Home Politics Brittney Griner’s 9.5-Year Sentence Is Harsh Even By Russian Standards

Brittney Griner’s 9.5-Year Sentence Is Harsh Even By Russian Standards

by WDC News 6 Staff

Brittney Griner was sentenced to 9.5 years in a Russian penal colony on Thursday. The WNBA participant was detained on February 17 after officers reportedly discovered cannabis oil cartridges and vape pens in her baggage whereas touring by a Moscow airport. Griner’s attorneys introduced that they’d enchantment her sentence.

“This [verdict] contradicts the present authorized observe. Making an allowance for the quantity of the substance (to not point out the defects of the experience) and the plea, the decision is unreasonable,” Griner’s attorneys mentioned in a assertion obtained by CNN. “We will definitely file an enchantment.” 

Griner’s arrest was probably politically motivated, and her unusually lengthy sentence could also be as effectively. Regardless of Griner’s comparatively minor offense, she obtained a far longer sentence than different Russian offenders, only some months from the utmost potential sentence of 10 years. Griner’s attorneys have expressed disappointment and outrage over the sentence, noting that the typical sentence for low-level drug possession in Russia is round 5 years, not 9. 

“As authorized professionals, we imagine that the courtroom must be honest to everybody no matter nationality,” they mentioned. “The courtroom utterly ignored all of the proof of the protection, and most significantly, the responsible plea.” 

Whether or not Griner will spend over 9 years in a jail camp or be house along with her household in just a few months is unclear. What is evident is that Russia’s probably politically motivated arrest and imprisonment of a outstanding American athlete is having its supposed impact—she is the right bargaining chip to safe the discharge of Russians held in U.S. prisons.

The Biden administration declared Griner “wrongfully detained” in Could and introduced their provide of a prisoner alternate in July. In accordance with CNN, U.S. officers provided to launch weapons trafficker Viktor Bout in alternate for Griner and Paul Whelan, one other U.S. citizen imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on espionage expenses. Nonetheless, in accordance with Bloomberg, Russian officers are unlikely to conform to a proposal until they’ll safe the discharge of two Russian prisoners.

Additional, Russian officers have warned the Biden administration towards public dialogue of prisoner alternate affords. “They’ve determined for some cause to unravel these issues by the megaphone methodology. This isn’t how they’re solved,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned in Moscow. These swaps won’t ever occur if we begin discussing any nuances of the alternate within the press.” Friday morning, U.S. and Russian diplomats introduced their intention to start extra formal talks to succeed in a prisoner alternate deal. Nonetheless, it’s unclear how probably it’s that Griner’s launch will likely be efficiently negotiated.

As U.S. officers categorical outrage over the case, drug coverage advocates notice how Griner’s sentence highlights the cruelty of not solely the Russian justice system however the American justice system as effectively. “Whereas many Individuals are understandably distressed that an American citizen could possibly be held in a international jail for easy possession of a small quantity of marijuana reflecting private use, we should always do not forget that 1000’s of individuals have been imprisoned for a similar offense proper right here in America,” says Geoffrey Lawrence, the managing director of drug coverage at Cause Basis, which publishes this web site. He tells Cause, “In actual fact, if Ms. Griner had been caught in a Nationwide Park with the identical quantity of marijuana, federal regulation would require her to face a minimal penalty of $1,000 plus as much as one yr in federal jail.”

A number of states commonly give multiyear sentences for drug possession. Final yr, the Mississippi State Supreme Courtroom upheld the sentencing of 1 38-year-old man to life in jail for 1.5 ounces of marijuana below a “routine offender” regulation. As Cause‘s Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote: “Marijuana possession in Mississippi is all the time unlawful with no prescription—however not a life-in-prison offense. But as a result of Russell made that preliminary mistake greater than a decade earlier, he is now sentenced to spend the remainder of his life in jail for one thing that different Mississippians would possibly get sentenced to 1 yr for, and Individuals in lots of different locations should buy legally in state-sanctioned shops.”

Nonetheless, U.S. penalties are typically far more lenient than Russia’s with regards to drug legal guidelines. As Cause’s Jacob Sullum wrote, “Such penalties are extreme in comparison with none in any respect, after all, and even a misdemeanor conviction can carry ancillary penalties extra consequential than the sentence itself.” He continued, “However in comparison with the state of affairs previous to the Seventies, when states routinely handled marijuana possession as a felony, the present regime appears delicate, and it actually seems enlightened in comparison with Russia’s method.”

For now, Griner’s destiny stays to be seen, although additional detainment for no less than just a few extra months appears probably. If that’s the case, she in the end could find yourself serving a lot much less time in Russian custody than some, although actually not most, Individuals serve in jail for related situations of drug possession.


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