Email from Jim Bell
To: Andy Greenberg, Forbes Magazine, firstname.lastname@example.org and copied to the cypherpunks list.
A few days ago, I floated this idea on the Cypherpunks email list. (email@example.com). I think many of the readers of Forbes magazine would be interested in this service. Look up the name, Joseph Nacchio, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/09/30/a-ceo-who-resisted-nsa-spying-is-out-of-prison-and-he-feels-vindicated-by-snowden-leaks/, a CEO who was a victim of the NSA demands on his company (QWEST) 12 years prior to Edward Snowden’s recent leaks on the subject. Below, I suggest that for an approximate $20 million investment per year, the number of federal criminal convictions the government can get can be forced down from 70,000 to about 16,000 per year. Think of the benefits for insider-traders, tax-evaders and such. What about Ladar Levison, operator of ‘Lavabit’, who the government tried to force to reveal encryption keys? Your magazine, Forbes, could greatly assist if it ran, gratis, ads soliciting donations for a project leading from this idea. Could companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Comcast, and many others be induced to donate a total of $20 million per year for this worthy concept?
You may recall that in mid-2011, you contacted me and I informed you of that forged, fake, fraudulent appeal case, 99-30210, out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. I wondered whether you would bother to do anything about that, and on cue, you did not. I thought journalists considered it one of their jobs to reveal government corruption?
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Jim Bell
Sent: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 9:02 PM
Subject: Injustice: Denial of Disservice Attack
“INJUSTICE: DENIAL of DISSERVICE ATTACK”
or, “How to really mess up the opponent, and to do so legally” By Jim Bell, Author of ‘Assassination Politics’.
I spent well over 13 years in prison, and not only was I not guilty of nearly all of the crimes of which I was charged, I was actually a victim of crimes committed by various Federal government employees. Not only was I assaulted on November 25, 1997 by a government stooge and informant, Ryan Thomas Lund, in order to force me to accept a plea agreement in case 97-5270, Tacoma Federal Court, I was also the victim of an amazing forged (falsified; fictitious; fake) appeal case (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, case 99-30210) that was initiated by corrupt government and court employees, and whose pre-April-2000 existence was concealed from me until about June 2003. Naturally, I concluded that something must be done about this.
The current population of United States Federal prisons is approximately 220,000 inmates. (In 1980, that population was about 20,000). Each year, somewhat more than 70,000 new defendants are charged, and the large majority (perhaps 95%) are convicted. Yet, you might be surprised: There are only about 3,500 Federal criminal jury trials in America each year. The reason for the apparent difference is that in the vast majority of such cases, the defendant or defendants accept a plea agreement, which the news media wrongly refers to as a ‘plea bargain’: In reality, it’s not a ‘bargain’ for the criminal defendant, and it certainly isn’t a ‘bargain’ for the American taxpayer. See the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”. It’s actually a financial disaster of the first magnitude, one which the majority of the American population doesn’t know about, and certainly doesn’t understand. But the reason the defendants are motivated to accept those deals is simple: The Feds threaten them with time far greater than what they’ll get if they deal. So, the very large majority of them deal. And so, all of us are poorer as a consequence. The average sentence, we can calculate, is 220,000/70,000, or a bit over 3 years per sentence. (This is one way to calculate an ‘average sentence’, there may be others.)
It costs approximately $35,000 to keep a prisoner in Federal prison for one year. So, for the 220,000 current prisoners, that’s a total cost of about $7.7 billion dollars. If that population could be brought down to the level it was in 1980, or 20,000 prisoners, about $7 billion dollars would be saved. Even better, it would be far harder to extort people, people such as Barrett Brown (journalist), Kim Dotcom (Megaupload), Bradley Manning (Cablegate), Ladar Levinson (operator of Lavabit), Edward Snowden (NSA leaker), Ty Warner (Beanie Babies, just convicted of tax evasion) or (now) Ross William Ulbricht, alleged operator of ‘Silk Road’. And, of course, thousands more that are less well-known. Many of these people have either not committed any crime at all, or even if guilty of something, they shouldn’t be punished to the extent the system would want to do. Or punished at all.
I was pondering this problem in my prison cell one day, and I got yet one more of my ‘awfully wonderful, wonderfully awful’ ideas. (Quote from: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) I was almost as energized, and as enthusiastic, as I was in early 1995, when I got the idea that I later turned into my “Assassination Politics” essay. I thought, what if every Federal defendant could be motivated to refuse to deal, to refuse to accept the deal that’s usually offered. The figure of $5,000 popped into my head. What if every Federal felony criminal defendant were offered money, let’s say $5,000, if they would plead not-guilty (which is their Constitutional right) and to demand a jury trial (which is also their Constitutional right). The current system has trouble putting on 3,500 Federal felony criminal jury trials per year. How would that system increase that number significantly? The number of Federal courtrooms is somewhat fixed, the number of U.S. Attorneys is rather limited as well. And, Federal court time has to be shared with civil cases, too. So, it would be hard to imagine a great increase in the number of Federal criminal jury trials held. If the number of persons convicted could be dropped from 70,000 per year to 4,000 per year, that should save the American taxpayers well over $7 billion per year in prison and jail costs. Well over 90% of Federal prisons would have to shut within 5 years.
How much would this cost? Well, assuming a cost-per-offer of $5,000, and perhaps 4,000 trials per year, the cost would be $20 million per year. For an individual, that’s a lot of money. But for an entire country, that’s peanuts. Yet, it would save the nation $7 billion. In other words, for every dollar offered to a criminal defendant, the savings to the public would be: $7 billion/$20 million = $350.
These estimates are not set in stone. Of course, under this kind of pressure ‘the system’ would tend to allocate its resources, the limited number of courtroom-days available, and would probably select only the most serious cases for prosecution. So, while it’s possible that some residual amount of plea-bargaining would remain, this same pressure would tend to force officials to accept that defendants serve smaller average sentences than they’ve been getting, which of course are already much lower than they’d probably like to get. Even if the resulting average sentence rose to 4 years, the overall population of Federal prisons would drop from 220,000 to about 16,000. (4 years x 4,000 trials/year). This would be a great improvement.
The big question is, “Who would pay for this?”. “Therein lies the rub”, to quote Hamlet. Don’t expect bigtime drug-dealers to donate: Their ability to make money would be thwarted if their products were rendered de-facto legal. However, illegal-drug users would be greatly benefited. The price of their favorite pastime might very well drop by a factor of 5-10, if the likelihood of getting arrested and charged with providing it was drastically lowered. That would surely occur if this system was expanded to include state jurisdiction, which is about 10x larger than the Federal system, and thus a cost 10x higher: $200 million per year.. Another group of people who would benefit would be tax-evaders. The Wikipedia article on “Tax Evasion in the United States” indicates that the approximate money ‘lost’ (and thereby gained by non-payers) is $305 billion in 2010. If only 1/100 of a penny for each dollar thus saved was paid into a fund, that would be $30.5 million, which would be plenty to make sure that Federal tax evasion would be extremely difficult to prosecute. As well as every other Federal crime. Most accountants would see that as a good investment, and should advise their clients accordingly.