From the August 2003 Idaho Observer:
Patriot Act provisions could mean life for thought criminals
SPOKANE, Wash. -- On July 17, 2003, a jury convicted Kenneth Olsen, 49, of making and possessing ricin, a deadly poison derived from castor beans. Under provisions of the Patriot Act, the government considers ricine a biological weapon.
Each count carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
It took about two hours for the jury to convict the Spokane Valley man who's been in custody since June, 2002. Until the Patriot Act, the government had to establish criminal intent before it could imprison private individuals for making or possessing poison.
The government never established intent, though it did attempt to claim Olsen's wife of 28 years was the intended victim.However, Olsen's wife steadfastly supports her husband's innocence.
Government, of course, has demonstrated criminal intent with the poisons it manufactures and possesses, but it will not prosecute itself.
Deputy U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks said the evidence showed Olsen intended to use the ricin he processed as a weapon and to harm someone, the only elements the government needed to prove.
Hicks' analysis proves that Americans can now be given life in prison for thought crimes.
Per the Patriot Act, even university students must now sign statements to be cleared for handling a comprehensive list of substances in their lab work. The list includes ricin, botulism, and various viruses, bacteria, fungi and genetically-modified organisms.
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