Westminster businessman Kevin J. Alt has no proble reconciling his belief in strong penalties for drug offenders with his position as chairman of the legal defense fund for Pamela Snowhite Davis, the outspoken marijuana advocate who is in prison for two years on a felony drug conviction.
"I feel she was punished for speaking her mind. Let her speak out about drugs if she wants to," said Mr. Alt, 29, a stockholder in Alt's Transport Service Inc., a local towing operation.
"I don't believe in legalizing drugs or anything like that, but I do believe in freedom of speech."
Davis was sentenced to five years in state prison April 28 by Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. after she was convicted of maintaining a common nuisance and possession of drugs and paraphernalia.
All but two years of the sentence was suspended. Davis also was fined $2,500 and ordered to serve five years' supervised probation, to undergo drug treatment and to submit to random urinalysis.
Davis and her Westminster attorney, Stephen P. Bourexis, filed an application Thursday for a sentence review in Carroll Circuit Court.
Davis also wants a change of venue for her June 10 drug distribution trial because she feels she cannot have a fair trial here due to pretrial publicity.
Mr. Alt distributed a news release last week explaining why he volunteered to head the Pamela Snowhite Davis Legal Defense Fund, which will collect money to pay for Davis' legal assistance and related bills.
He has never met Davis, but Mr. Alt said he wants to help her because she is now sitting in a state prison cell as a result of a violation of her First Amendment Rights.
"If you can't speak out and peacefully demonstrate for change without being punished for it, then we will be destroyed as a
society," Mr. Alt said in his news release.
He said that while he advocates stricter penalties for those convicted on drug charges, he thinks Davis was given an unusually harsh sentence.
"I know people I went to school with who were caught with drugs and got probation before judgment. They were never sent to jail for two years like she [Davis] was for just possession charges," Mr. Alt said.
"I believe in hard punishment for people involved with drugs, but if we are going to do that, we have to do that to everybody. I say, let's get them all off the street."
Judges shouldn't let others off and put Davis in jail for doing the same thing, Mr. Alt said.
"Why give all those [others] probation and give her two years in jail?" he asked.
Mr. Alt said donations can be sent to "The Pamela Snowhite Davis Legal Defense Fund," c/o Kevin J. Alt, 235 E. Main St., Westminster, Md. 21157.