Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, in jail for life, draws his prison cell

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“Draws a Photo”? sigh I know I know… no one has time to hire an editor.


Considering he’s in the drawing and it’s pretty photorealistic for an amateur, it’s pretty safe to assume someone took a photo and he drew with that as reference.

EDIT: Since I’m getting so much crap for this. See comment #36.


He has a plant? What kind of country-club “prison” is this?

J.K. of course. But interesting how what he writes echoes Timothy Leary’s observations on prison as giving one time for monastic-level contemplation. I doubt that’s the general experience though, what with the gangs and other scary types you’re penned in with.


the number of mentions of people in prison for life makes me realize, that’s the most serious sentence other than the death penalty the government can place on someone

there should be an official list somewhere of everyone in prison for life and what their crime was, I mean for auditing because that’s a heck of a power a government has over people, freedom gone forever

btw this is not to argue they don’t deserve it and/or society may not be better for it, but there should be a concise public record without having to comb through court verdicts


Fuck me. And who said existentialism was dead?

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We need to reconsider long term prison sentences. Many of these sentences seem cruel and unusual. I think it’s time to abolish punitive prison sentences. It does not serve society at all. Keeping people out of society for society’s physical safety is one thing. This is entirely another. Is it right, is it justice, and does it serve society are the questions we need to ask.

A deeper question is how do we make a prisoners life meaningful. If rehabilitation is possible, how do we pursue it.


his incredible drawing of his cell and cellmate

Does “cellmate” refer to that other guy, or to the rat?


a. This drawing is far from photorealistic. The shading, perspective and especially figures are highly stylized.
b. Nowhere in the accompanying text does Mr Ulbricht say he worked from a photograph. Are you even allowed to take photos of your cell in prison?
c. If that was the case, the writer should have made it clear.


3 Square Meters per person? Seriously?


The flip side of keeping people out of prison except when it is a matter of physical safety for society as a whole is it significantly alters the value proposition of white color crime. I mean it is already more likely that a white color criminal will serve very little time, but if the worst that can happen is they will be forced to pay back what er money they still have, what will keep a conman (or con woman) from walking out of court and immediately working on their next mark? What keeps the insider trader from walking away from the guilty verdict and immediately hitting up all their acquaintances for the next “hot tip”? Or a boiler room operator from bilking the next batch of victims in the next penny stock pump n’ dump?

Punitive prison sentences are literally to punish people to give them some incentive to not do it again. Some sentences may go too far, but that doesn’t mean zero time is the universal correct answer (I would personally prefer a prison itself that is less punishing, and more reformative though).

To a lesser extent punitive prison sentences are also to cause other people who are contemplating crime to look at the sentence and change their minds. I think that particular line of reasoning is poor. I’m all for punishing someone in a way that reduces their chance to offend again, but I don’t think criminals normally look at other sentences and decide to walk another path. They use the same line of reasoning most teenagers do for risk: “won’t happen to me!”, and it is unfair too punish someone in order to change the behavior of someone else. It doesn’t matter if that person did something, it matters that they are being punished for reasons external to themselves.


Welcome to boingboing. :slightly_smiling_face:

Cellmate refers to the guy. The rat is referred to as his peer.


A felony for white collar crime takes that person out of the game. It is unlikely they will every be in a position to commit the crime they have been convicted for. Monetary damages may be far more effective.

Punitive sentencing does not prevent crime. When people commit a crime they are normally not thinking rationally. Irrational people do not consider the consequences.

There are more effective choices than prison. We should use them.


Some crimes are impulsive, acts of passion, of irrationality. Some are very calculated, although there may be irrational reasons at heart (someone who greedily amasses more money through ethically dark or illegal methods, more than anyone could ever singlehandedly spend, and it’s still not sufficient).

Criminals can be very methodical, and don’t get caught until they go through a number of victims, sometimes not even then.


Depends on the person, the type of crime, the rewards, and the risk.

For every Epstein there are ten if not hundred successful criminals who get never caught.

That the US leads the world in prisoners per capita doesn’t mean that police, agencies, and DAs are so good in their jobs, just that they hand out huge terms for the tiniest stuff. They don’t actually help in rehabilitating and they hit poor people harder than rich people, but hey, tough on crime.


I’m typing a hand-written post.


I don’t think punitive sentencing reduces the likelihood that someone will commit a crime again. It doesn’t do anything to change the situation, personal, economic, or whatever, that lead to the crime in the original case, and people typically do not learn well from punishment anyway.

I’m not, admittedly, in possession of a giant list of alternatives to prison, but given how massive recidivism rates are, it doesn’t seem to accomplish much except to sate people’s need to feel that justice is getting served. Which is a concept I’ve basically given up on. I’m much less interested in seeing bad people get what we estimate is coming to them (which seems to so rarely happen anyway) and much more in making sure we do what we can to stop people from getting hurt in future. The prison system, as it is now, does a piss poor job of this, but I have to admit, I don’t know what a better system looks like. I’m sure people with more knowledge of the topic than I do have some ideas.


I don’t feel like this is a fair sentence for Ross Ulbricht. Typically racketeering type charges carry lesser sentences.


Many. But we need something like that for people like Brevik IMHO. If we accept we will not kill citizens, then we need to keep the possibility open for some of the more serious crimes, like spree killing, serial murder, genocide, etc.