Based on an e-mail I got from Dianne Blandford the wife of an incarcertaed small business man who is serving eight years for importing shrimpy lobster tails, I started poking around to learn a bit more about his case.
The Spiny Lobster
Among the things I came across was this article from the Cato insitiute called Begging His Pardon It concerns Bush's paltry use of the clemency power (the only executive power he seems reluctant to use) and lists several prisoners worth of clemency (among them Mr. Blandford).
Here are two I found astonishing
* Dane Yirkovsky--serving a 15-year sentence for possession of a single .22-caliber bullet.
In December 1998 he found this bullet while doing remodeling work for a friend who was giving him a place to stay in exchange for the work. Yirkovsky put the bullet in a box in his bedroom. Later that month, the police found the bullet while searching Yirkovsky's room after a call from his former girlfriend, who claimed he had some of her possessions. Because of Yirkovsky's prior convictions for burglary, federal prosecutors charged him under the Armed Career Criminal Act, although he had not threatened anyone and did not have a gun.
* Robert Blandford, Diane Huang, David McNab, and Abner Schoenwetter
Three American seafood dealers and one Honduran lobster-fleet owner are currently doing hard time for importing lobster tails that were the wrong size and that were packaged in clear plastic bags rather than in cardboard boxes. They ran afoul of the Lacey Act, a federal statute that makes it a crime to import fish or wildlife taken 'in violation of any foreign law.'
The U.S. government argued that they had broken Honduran law because some of the lobster tails—3 percent, to be exact—were less than five and a half inches long, and because a Honduran regulation required that the lobster tails be packed in boxes. Yet Honduran officials testified that no laws had been violated.
Nonetheless, Blandford, McNab (the Honduran national), and Schoenwetter, three small-business men with no previous criminal records, were sentenced in 2001 to eight-year terms.