PLACID FALLS, MINNESOTA — When Glenn Cebulak was arrested in 1997, he was subsequently indicted and charged for possession of, with intent to sell, marijuana. At the time, his judge threw the book at him and gave him the maximum sentence allowable. These days he says he’s just “patiently counting down the days” until he is released, which he says may be a “few years short” of his full, 30 year term. Cebulak was not convicted of any violent crime, as the firearms he owned to protect his contraband business were all purchased completely legally.
Cebulak told our reporter he began selling weed to help pay for bills around the house. His mother was very ill and his father had left the family more than ten years before, when he was just 12 years old. Being only 22 years old and from a particularly poor neighborhood with exceptionally under-performing schools, Glenn told us he didn’t see any other way to immediately put food on the table for his sick mother and himself without selling pot. He said he never sold to kids, and his customer base was small but extremely loyal.
None of that mattered to the judge who sentenced him to 30 years though. Cebulak said he’s made so much peace with his treatment under the guise of the War on Drugs that when he found out that once again President Obama would be continuing the tradition of pardoning a turkey on Thanksgiving, he was “really happy for” the turkey, and not “bitter and jaded that a turkey got a fake pardon and I’m still rotting away in a cell for just trying to help my sick mother get well.”
“I mean, yeah I could get miffed at the notion that every single year presidents fake pardon turkeys that were never going to actually be eaten anyway instead of actually pardoning people who are no danger to society and were swept up into mass incarceration as part of an ill-advised attempt to force personal morality on people the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Prohibition, with predictably just as shitty results,” Glenn said, “but fuck it, you know? This is America. We’re more concerned about who’s going to win the reality TV dating show than we are with whether our domestic and foreign policies remotely coincide with what anyone would consider ‘American’ values. So this isn’t surprising that real humans would be devalued and a turkey would be given a place of high honor.”
Ultimately, Cebulak told us, he’s just happy to be alive. “The prison system is pretty gnarly. I know people think we’re all just working out and watching cable TV, but there are racial fights, there are gangs, there’s constant abuse and torment from the guards,” he said, “and so it’s not a walk in the park. To have made it this long, and have just a couple more years left to serve, I just feel lucky to be here. So good for you, turkey, enjoy your pardon. I’ll just be here, trying not to get beaten up by either the guards or an angry inmate, I guess.”
“Who knows,” Glenn said finally, “maybe Obama will remember his Choom Gang days and pardon a guy like me next year, for his last Thanksgiving pardon. But I won’t hold my breath obviously.”
Cebulak ended the call by wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.