My Experience with Plea Bargain Facilitators: A Case for Legalized Cannabis
This post was submitted to us by Earle L. Bailey.
In 1979, I was in a car accident and suffered numerous injuries, including one to my back, which was later diagnosed as spinal stenosis, lumbar arthritis and a bulging disc. I was prescribed demerol to help with the pain, which it did, but I also became addicted. I did not (and do not) like taking any kind of drugs, and I certainly did not like being addicted and suffering the side effects.
I had been using marijuana instead of narcotic pain pills for my back for over ten years. In 2003, I was fairly new to the Bridgeport, CT area and didn’t have a reliable source for the marijuana. I was forced to turn to the street corner dealers and their “nickel bags.” I didn’t much care for having to deal with them, so I finally found a guy who would let me buy “bundles” (25 nickel bags).
Perhaps two or three days after buying a bundle, I was a victim of a “wrong door” drug raid. The upstairs neighbors, crack dealers, had moved out about a week earlier. The police found my marijuana and charged me with “sales,” claiming that one of their informants had made buys from me on two occasions. I never sold to anybody, so I said, “prove it.”
I had to use the “services” of a public defender (also known as a plea bargain facilitator.) I steadfastly demanded to confront this informant in court. Finally, my public defender told me that instead of an informant, they were going to use a statement I had made during the raid. When asked if I sold marijuana, I said, “no. I just smoke with my friends.” BIG mistake! I had unwittingly confessed to distributing marijuana. I would have still fought it, hoping the jury perceived the difference between sharing a joint with friends and selling it on the street corner, but I had cats and nobody to look after them if I went to prison, so I accepted a plea bargain for five years suspended after three years probation.
Because I took a plea, I now have a felony conviction for marijuana sales. You can figure out how that impacts my life.