Father of 3 Imprisoned 25 Years for Selling Leftover Pain Pills

April 4th, 2013

Due to the implementation of the misguided War on Drugs, the United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Victimless “criminals” fill overcrowded jails, leading to the early release of hardcore killers, armed robbers, and rapists. While drug abuse is certainly a serious problem, prohibition has been proven a complete failure when it comes to reducing addiction rates. In fact, the criminalization of drugs itself has caused a variety of new social ills which tear at the fabric of American society.

The Atlantic is reporting on the particularly depressing story of John Horner, the 46-year-old father of the three children depicted in the picture above. An injured friend, who happened to be a police informant, asked to buy some of Horner’s pain pills which were left over from when he lost an eye. He agreed and was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years. His children have now lost their father for their entire childhoods, because someone talked him into selling leftover pain pills one time.

The War on Drugs’ Weird Sentencing

Often, we hear of first offenders getting outrageous, life-long sentences for selling petty amounts of marijuana to the same informant multiple times while owning a gun. Meanwhile, other people will take a gun and shoot a human being with it, fatally, and won’t be sentenced to as much jail time. Fundamentally, this makes no sense. Taxpayers pay for jails because they want dangerous people put in them. Someone with a clean record who commits second-degree murder could in theory get out earlier than John Horner.

Also, taxpayers have to fund Horner’s incarceration, which, as the above-linked Atlantic article notes, will cost upwards of $475,000. In exchange for these funds, citizens will receive the ruination of three children’s lives, Horner will be immersed in a social environment with killers and gang members (increasing his risk of turning to criminality), and an additional cell will be taken up in the prison, leading to more early releases of killers.

Is John Horner Dangerous?

John Horner was a fast food employee who had run out of luck and couldn’t find a job. He has children to support. He lost an eye in an accident and still had some pain pills left over. A friend was injured and asked to buy them, and he sold them, just to the one person. It’s probably not his proudest moment in life, but does it mean he should be locked away from society?

He wasn’t running a pill mill. He wasn’t the leader of a violent drug cartel. The only thing he had on his criminal record was another unfair charge — when he was 18, he was convicted of statutory rape for having consensual sex with a high school girlfriend. Most people would find that conviction astonishing as well, as most statutory rape laws have exemptions for consensual scenarios between high school students around the same age who technically are over and under the 18-year line respectively at the time of the incident in question.

John Horner should not be in jail for 25 years. His children do not benefit from being left un-raised, demoralized by the fact that their father is a prison inmate. Will they turn to violent crime and theft in his absence? The War on Drugs is not only a complete failure, but it is becoming an aggressive menace to society, worse than the drugs themselves.

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

is a singer for the experimental mathcore band , a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.