Civil Liberties

Silk Road Judge Seems Interested in Harm Reduction Argument in Ulbricht Sentencing


I reported last month that the government wants to introduce the notion that drugs bought on the Silk Road allegedly killed six people into the sentencing of Ross Ulbricht, convicted back in February on various charges connected with his founding and running the darkweb sales site.

I also reported then that Ulbricht's lawyer Joshua Dratel wanted to counter with evidence about how Silk Road may have saved lives through harm reduction aspects of its functioning, which could be said to include everything from eliminating the need to physically meet people outside your home (or invite stangers into your home) to the crowd-ratings of dealers and their products on the site to the harm reduction intelligence available on its forums.

This week both Wired and The New York Times have reported extensively on the sort of arguments Dratel introduced. 

The sentencing letter from Dratel to Forrest, containing all their arguments as to Silk Road's potentially life-saving qualities.

Today Tim Bingham, one of the experts on the topic who I quoted in my December Reason feature on the rise and fall of Silk Road, posted a document from Judge Katherine Forrest today indicating she's at least interested in those arguments. In it she wrote:

The parties are advised that the Court shall review a number of sources cited in the articles submitted by the defense and, to the extent appropriate, refer to them. Among those is "Not an 'Ebay for Drugs': The Cryptomarket 'Silk Road' as a Paradigm Shifting Criminal Innovation" by Judith Aldridge and David Décary-Hétu.

I wrote back in February on why Ulbricht's conviction was a blow against safety, peace, liberty, and justice.