Historic prison sentences

Albert Speer (1946) – 20 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity

Konstantin von Neurath (1946) – 15 years for crimes against humanity

Baldur von Schirach (1946) – 20 years for crimes against humanity

Timothy Leary (1970) – 20 years for possessing a small quantity of marijuana

When Leary was first convicted for drug offences, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He appealed this case, arguing that the Marihuana Tax Act was unconstitutional, and that his case involved self-incrimination, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

While the court ultimately agreed with Leary, he was arrested again for the possession of two cigarette stubs, allegedly containing traces of marijuana, which he claimed had been planted on his person by the arresting officer. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison (ten years for the offense, plus ten for one committed in 1965).

Arriving at California Men's Prison, he was required to undergo psychiatric profiling. The test he took was one he had designed himself at Harvard. Unsurprisingly, the results he obtained highlighted his good nature and he was recommended for light gardening work.

He walked away from the prison in 1970, having scaled a 12-foot chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. He was smuggled out of America by the Weathermen, and came to the 'government in exile' of the Black Panthers, in Algeria. The Panthers, who had previously supported Leary, grew weary of him and attempted to take himself and his wife hostage. He fled, first to Switzerland, and later to Afghanistan, where the CIA kidnapped him and returned him, grinning, to the USA.

He was jailed again in Folsom prison, where he was kept in solitary confinement. The prisoner in the cell next to his was the mass-murderer Charles Manson. He was pardoned in 1976, having served three years of his sentence.

Albert Speer was sentenced largely for his exploitation of slave labour in armaments factories in Nazi Germany. He served his full term in Spandau prison and was released in 1966. His book, Inside the Third Reich, is a useful source of information on Nazi government but subject to its author's attempts to separate himself from Nazi atrocities.