September 10, 2007 by Dan
Sargent Binkley graduated high school with me in 1993 – he was a history nut, athlete, and all-around decent guy. He worked hard, was an Eagle Scout, and gained admission to West Point. After graduating he served in Bosnia, Central America, and elsewhere, becoming an airborne Ranger in the process. Along the way he smashed his hip, and there the story turns tragic. The Army medical community misdiagnosed him, overprescribed opiates for his pain…he became addicted to those painkillers. He’scurrently sitting in a Redwood City jail awaiting sentencing after pleading no contest to robbing two Walgreens pharmacies in early 2006. He left each store with a bag full of Percocet and the unloaded gun he’d used..
California is one of those states with harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws. In Sargent’s case, he’s facing a mandatory ten years on top of whatever sentence the judge decides on (probably two years), for at least twelve. This is time that must be spent in state prison; it can’t be supervised drug rehab, supervised parole, or anything useful. The judge can’t do anything about this – even though Sargent turned himself in to the police pled no contest, harmed no one, took no money, and was in the thrall of an addiction that was, partially, due to Army misdiagnosis, all of the mitigating ability rests in the hands of the Santa Clara County DA. District Attorneys have different motivations than judges, and in this case he’s leaning towards the punitive.
Some of my classmates have decided to do what we can to help him. We spent the weekend building SupportSarge.org, and we’re trying to publicize his case and convince the DA to mitigate his sentence. The only thing that may change the DA’s mind is public pressure. The website has templates for letter-writing, contact information for phone calls, and more about the case. If you have a few minutes, a cell phone, and a stamp, I’d appreciate it if you’d help him out by writing a short letter or making a quick phone call. Even if you don’t know the guy (you’ll have to take my word that he’s a decent fellow), you may be opposed to our harsh and capricious mandatory minimum sentencing laws, or you may think that someone who’s sacrificed much for his country deserves a fair shake. Either way, we appreciate your support.
Also – if you’ve got a blog or if you’re press, please write a post, link to the site, and help spread the word. It’s best if people from Santa Clara County get involved, but all the support we can get would be really helpful.
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