Will Foster’s Fate

The weather over most of the United States this week was mostly sunny, summer. It is hot, the first signs of the end of the season with longer nights and nascent buds. The summer sun is still strong, beating down on sun-bleached land. It is a wonderful time of the year.

This is a time of year when I am normally pretty upbeat, optimistic, fun-loving- but there is a personal consideration that hangs on my shoulders like leaden drapes. Will Foster, my friend for more than 15 years, has been in Sonoma County, CA jail awaiting extradition to Oklahoma for more than 18 months, a year and a half.

His crime was growing a 25 square foot (5’ x 5’) medical garden in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was originally sentenced to 93 years, more than the maximum that the law called for. This was later reduced to only 20 years. He was paroled after 4.5 years and exiled from Oklahoma to serve his probation in California. After 3 years of probation, California declared him rehabilitated, but Oklahoma disagreed and wanted back. Not content with one pound of flesh, they want two. Will’s extradition hearing is on August 18, 2009 at 1:30pm at the Sonoma County Courthouse, 600 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa, CA.

It is important that the courtroom is filled, and if you are able, it is important that you are there, not just as a form of moral support for Will but to show the court that you are not satisfied with this kind of injustice, you think that everyone counts in the United States, no judge should enforce cruel and unusual punishment That he knows he is wrong to sentence an innocent person no matter what the law says.

I hope not, but we may very well be seeing state criminality in action where a person who is innocent in California is being dragged away literally in chains to serve time for treating himself medically. Judge Antollini has an upbeat demeanor on the bench and seems to have good humor about him, and even seems to be a happy person. Of course, that is all from the outside.

I can see that sending a real criminal away to prison for even a short or even a long term wouldn’t really affect him emotionally. A batterer, a gunman, a mugger- society can live without these people. What I don’t understand is how is it that ruining an innocent person’s life doesn’t seem to affect him? A psychologist friend of mine said “Ed, when pain and grief don’t affect the person emotionally, they are capable of being psychopaths, and that all psychopaths are immune to compassion and emotions.”

Maybe this is what the Republicans who oppose Sotomayor were afraid of, that somebody might not just enforce the law but look at the people behind it, and you know, that would be compassion. How terrible that might become, because it might interfere with property rights, police practices, even the entire legal system. I don’t think that the Republicans need fear the new justice, she’s no “flaming liberal”.

Don’t let these little asides detract from the importance of Will’s case, of Will’s life, or Will’s freedom. Meet me in the courtroom so that we can bear witness to the state of justice in California.