Last week I filled out my paperwork for the Canadian government regarding my desire to be transferred to the Canadian prison system. In March I will fill in the US paperwork to have it in Washington, DC by approximately April 6th, two years to the day after the US Department of Justice rejected my first application.
If I don't get accepted for a transfer by either the US or Canadian governments, I will be released on July 9th, 2014 here in the United States, spending 15-20 days at a US Immigration & Customs Enforcement facility (likely in Oakdale, Louisiana), and then flown to either Vancouver or Toronto. I'd like to think that, at the latest, I'd be home with Jodie for our 8th wedding anniversary on July 23rd, 2014.
However, if I get approved for transfer under the Canada-US treaty (International Transfer of Offenders Act), I could be en route to a Canadian federal prison in the summer of this year. If I arrive at a Canadian prison on September 1st this year, under new rules enacted by the Conservative government, I’ll be held for a while before being released on December 10th, 2013 – just in time for Christmas.
If I were originally sentenced in Canada, I would have been automatically released July 4th, 2013, at 2/3 of my sentence; that was the statutory release date for any federal prisoner. But under punitive new rules by the Harper government, I will, upon arrival at a Canadian federal prison, have to spend 1/3 of my remaining US sentence in a Canadian prison, even though it goes beyond the statutory release date for any other prisoner.
So whereas I should be released in Canada on July 10th this year (having served 40 months of a 60 month sentence that day, the Canadian release time for any other Canadian federal prisoner) if I am brought back and arrive on September 1st (an estimate, as it takes up to three months after the Canadian government approval to wend my way back through the US system into a Canadian prison), instead of being automatically released, I have to serve an additional 1/3 (of the sentence up to the July 9th, 2014 US release date). That's 1/3 of 317 days, or 106 extra days past September 1st, which would be December 11th, 2013.
But at least I would out before Christmas this year, and home almost 7 months earlier than my US release, so it's still a benefit.
Here's how the treaty application system works, and how I very much need the help of everyone who thinks I deserve their help – hopefully, that's you and any other members of the cannabis culture you can talk to in person, on Facebook, in other social media, at school, at work, at your local medical pot club, vapor lounge, and your friends and your family.
Since I'm a Canadian citizen who lived in Canada before my incarceration, and I'm not affiliated with organized crime, or a threat to the safety of any Canadian, I qualify to be repatriated into the Canadian system. Once I file my Canadian paperwork, they process it and send someone from Corrections Canada to see Jodie, check out our apartment where I'm going to live, and ask a lot of personal questions.
The decision by the Canadian government to accept or reject my application will be made after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) makes their decision, which will be 6-8 weeks after my US application is received in Washington, DC.
My application will go to the DOJ in Washington by the second week of April, and I should have an answer back by the end of May. If approved, this information is sent to the Canadian embassy in Washington, and then is forwarded to the Canadian Minister of Public Safety – currently the Honorable Vic Toews – and he can accept, reject, or stall.
I fully qualify by the criteria set out by both the US and Canadian federal governments regarding treaty transfer approval. But that does not mean approval is automatic; governments often do ignore their own criteria, so as much political pressure as can be applied needs to be leveraged.
THE CAMPAIGN, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO
For My American Supporters:
I need you to contact your Congressmen (your US Rep in the House and US Senator – click here to find yours) or other sympathetic elected officials urging them to write a letter (or add their name to an existing letter that Jodie will soon provide on www.FreeMarc.ca) endorsing my transfer back to the Canadian penal system. You are asking them to write to the International Transfer of Offenders program director:
Paula A. Wolff, Chief
U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division
OEO, International Prisoner Transfer Program
JCK Building, 10th Floor
You should point out that I am a non-violent cannabis offender who was convicted in Washington state of selling seeds from my desk in Vancouver, Canada. (You can also cite any of the other important details about what I did and why, which are listed under the "Who is Marc Emery" page at www.FreeMarc.ca) You can say I have had an exemplary career despite this one federal conviction. You can say I have served over 3 years of a 5 year sentence already, and am due for release in July 2014 even without a transfer. I have had no incidents of any kind in over three years of prison, so I am considered a model prisoner. I am not asking for a commutation or pardon, merely a transfer back to Canada under the current US-Canada prisoner exchange treaty.
Copies of any letters by elected officials should be forwarded to Jodie (her email address is JodieEmery[at]gmail.com), who will then forward these to my transfer lawyer in Washington, DC, who makes a pitch to the DOJ on my behalf sometime in April or May. I am hopeful the original prosecutor in my case, former Western Washington US District Attorney John McKay will write a letter endorsing my transfer, particularly in light of his sponsorship and advocacy in the campaign to legalize marijuana with the I-502 initiative that was successful in November, and which Jodie and I were official endorsers of.
In mid-February, Jodie and CannabisCulture.com (and FreeMarc.ca) will begin a campaign to make my supporters aware of an impending petition drive to be put on the US government website "WE THE PEOPLE", similar to the one in 2011 asking for me to be pardoned, which the White House was forced to respond to (but weaseled out of with a “no comment” answer).
On March 15th the "We the People" website will have a petition titled "TRANSFER US FEDERAL PRISONER MARC EMERY BACK HOME TO CANADA". The petition will ask the President to direct his Attorney-General Eric Holder to direct the administrator of the International Transfer of Offenders division of the DOJ to approve my transfer application. We have 30 days (March 15th – April 14th) to gather 25,000 signatures/names so that it meets the threshold for President Obama's office to acknowledge it.
For My Canadian Supporters:
The Canadian campaign to repatriate me to the Canadian system kicks into high gear once the US Department of Justice approves my transfer application at their end, in Washington, DC. That is expected to be by the end of May, early June.
By April, I need all my Canadian supporters to write their Member of Parliament (find yours by clicking here) and any other elected local or provincial representatives, seeking them to write a letter to urge the Public Safety Minister to accept my transfer application immediately upon acceptance by the US Department of Justice. The Minister of Public Safety Canada can be contacted via email or by regular post.
(Postage not required)
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
We should be able to secure the support of 30-40 Members of Parliament, and 20-25 other elected officials from across Canada. This is much greater than any previous transfer applicant, by far. MP's from the New Democratic Party, Liberal Party, and of course Elizabeth May of the Green Party should be approached especially, as they are most likely to be supportive. If you live in a riding represented by the government (i.e. a Conservative), you are very much encouraged to urge them to approach the Minister of Public Safety in support of my transfer application. You can indicate to any MP that their participation (or not) will very much influence your vote in the 2015 election.
Once the Canadian Ministry of Public Safety has been informed of the US DOJ approval, we will urge you to again contact the Minister and your elected representatives – politely, of course, as rude or threatening calls won’t help – to get them to tell the Minister to approve the transfer.
If, after 28 days, there is no answer, a nationwide phone blitz for one specific day will be announced (well in advance), where hopefully thousands of Canadians will spend as much of that day as possible calling every phone number at the Minister of Public Safety, and every office on Parliament Hill of every Conservative MP, and every Conservative MP constituency office across Canada. This will be done every 14 days until the minister approves the transfer. If he rejects the transfer, the phone barrage will continue every 14 days, urging him to reverse this decision. For that campaign to be effective, we need the support of thousands of Canadians, who can keep the phone lines busy for nine hours straight on those targeted dates.
Ideally the phone jam campaign won’t be necessary, as we hope to have my transfer application quickly approved by both the US and Canadian federal governments. It depends on you to help make that happen! Thank you in advance for your support.
This blog in mid-January is to inform anyone reading this how the transfers work and how the campaign to repatriate me to Canada will be done. To make it happen I will need you and as many people as you can round-up to help out in the ways indicated. Please stay tuned for updates on The Jodie Emery Show at www.Pot.tv and www.YouTube.com/PotTVNetwork and at www.CannabisCulture.com and www.FreeMarc.ca