Africana Studies Final Paper

Topics: Prison, Rockefeller drug laws, Drug control law Pages: 4 (1551 words) Published: February 26, 2013
In order to recognize Elaine Bartlett as a political prisoner or not one must understand the definition of a political prisoner. A political prisoner according to Amnesty International is defined as a, “one who is detained for his or her beliefs, color, sex, ethnic origin, language, or religious creed, regardless of whether the individual has advocated the use of violence and includes those detained without trial or prosecuted as a form of persecution.”(Taubner 1) Political prisoners are typically identified by the way in which they are steered into convictions on the basis of questionable facts so as to protect the public from radicals whose ideas threatened the current notion of democracy. During the time period in which Elaine Bartlett’s crime occurred the United States government was in the heat of its power trip attempting to dismantle all drug operations throughout the United States. They did this by establishing harsher drug laws for individuals carrying an amount exceeding the regulated. Elaine Bartlett spent sixteen years behind bars for her first offense, a drug charge for carrying four ounces of cocaine from Manhattan to Albany, New York. She had never been arrested for anything prior to his crime. Others arrested for drug related charges received three years, yet she gets 20 years to life. Her boyfriend, Nathan received twenty-five years to life and didn’t even carry the drugs on him. Elaine had no prior knowledge of the Rockefeller drugs laws in accordance with carrying that amount of cocaine and inevitably decides to go to trial after to denying a plea bargain and receives the harshest penalty (Gonnerman 57). The Rockefeller drug law established in the 1970s was the deciding factor in the case of Elaine Bartlett case. Elaine’s imprisonment in that sense was not for her political actions but was in fact a direct result of political steps taken by the governor of New York. This made Elaine a political prisoner that was negatively impacted by...
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