While violent criminals like the Waukesha Christmas parade attacker are enabled to commit their crimes because of loose bail policies, Americans are being held without a trial or bail because of their non-violent involvement in the January 6th protests.
Jacob Chansley, the so-called “Shaman” protestor with the hat that had the horns on it was sentenced to 41 months in prison, 36 months of probation, and a $100 fine, all for a single non-violent charge. His lengthy sentence is a setback to all who value our First Amendment rights. When sentences are enhanced because a protester humiliates public officials, all Americans suffer from that retaliation.
Chansley’s judge, Royce Lamberth, was furious that Chansley appeared earlier this year on 60 Minutes. Chansley explained that “I am not a violent man. I am not an insurrectionist. I am certainly not a domestic terrorist.”
A jury would have probably agreed with him had he not pleaded guilty under pressure. The liberal website Politico speculates that Judge Lamberth even punished another defendant with a surprisingly harsh sentence because a different, already sentenced pro-Trump protester dared to speak out on Fox News. Defendants have a right to go on television like everyone else.
Judge Lamberth told Chansley that he was looking at a sentence of 20 years but both the sentencing guidelines and custom point instead to minimal sentences for political protests. Clearly, Lamberth was doing no favors for Chansley by sentencing him to 41 months in prison.
Defendants should not be subjected to terrible conditions in an attempt to coerce pleas of guilt, but that is precisely what is happening in Washington, D.C. January 6th detainees are being denied reasonable bail and even ordinary visitations.
The Capitol is a public building that should be accessible by the public. Peaceful political protests in the Capitol should not result in long prison sentences that are not imposed on Leftist protesters. It is in pivotal cases like this that due process under the law is especially important. Americans do not like double standards, and that is especially true when it comes to the expression of political beliefs.