Friday, November 26, 2010

An Open Letter to Governor Christie Concerning Brian Aitken

Governor Christie,

Several days ago, I read about the case of Brian Aitken in Reason Magazine. He was arrested and convicted of violating one of New Jersey’s draconian gun laws. I am writing this to request Brian Aitken be granted an executive pardon.

The details surrounding Mr. Aiken’s tour through our justice system would horrify anyone with a sense of justice. The law of which he accidentally ran afoul is a leftover from the irrationally anti-gun Corzine administration, and the way information was withheld from the jury by Judge Morely is simply unacceptable.

What’s worse is the sentence. A seven-year prison sentence is grossly disproportionate to the nature of his infraction; it is seven years of living in a nightmare. It is the destruction of seven years of an honest man’s life- and then comes the epilogue: living the rest of his life as a convicted felon, making earning a living in any professional capacity impossible. And all this is because of what amounts to overaggressive law enforcement preying on someone’s innocent mistake.

I do not know Brian Aitken personally, but I was nonetheless deeply moved by the story of his conviction. His case is a clear indication that we do not live in a nation with liberty and justice for all. It chokes me up with anger to know that something like this could take place in the land of the free.

I am certain that this case is not unusual, and that similar instances occur every day in the United States- so often, in fact, that they go unnoticed. It doesn’t make the news every time some anonymous nobody with no political pull gets railroaded by our justice system. Thankfully, your executive power to grant clemency is a last chance to correct this situation. It falls on your shoulders to use your legal authority to remedy the failures of the system and to take back the unjust hand dealt to Mr. Aitken.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and the list of people who have been victimized by the system which is supposed to protect them is very long. Brian Aitken’s name is on that list, but thanks to Radley Balko at Reason, his name has been highlighted. Mr. Governor, don’t squander the opportunity to change this man’s life by doing what it just. Save Brian Aitken from a seven year prison sentence and reunite him with his family.

In Liberty,

William Kern

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