to act with the moral strength and integrity that he has his whole life. It’s unbearable to think someone like Ross could spend the rest of his life in jail for making a mistake when he was 26 years old. A mistake that he admits, takes responsibility for and has more than paid for. It’s time for Ross to go free so he can use his intelligence and talents and contribute to our world.
Then be sure to pass it on to everyone you know. It’s time for Ross to go home.
PS – Ross has hundreds of thousands of supporters, from all spectrums of life. Prominent individuals and leaders have voiced support, including from criminal justice reform, technology, blockchain and liberty communities in addition to hundreds of organizations that support freeing Ross. I’ve put some of the quotes below from Ross’s many supporters but there are so many more for you to read.
“A double life sentence with no parole? Such an assault on justice, on top of the irregularities of Ross’s trial, is an assault on all of us. Free Ross Ulbricht.” – Laurence W Reed, President, Emeritus, Foundation for Economic Education
“I have followed Mr. Ulbricht’s case closely and have been struck by a multitude of problematic aspects in it…the sentence that was imposed on this young man with no prior record for all non-violent offenses is especially troubling.” – Arthur Rizer, Director of Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties, R Street Institute
“The current system of judge sentencing…has been abused in this extreme case, wherein the prosecutor was allowed to game the system.” – Joe Miller, GOP Nominee. U.S. Senate, AK
“An entire book could be written on Ross Ulbricht’s takedown,…most articles about his case present false or misleading information.” – Jesse Ventura, Former Governor, Minnesota
“Ross—I’ve signed your petition. You have very clearly been treated unfairly by our criminal justice system and my heart is with you and your family…Terrible to learn that the judge considered pending charges during sentencing that were later dismissed…This is not how our criminal justice system is supposed to work.” – Eric Brakey, Maine Republican Nominee for U.S. Senate, Former Maine State Senator
“The trial was conducted in a manner apparently designed to secure a guilty verdict. Some of the judge’s decisions were baffling to any neutral observer.” – Robert Murphy, Ph.D., Economist. Senior Fellow, Mises Institute
“I am literally astounded at how far a prosecution could go of a man who wanted nothing more than freedom in the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ One would not imagine that injustice and destruction of personal freedom to this extent is even possible in a democratic country. As a member of the European Parliament, Ross Ulbricht has my full support.” – Jiri Mastalka, Member, European Parliament
“Ross Ulbricht’s prosecution shocked me. I’ll never look at justice in America the same way. When I was a schoolboy, we were taught about Soviet show trials where the verdict was decided beforehand by apparatchiks and a trial was staged to legitimize it. I never expected to see such a thing in America… but I did.” – Paul Rosenberg, Author, Engineer, Consultant to NASA and U.S. Military
“A shocking miscarriage of justice.” – Noam Chomsky, Ph.D.
World-Renowned Political Dissident, Professor Emeritus MIT, Author
“…An absolute failure of our courts…The punishment Ross Ulbricht received truly has no place in civil society” – Paul Wright, Executive Director, Human Rights Defense Center
“A sentence almost unheard of…A young first-time offender who was never charged with causing any death or bodily injury.” – Kannon Shanmugam, Head of Supreme Court Practice, Williams & Connolly
“Should Ross Ulbricht’s unduly harsh sentence be left to stand, it would be harmful to both our legal system and the trust that the public places in our courts.” – Gary Johnson, Former Governor, New Mexico
“…one of the worst examples of prosecutorial abuse the United States has suffered yet.” – Catherine Austin Fitts, Assistant Secretary of Housing under President George H.W. Bush
“The Libertarian Party has requested President Trump grant a full pardon to Ross Ulbricht.” – National Libertarian Party
“There is a glaring absence of justice in Ross Ulbricht’s sentence. This must be redressed.” – Terry Cooper, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Public Policy, USC. Public Ethics Expert
“Ross Ulbricht received two life sentences, plus 40 years, in a travesty of a trial.” – Tom Woods, Ph.D., Author, Historian, Political Commentator
“This is a miscarriage of justice pure and simple. Ross Ulbricht made some mistakes, but sentencing him to die in prison for nonviolent crimes where government entrapment played a large role is beyond the pale. We must do better.” – Ilya Shapiro, Director, Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at Cato Institute
“Ross Ulbricht is not someone we need protection from, and certainly not someone who should die in prison. He is an innovative, brilliant entrepreneur who could help our country and contribute greatly…His punishment is undeniably out of proportion.” – Alexander Heid, Leading Computer Security Expert. Chief Resource Officer, SecurityScorecard
“Such a sentence should, at the very least, be reserved for the worst crimes committed by repeat offenders…Ross’s crime is nowhere near that category and his sentence was grossly excessive.” – Shon Hopwood. Law Professor, Georgetown University
“People like Ross should be afforded the opportunity of redemption as soon as possible. For Ross that is now.” – Major Neill Franklin, Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Police Veteran
“Ross received two life sentences for the creation of a website while murderers get away with a few years in prison…We as citizens must take up the causes of individual liberty such as Ross’s incarceration…I will be joining in the effort to convince @realDonaldTrump to issue a pardon.” – Jim Cantrell, Leading Aerospace Engineer. Co-Founder, Vector Launch. Founding Team, SpaceX
Is there someone who inspires you with their kindness? Nominate them for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250.
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Note: the pictures were from the FreeRoss.org website