As conservative billionaire Charles Koch has emerged as one of the most influential advocates of sentencing reform, he has seized on the Weldon Angelos story to illustrate the inequities of the U.S. criminal justice system, reports the Washington Post. Angelos, is one of thousands of prisoners who have applied for clemency under an initiative launched by the Obama administration. The onetime rapper from Utah was sentenced in 2004 to a mandatory 55 years in federal prison after he was arrested for selling about $1,000 worth of marijuana in three separate transactions with a police informant.
“I obviously did something illegal, which was stupid,” said Angelos, now 36, at the federal prison in Mendota, Ca. “I've accepted responsibility for everything and I've already served 12 years of my life because of my mistakes. I lost the family I started, my career and my father's final days. I just want to move on. My main goal in life is to get out and take care of my children.” He was 25 when he was sent away, and he will be nearly 80 when he gets out. The federal judge who put him there expressed his frustration and anger at the “irrational” sentence he was compelled to impose and urged then-President George W. Bush to commute it. “Monstrous,” said Koch, 79, of the Angelos case. “Obscene. Somebody makes one mistake, violates a law — and I'm not talking about people who are violent criminals who are hurting people and destroying property — and their lives are ruined by these massive sentences.”