Mitigations Rejected

Judge Forrest rejected academic studies that concluded Silk Road reduced harm in the drug world and saved lives, saying it was “magical fantasy that the Silk Road site had a harm-reducing effect on society.” Defense attorney Joshua Dratel responded: “The fantasy is that long sentences make any difference. The fantasy is that the internet will not be a source of drugs or illegality because of this sentence.”

The defense also presented, and the judge rejected, many studies and articles concluding that long sentences do nothing to deter crime. “She took what was the unanimous consensus of independent, professional researchers and reduced it to a selection of a word here and a word there and twisted it on its head,” Dratel said.

Judge Forrest was also unmoved by the 100 letters [PDF] from friends and family (including fellow inmates) attesting to Ross’ principled character and compassion. These people entreated the judge to allow Ross to eventually return to society and contribute to it. Although Judge Forrest called the collection of letters “impressive”, she found them unconvincing.