When ex-con Edward Young became a suspect in a string of burglaries in Tennessee, the police searched his home. They found seven shot gun shells, and according to federal law, he must now spend 15 years behind bars, Nick Kristof of
The New York Timeswrites.
Under the Armed Career Criminal Act, ex-felons can’t posses guns or ammunition. Even though Young didn’t own a shotgun (or any other weapon) to match the shells, U.S. attorney William Killian prosecuted him anyway. The judge called the case “Dickensian,” but federal law tied his hands. He gave Young 15 years in federal prison.
“This sentence is not so much a punishment for the present crime as it is a punishment for your history of crimes,” Judge Curtis Collier said, according to The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
State authorities eventually dismissed the burglary charges that allowed police to search Young’s home.
Young found the shotgun shells while helping his elderly neighbour sell her dead husband’s belongings.
He then set them aside so his kids wouldn’t find them.
Young, now 43, committed his past crimes — none of which involved a gun — as a young man. After his release in 1996, he married, worked 6 days a week, and raised four children in Texas.
“It wasn’t my intent … I don’t think I deserve to grow up without my family, and I don’t think my family deserves to grow up with me,” Young said, reported the The Times Free Press.
Regardless, according to Kristof’s calculations, the federal government will spend about $US415,000 keeping him in prison for the next 15 years.
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