If you're wondering why his name keeps coming up on #cryptotwitter, please read this. It's long but important.
Silk Road was perhaps the first use case for #bitcoin: censorship-resistant internet money for an online market that governments badly wanted to censor.
By September 2013, Silk Road had thousands of drug listings, including for cocaine, heroin, and LSD.
In May 2015, Ross was sentenced to life imprisonment times two, plus 40 years.
But you don't need to think Ross is innocent (or a libertarian hero) to agree it's fundamentally wrong for him to serve a life sentence.
Ross's drug trafficking charge carried a 20-year statutory minimum. By law, he had to serve that long; any more was up to the judge.
He had no criminal record and his goal was never to run an internet drug cartel. He was an idealist who, perhaps wrongly, wanted to advance personal & economic freedom through an open, unrestricted & neutral marketplace.
- describing him as kind, genuine & humble
- telling stories about all the good he had done
- praising his intelligence & bright future
- expressing shock at his conviction & confidence he wouldn't do it again
- most drug sales were for small amounts of marijuana
- the site was *safer* than street deals per @DrugPolicyOrg
- stolen goods & violent content were banned
- Ross wasn't selling any illegal goods himself
The government accused Ross of attempting to pay for the murders of several people who'd allegedly wronged him. His trial did *not* include any of those charges.
Because of a core principle of American justice: each person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, as decided by a jury of their peers.
This is sacred, full stop.
No jury, no trial. No proof beyond a reasonable doubt. No presumption of innocence.
Which means the government convicted Ross of certain (nonviolent) crimes, and then had him sentenced for different, unproven (violent) ones.
This should not be.
The Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Didn't reject it; just left the question unanswered.
Maybe he would've come out like the CEO of Backpage, who was convicted for running a sex trafficking site this year and is already out of jail (on bond awaiting sentencing).
Signing costs you nothing:
He wrote the following in a letter to the judge before his sentencing hearing (bit.ly/2Au94Zn). Read it all, if you have a chance. It's a beautiful and heartbreaking glimpse into his character.
I will do what I can to make up for not being there for the people I love, and to make the world a better place[.]"
I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age. Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel . . . a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker."