A View from the Cell of Ross Ulbricht

Journalist:
March 31, 2016

It has been a tough couple of years for Ross Ulbricht and his family.

In mid-2015, Ross Ulbricht learned his fate for his involvement in Silk Road (which was futilely appealed). The Silk Road, as readers may remember, was an online black market that featured everything from guns to drugs to counterfeit documents for sale. His mother, Lyn, has suffered serious health complications presumably from the stress associated with the situation. So far the situation seems dire. But it looks like the family is it in it for the long run.

In a recent article from The Daily Dot, Patrick Howell O’Neill catches up with the family to see how they are coping with this extraordinary situation.

According to O’Neill, Ross seems to be settling into prison life as well as one can be expected. He is now teaching GED classes to other inmates. He has even begun teaching more advanced classes like physics as well. It seems that this once kingpin of the first darknet market is acclimating to his new reality. Ross is often moved from prison to prison on short or no notice, leaving his family to the task of tracking him down for their next visit. But the real story is unfolding outside of the prison walls.

Ross’s mother Lyn is still gathering funding and support to continue the fight for his cause and ultimately his freedom. Thus far she has raised over $433,000 for his legal defense. Ulbricht’s family is prepping another appeal to be filed this summer.

For his family ,the fact that, for now, Ross will spend the rest of his life behind bars seems like a miscarriage of justice. As O’Neill quotes Lyn Ulbricht, she says:

It’s very clear that drugs are not the reason Ross is in there. He’s there because he was a political threat, because of the political philosophy of the site, of Bitcoin, of Tor, all of that.

Lyn’s viewpoint is shared by many. It seemed that there was just something more below the surface of Ross’s case.

This is in stark contrast to the view of the Federal Government. As O’Neill reports regarding Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara post-sentencing statements,“Make no mistake: Ulbricht was a drug dealer and criminal profiteer who exploited people’s addictions and contributed to the deaths of at least six young people. Ulbricht went from hiding his cybercrime identity to becoming the face of cybercrime and as today’s sentence proves, no one is above the law.”

This is, unquestionably, a complicated case. To many observers, it has seemed that there was no doubt Ulbricht was up to some nefarious activities (oddly some of the most heinous allegations were never officially presented at trial) but he was also sentenced with the fervor and whiplash that often comes with a lack of understanding, a fear of the unknown. That is not to say that Ulbricht does not deserve to be behind bars, but the life sentence in light of the evidence presented and proven seems heavy.

Unfortunately for Ulbricht and his family, the process moves at a glacial pace. Until his new day in court no doubt Ulbricht will keep a low profile. His family will continue to fight for their son. And the rest of us will continue to wonder what the hell all of this means. Was Ulbricht a modern day freedom fighter? Or just a tech savvy drug slinger? Time will tell.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified (UTC): March 31, 2016 14:42