Video-cast with Derrick J Freeman!

It’s been a whirlwind of productive activity for me lately! Between Sick Sad World, starting my new job now that I was finally granted an ID by the state, and the Community Supported Kitchen I help organize every week (not to mention, my social life, which seems to be thriving despite all of these obligations), there really hasn’t been any time in my schedule left over for anything else.

However, after finding out at the last minute that Derrick J and I were in fact not going to be guest-hosting The Angel Clark Show earlier tonight (as we had expected), we took advantage of some of the extra time we were afforded and recorded a brief video podcast about some of today’s news stories.

Topics include the death of Fred Phelps, two incidents of inmate death by neglect while they were serving time in jail, and a recent study put out by the White House claiming that Americans spend roughly $100 billion on illicit drugs annually.  Check it out, if you’d like–hope you enjoy it!

Also, Episode 5 of Sick Sad World, a sister project of Stateless Statements and Peace News Now, is now available ***here*** if you have any interest in that.  Some new blog pieces of mine (of a more humorous nature) are posted on Sick Sad World’s website, as well.


The Latest Trials and Tribulations of Activist Rich Paul, Modern Folk Hero


Activist Rich Paul, Outside of the Cheshire County Courthouse

The remarkable story of jailed New Hampshire marijuana activist Rich Paul has become widely shared and justifiably celebrated in the past year or so since his troubles with the state first began. His story has been diligently covered by a variety of both major and independent news and blog sites, and was most notably featured not just once, but twice among the outlandish and eye-catching stories of the tremendously-popular VICE media group, which could arguably be nicknamed the “front page of the internet.” After refusing to accept the state’s bribes in exchange for pleading guilty to charges of drug trafficking, the heroic activist (who first gained notoriety after starting the public marijuana “4:20 rallies” in New Hampshire) turned down offers of shorter jail-time and other lesser sentences in order to stick to his principles. In fact, he even went so far as to refuse the final plea deal that was offered to him on the day before his trial proceedings began, which would have resulted in his having to spend absolutely no time in jail and an immediate sentencing for an extended period of probation instead. However, selling his own morals out in such a slippery manner and admitting guilt for a peaceful act that had ultimately been his own choice (and which had left no victims in its wake) would have been utterly unthinkable for someone as principled and true to himself as Rich Paul.

(As a side note: I will from here-on continue to refer to him as “Rich,” due to our status as friends who operate on a first-name basis, and because it would seem weird to refer to him as “Paul” or “Rich Paul” for the rest of this article.  Also, I don’t think he’d like it if I did.)

On the contrary, wrongfully condemning oneself to admitting false guilt for having committed an act that is only considered criminal in the eyes of a morally-bankrupt and predatory organization such as the state would have been far more damning for any truly honest person than whatever sentence could be delivered by robe-wearing men in positions of judicial “authority.” Rich is indeed so hardcore about his beliefs that he was willing to risk a sentence of up to 81 years in prison in order to stand up for his actions–and all just for selling medically-harmless products to those who willingly wanted to buy them from him. Since the very beginning of his struggles with the state, he has refused to cooperate with authorities or betray either himself or his associates, even when he was threatened and bribed by FBI agents to wear a microphone into an establishment formerly-known as the Keene Activist Center.  At the time, the “KAC” had been a regular gathering place where a noteworthy group of New Hampshire-based libertarians engaged in social functions of an exclusively peaceful nature.  Unfortunately, the KAC came to find itself under official speculation due to the anti-establishment viewpoints of its members, but the investigation seems to have fizzled out following Rich’s refusal to participate in it.

Rich has remained incarcerated since April 18th, 2013, and is serving his time in the Cheshire County House of Corrections for five drug-related felony charges for which he was sentenced on June 7th (including one conviction for a piece of paper, wrongfully presumed to contain LSD).  However, Rich and his countless supporters argue that his actions never hurt anyone in the first place. His courageous determination to stand up to the unjust drug laws that so many across the nation are beginning to find the courage to speak out against makes him deserving of any drug war activist’s moral support.  However, I should note that my recent investigations into Rich’s well-being have only revealed that he needs support from the activist community now more than ever.

Rich has recently been denied access to the jail’s freshly-enacted “partial release” program by the facility’s superintendent, Richard Van Wickler.  The program was first introduced to the jail’s “eligible” inmates on September 26, 2013, allegedly with the intent to allow prisoners to leave the grounds for extended periods of time.  Under the condition that participants in the program pay $20 a day to wear a bracelet that acts as a tracking device that monitors their every move, those who are approved for the experimental approach to “correction” receive more preferable experiences than simply sitting in jail cells for the duration of their sentences.  However, in the almost two months since the policy was brought into existence at the jail, only a few inmates have ever been approved by Van Wickler (the man who holds the ultimate say over which prisoners are granted access to the program). One such individual, despite having been convicted of embezzlement–a far more serious crime, and one which establishes a very clearly identifiable victim, unlike in that of Rich’s case–was approved for partial release by Van Wickler, but later ultimately denied the grant by the local prosecutor. Van Wickler’s sole justification for letting a thief go, rather than a peaceful merchant, was as follows: “I just don’t think that he [Rich Paul] will stay out of jail.”  It is also interesting to note that among those who have been approved for the program is a fellow marijuana convict.  But such is often the logic used in a system where personal pull holds more sway than honest and upright justice, in terms of right and wrong.


Rich in Action with His Now-Infamous Bullhorn

Following his incarceration, Rich began composing a motion to be presented before the courts as an argument that he was deserving of either a home confinement sentence (rather than outright jail-time), or of being let out on the terms of a work release program.  Shortly after being taken into custody, his progress on the motion was cut short after his keyboard privileges were suddenly denied on the grounds that other inmates in the past had abused such privileges. It was not until Rich was transferred to a new cell block that he regained the use of a keyboard through what seems to have been little more than a bureaucratic clerical error that worked in his favor.  Upon its completion, the motion and its accompanying collection of information were presented to the court by friend and fellow activist Ian Freeman (founder of, a website for which Rich has remained an active contributor, even during his time spent in jail).  The accompanying selection of facts that was submitted with the motion included over 170 pages of marijuana facts and statistics, in addition to the deeply moving and detailed statements Rich had penned in order to address both his existential innocence and personal suffering as a result of having been wrongfully caged for a victimless act.  The motion presented four requests to the courts that could possibly have been granted to him: that he either be released early as a result of the time he had already served, that he be granted home confinement in the event that he were to be denied his request for early release, that he be granted work release in the event that he was denied the request for home confinement, or finally, that he be granted a hearing on the matter if all else had failed.  Both the prosecutor and the judge granted Rich access to either a home confinement or work release program, but superintendent Van Wickler denied him both.

As a result, Rich’s only remaining option is to stay in jail until his upcoming release date, which will be determined by an executive decision based on his “good time” spent in jail. His only other option for an early release would have been a bail motion, which has been denied by the Supreme Court.  Hopefully, the Supreme Court will overturn his conviction during the appeal process (which will begin in January), a decision which may take up to two months before being made.  During the appeal proceedings, Rich’s best hope lies in New Hampshire’s unique and groundbreaking new state law, which authorizes defense attorneys to explain the legal process known as “jury nullification” to members of a jury during the actual court proceedings.  Jury nullification is the avenue through which jurors are legally permitted to determine the outcome of a case, based not only on its facts and circumstances, but also upon their own consciences regarding the very nature of the law itself: it gives individuals the ability to vote “not guilty” on behalf of individuals who are being tried for breaking a law that is altogether immoral.

Ultimately, if even one juror in Rich’s case were to vote “not guilty,” (despite whatever evidence might exist that could legally incriminate him) simply because they felt that marijuana prohibition is wrong as a practice altogether, Rich would legally have to be found innocent.  No other state has ever allowed such an important aspect of the justice system to be clarified in a courtroom before members of a jury, despite the complete legality of the procedure.  In fact, many states have attempted (often successfully) to prosecute jury rights activists for jury tampering upon becoming aware of efforts to educate individual jurors about their rights to vote their conscience during the trial process.


Friends and Supporters Conduct Jury Nullification Outreach for Rich

Until that time comes, however, Rich has remained active, despite his incarceration.  During the course of his time spent in captivity within the Cheshire County House of Corrections (which has been pseudo-affectionately nicknamed the “Keene Spiritual Retreat” by fellow liberty activists), Rich has made efforts to maintain contact with the outside world as a content contributor for the aforementioned website “Free Keene.”  Blogging from time to time about the atrocities he has been forced to undergo throughout the duration of his involuntary stay in the facility, he has certainly shed some light onto the struggles of incarcerated victims of the drug war.  However, Rich and others now suspect that his honest and damning portrayals of the ugly realities of everyday cell-block life might be contributing to the recently-escalating levels of disdain and contempt with which he has been treated as of late.  Since publishing such gut-wrenching articles as, ” ‘House of Corrections’ is House of Horrors for Mentally Ill,” Rich has begun to find himself more and more frequently on the receiving end of a flurry of minor behavioral write-ups, which ultimately could add up to some less-than-trivial consequences.

Another factor in what might ultimately be a case of outright discrimination against Rich by his jailors for political or personal reasons could be his ongoing insistence that he be permitted to exercise his legally-protected religious freedoms.  Rich has repeatedly requested to meet with a clergy member of his faith and personal choice, but has been denied these requests by those holding the keys to his cell.  Following Ian Freeman’s decision to establish the duplex he calls home (which also houses the studio where he records his nightly talk-show, “Free Talk Live,”) as a parsonage for the newly-established Shire Free Church, Rich attempted to receive clergy visits from its ministers.  Van Wickler denied Rich’s requests to approve Wendy French, Freeman himself, or any other member of the Shire Free Church as Rich’s designated religious confidant.  Rich’s main point of contention with Van Wickler’s decision is that it violates his 1st Amendment right to practice the religion of his choice.  Furthermore, Van Wickler has accused the Shire Free Church of having established itself as a religious organization in order to become a so-called “Trojan horse,” attempting to enable its members to gain entry to the jail.  The superintendent has since prohibited henceforth any and all members of the Shire Free Church from receiving a “clergy” approval on his behalf.

The ultimate result of these varying factors is as follows, and could potentially lead to some rather dire consequences in terms of Rich’s maintenance of his “good time,” as well as his track record for personal conduct during his time spent at the correctional facility.  In a worst-case scenario, Rich’s release date could potentially come to be delayed as a result of repeated disciplinary offenses. Presently, both he and those close to him will continue to remain in a state of tension until his long-awaited release, which will hopefully fall between the dates of December 12th-17th, as long as everything goes according to schedule.


Rich During A Previous Arrest for His Activism

During the course of his imprisonment, Rich has been written up a total of six times for various insignificant, petty, and downright cruel reasons.  Each of these six write-ups has resulted in an individual penalty of having his visitation privileges suspended for a full week.  As a result of these seemingly-minor disciplinary actions, Rich has already lost six weeks of visitation time during the course of the seven months he has already spent behind bars.  That’s a month and a half’s worth of time during which he has been denied access to any trusted companionship.  He has had to spend forty-two days alone, locked inside of a cage that comprises just one cell of a gigantic kennel that has been built by the government to contain countless more human beings just like Rich as captives, and far too many for victimless crimes.  It could even be argued that this is a violation of the 8th Amendment’s protections against the use of cruel and unusual punishment, although little can be done at this point to further pursue the matter.

One incident that resulted in such a write-up came about when Rich was asked by another inmate why he was no longer on duty pushing carts to transport items around the jail complex.  When he responded that it was due to a guard’s personal issues with Rich, the guard in question revealed that he had been eavesdropping on the two’s conversation, and subsequently wrote him up for purely personal reasons.  Another incident that could serve to trigger similar trepidations about the true motives for why Rich has been dealt such penalties came about when he was cited for, “exercising on the second deck,” after having absent-mindedly paced the length of four cell-doors’-worth of distance along the jail’s upper level.  Before he could even realize that he had broken any rules, he had already been slapped with the written penalty.  A punishment that was similarly trivial in nature resulted when he was unexpectedly awakened at 5AM to serve a previously-unannounced shift in the jail’s kitchen and was issued another week’s worth of isolation due to, “not moving fast enough,” upon first waking.

Perhaps most outrageous of them all, however, is the citation he most recently received for poor hygiene in the form of wearing “smelly shoes.”  Because of the fact that only the jail is permitted to provide prisoners with their footwear, Rich has repeatedly begged the corrections officers to grant him a fresh pair, yet no initiative was ever taken on the part of the jail’s staff to grant him his conscientious requests.  Needless to say, he has since been granted new shoes by the jail, despite having received them too little, too late, and has again been forced to spend an entire week without any outside visitors, in addition to being issued yet another negative mark on his record of personal behavior.


Cheshire County House of Corrections

Until December 12th-17th (the tentative dates of his release before his appeal trial begins sometime in January of 2014), the only thing that Rich can do right now is to try to bide his time and keep himself out of trouble as much as possible.  Hopefully this will be a possibility for him.  Despite finding himself in a scenario that is so unfairly rigged against him, the best he can hope for is that his record will continue to remain free of too many disciplinary issues and be released according to schedule.  Rich’s birthday is on December 5th, so any cards or messages (or other forms of contact) would be greatly appreciated to help ease the loneliness of spending his birthday in a cage.  Contact information detailing where to send cards and letters, as well as various other means of contact and donations, can be found listed below.  With the best of circumstances and some lucky factors, Rich will be released into the waiting arms of his friends, loved ones, and fellow activists sometime within the next month.

Rich is presently in immediate need of housing provisions for when he is released from jail, preferably within the region of Manchester, New Hampshire.  Anyone who might be able to provide a hero like Rich with a place to stay should reach out to him as soon as possible through one of the contact methods listed below.  Unfortunately, he will likely find himself on probation for up to three years, during which time any residence in which he stays may become subject to random searches by probation officers who seek to keep people like Rich in cages.  As a result, such a risk has made the process of arranging a personal sanctuary for himself to reside once he has been released rather difficult.  He will also be in desperate need of legally-verifiable employment, and any potential leads in that department would also be greatly appreciated at this time, especially given his unfortunate acquisition of felony charges.

Anyone wishing to contact him can find the information necessary for doing so below.  Rich and his friends, loved ones, fellow activists, and followers (including myself) thank you for any and all of your help and support during this difficult time.  Please wish him the best, and reach out to him in any ways that you can if you find the time.  He needs your support, and it’s lonely where he’s being held prisoner right now, so don’t hesitate to drop him a line.  Your gestures will be appreciated far more than you could ever realize, and there is never too much contact with the outside world for someone who is wrongly kept locked inside of a jail cell.

***Note:  Securus Technologies is offering a “holiday special” for at-home visits on their website (link below).  With Rich’s birthday coming up, this is an excellent opportunity to pay him a birthday visit!***

Rich Paul’s Contact/Donation Information:

  • Electronic Donations can be made at:
  • Letters and other additional donations can be sent via the MailToJail service at
  • Personal checks may be made out to Rich Paul and mailed to: Wendy French, 73 Leverett Street, Keene, NH 03431
  • To write to him via traditional “snail-mail,” send addressed envelopes to: Rich Paul, c/o The C.C. H.o.C. , #825 Marlboro Road, Keene NH 03431
  • To schedule an in-person visit, please set up an “on-site video service” account with Securus Technologies at:
  • Anyone who would like to visit, but is unable, and would instead prefer to call Rich can set up an “Advanced Connect” account with Securus Technologies at the website listed above.  Fees may vary.

Drug Cops and Bad Excuses: Could Weed Be Winning the War On Drugs?


Following U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement on Thursday, August 29th, 2013 that the Department of Justice will no longer seek federal prosecution of marijuana dispensaries operating in states where cannabis has been legalized as a medicinal and recreational substance, jackbooted high-ranking members of law enforcement have put their heads together and assembled a backlash statement regarding the decision.

Not even a full day after the Department’s announcement had been made, a letter of dissent concerning the decision was issued to the Department of Justice, signed by the presidents of law enforcement groups including the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the National Narcotics Officers Associations’ Coalition, as well as by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey (also the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association), among several other important figures.  Complaining in rather blatant terms about the Department’s announcement that it will not seek federal prosecution of state-sanctioned dispensaries without prior suspicion of illegal marijuana trafficking, the parties involved in composing the angry statement argued that their motivation for doing so stems predominantly from the way that the recent decision will make enforcing laws and keeping communities safe, “infinitely harder for [our] front-line men and women.”

Going on further in an attempt to defend their stances on the matter, the report’s authors cite the alleged correlations between neighborhood marijuana use and, “community devastation,” “violent crime,” “drugged driving deaths,” “hospital admissions,” “depression,” and “stifled economic productivity,” as additional factors fueling the fires of their lust for the continuation of federally-enforced marijuana prohibition policies.  One such claim made within the text of the letter reads as follows:

“Marijuana use has had devastating effects in our communities, with over 8,000 drugged driving deaths a year, many of which involved marijuana use.  Data from Colorado demonstrate the consequences of relaxed marijuana policies that lead to increased use: fatalities involving drivers testing positive for marijuana increased 114 percent between 2006 and 2011.”

Please note that nowhere in the previous statement is any specific mention made regarding the exact location of “our communities,” and–given the relative formidability in size of the United States as a country–such a bold claim might seek to benefit from even the subtlest hint of factual credibility to back it up.  Similarly misleading is the second sentence of the aforementioned quotation: the statistic being cited makes mention of the fact that drivers had tested positive for marijuana following fatal car accidents, but neglects to address the fact that marijuana can be detectable in the human body for as long as thirty days following its initial consumption.  In other words, just because the drivers tested positive for THC, doesn’t make it safe to assume that they were in fact under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash.  Vapid, factually-incomplete “statistics” such as these are what comprise both this particular letter as well as the body of arguments commonly used to support the illegitimate institution of marijuana prohibition altogether.  To read additional statements of an inconclusive (though incendiary) nature, I encourage you to read the letter for yourself at your leisure.  Here is a link for your convenience.

Of course, the real factors that are driving the disapproval over this announcement by narcotics and law enforcement officers are the economic incentives provided by keeping substances such as marijuana illegal and punishable by law.  It is a fact that the United States of America today holds more individuals behind bars than any other nation in the history of the world, the vast majority of which are incarcerated for non-violent crimes (most notably drug offenses).  The availability and popularity of marijuana on the black market, despite its status as an illicit substance, has managed to do more in terms of generating funding for law enforcement agencies and prisons than perhaps any other contributing factor in U.S. history.  Naturally, agents of the state would prefer to keep things going in such a corrupt direction: the revenue that is raised on an everyday basis in the form of fines and federal prosecution grants in order to combat the use of drugs (specifically marijuana) keeps many local police stations and court systems at a comfortable level of funding via the convenient money-making scheme of legal extortion.

Ending prohibition could result in potential pay cuts or even layoffs for police officers who (without the financial crutch of marijuana penalties to support their corrupt endeavors) may suddenly find themselves unable to steal enough money from taxpayers with drug offenses to cover their own salaries.  Those officers who might be perhaps lacking in the creativity department, unable to falsify traffic incidents in order to raise adequate revenue, for example, might suddenly find themselves back in the unemployment lines and unable to find work due to their lack of any truly valuable productive skills.

As the market for armed thugs ruining lives over a harmless plant begins to diminish, it is likely that so, too, will the financial resources necessary to pay the tremendous bills comprised of the salaries and pensions of men and women who are nothing more than a parasitical clique of roving marauders, preying upon each and every member of the general public.  And while I am no supporter of state regulation of marijuana whatsoever, I must say that it has brought me some level of satisfaction to see individuals like Charles Ramsey and his badge-wearing coterie of goons shaking in their standard-issue police boots, fearful for the pensions that they steal from others through a gigantic scam that has been conducted for nearly a century in this country under the guise of protecting society from a plant that was already harmless to begin with.

Tears of Regret: The Remorse and Apology of a Guilty Cop

A recent case in this week’s news involving the conviction and sentencing of a police officer responsible for slaying an innocent man struck me in such a manner that I felt compelled to share it with whoever might find the story to be of interest.  Former New Orleans police officer Joshua Colclough took the stand on Friday, August 16, and plead guilty to the murder of 20-year-old Wendell Allen during a botched marijuana raid that took place in March of 2012.  Acting on what was described by Claude Kelly (Colclough’s defense attorney) as a “split-second decision,” Colclough fired his weapon at the scantily-clad and unarmed Allen in a move of carelessly excessive haste.  Colclough was subsequently sentenced to four years in prison, but not before he engaged in a tearful and emotional meeting with the family of the man whose life he had taken during a momentary lapse of judgement. 
The meeting, which was recorded by local news agency WVUE-TV, was the sort of exchange that no words could ever appropriately describe.  Allen’s family, despite expressing their justifiable anger at the year-and-a-half-long delay before which Colclough’s gesture of repentance was made, nevertheless offered their stance of forgiveness to Colclough less than a day before his appearance in court.  In a powerful statement, Natasha Allen (mother of the young man who fell victim to Colclough’s trigger-happy tendencies) remarked to the former officer, “What I’m doing for you [offering forgiveness], Mr. Colclough, is what my son would have done for you.”   When Ms. Allen tearfully implored of him as to why he had waited so long to make his apology, Colclough replied, “I wanted to tell you for a very long time how sorry I am.  I am so very sorry.”
Despite these heartfelt moments of sorrowful connection between the two involved parties, the fact remains that a young man will be forevermore absent from this life, snatched away in the blink of an eye by a man acting on behalf of the shiny little badge of police authority (a pitiful excuse for the justification of murder in any context).  To add insult to injury, the raid was apparently marijuana-related, and as such involved the use of violence against peaceful individuals who were guilty of nothing more than the possession of a plant which has become peculiarly unpopular to the government and its agents.  As is so often the case, the only party that brought physical harm to any individual involved was indeed the state itself.  Prior to police arrival, no one had been harmed in any way; once agents of the state became involved, peaceful individuals were made to be the victims of the violent aggression and faulty judgement of its dangerously flighty enforcers.  And all in the name of protecting society from a plant that has been proven to be not only harmless, but even beneficial to human health and industry.  Wendell Allen unfortunately became the scenario’s sole victim that day, and fell victim not only to Officer Colclough, but to the monstrosity of human abuses known today as the war on drugs.
It’s a terrible shame that someone had to die in order for an instance like this to take place, but such an occurrence might make one wonder how many other law enforcement officers out there disguise their shame as a murderer with the illusion of bravado and such trite, collectivist conceits like “civic duty” in order to divert the blame. Generally, they try to justify their violent atrocities with claims that their victims were uncooperative or acted erratically, seemingly posing a threat at the time of the altercation.  The genuine rarity of a humanly raw and honest expression of sorrow such as this is an inspiring (though tragic) display of the inevitably gruesome outcomes of a state-monopolized police force and its willingness to use violence against non-violent “criminals.”  I hope word spreads about this story and reaches the countless men and women still in uniform out there.  Hopefully it will spark some inner dialogue among them about the violent nature of their occupations, and about the needless casualties that are inevitably the everyday outcome of a system that subsists exclusively on violence.

Realization of Oppression: The Bright Side of the Drug War


As the war on drugs rages on, increasing numbers of individuals are finding themselves directly affected by its destructive potential. It’s no secret that the vast majority of prison inmates are presently being held captive for non-violent, drug-related offenses–the practice has managed to feed not only the parasitical racket of the modern jail circuit, but has also fattened the pockets of officials of the highest and lowest of ranks. Judges and officers of law enforcement alike have managed to sustain the funding for their unjust rule through such avenues as the drug war–traffic violations and similarly punishable (though non-violent) discrepancies provide further funding for the perpetuation of these injustices. In fact, it is difficult (if not impossible) to imagine a wealthy and functional state without the generous provisions absorbed forcefully by the unfair and aggressive penalties that it imposes upon peaceful individuals in order to generate revenue and counter its business competition for alcohol sales.

Despite these disheartening conditions, there is, perhaps, some hope that can be brought to light as a result of the perpetuation of such an unjust, oppressive, and downright greedy organization and its intrusive policies. If there is anything to be gained from the massive bureaucratic experiment commonly deemed the “war on drugs”, it is the solace in knowing that should society come to refute any possibility that a victimless action could possibly be considered criminal in nature, the state would assuredly collapse due to its own suddenly-inadequate funding.

This possibility, that the individuals comprising society at large could one day come to embrace the slogan, “No victim, no crime!”, and in doing so reduce state revenue significantly enough to effectively bankrupt it, is what fuels me in my ongoing crusade against the tyranny of government.

That I might live to see the realization of such an ideal is my greatest aspiration. Until then, the best I can do is try to teach myself so that I might teach others the ways of freedom–the exchange of such crucial ideas is the best defense one has against the injustices of a system that perpetuates the irrational and destructive practice of imposing penalties for peaceful and victimless actions.