Ferrell Scott’s third strike was damning. He had sold marijuana. A mandatory life sentence was a foregone conclusion the morning of his trial. The federal judge and jury were mere formalities. Ferrell’s first two strikes happened twenty years earlier in the late 1980’s when he’d sold less than $100 of drugs and gotten probation. Ferrell Scott’s case didn’t happen in a distant oppressive regime or on the lawless shores of Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of Americans are sentenced to life under federal law Section 851, commonly known as the Federal Three Strikes Drug Law.
Section 851 dangerously gives a federal prosecutor – not the judge or jury – sole power to decide whether a person will spend the rest of their life in prison. Section 851 is particularly dangerous in the hands of an autocratic Administration that is allergic to racial justice and obsessed with law & order.
The Decarceration Collective’s national Stop Section 851! Campaign is in direct response to the Justice Department’s recent announcement that “prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” even in nonviolent drug cases like Ferrell Scott. America is relapsing on its addiction to incarceration. The Stop Section 851! Campaign defends people against the Justice Department’s use of the Federal Three Strikes Drug Law. We resist autocracy and demand a judicial system where no person is permanently banished without access to the courts and Constitution.