On Wednesday, July 17, the United States finally put away Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, for good. The drug kingpin had an extensive criminal history, with convictions ranging from mass distribution of cocaine to conspiracy to murder 26 people and groups. Since a judge found him guilty in February, he has been in detention in Manhattan. At the hearing, he complained about the inhumane treatment that the feds gave him while awaiting his grim fate. He specifically noted that he was “denied access to air and sunlight and was “forced to drink unsanitary water”. But compared to the peaceful libertarian entrepreneur and Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, El Chapo got off easy.
I was put in handcuffs for the first time when I was 29 years old. I was labeled a prisoner that day and have since spent 2,096 days and nights in the captivity of the U.S. federal government. I’m still in prison, condemned to die here with a life sentence and no parole. Prison is nothing if not boring, so I’ve had many hours to think about all sorts of things, including who, if anyone, really belongs here.
The government is often touted as an entity that guarantees the freedom of its citizens. But the United States’ incarceration rate continues to soar. Today, the country hosts nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners despite having less than 5% of the world’s population. Meanwhile, privacy has become moot as location tracking and unmarked police vehicles become the norm. The government has done nothing to stop this, often passing laws to further restrict freedom.
Luckily, there are some individuals who took it upon their own shoulders to fight for the rights of free people to do as they please. In the past ten years alone, these three individuals have done more to guarantee your freedom than the entire United States government has done in 50 years.
October 1, 2018, marked five years since I was imprisoned. My physical surroundings today are ironically similar to what they were after my arrest back in 2013. I’m in the SHU again (Special Housing Unit, aka “the hole”). It means permanent lockdown, separated from the general prison population, in a small cell.
2) Ross Ulbricht
By creating Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht was actually following in the footsteps of Satoshi; his online, private, secure black market exclusively accepted Bitcoin as a means of payment for years after its launch. Silk Road was an e-commerce platform like Amazon or Craigslist but placed a heavy emphasis on privacy and security.