More Than Half a Million Drug War Prisoners

Based on the latest figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Drug War Chronicle estimates that more than 530,000 people were behind bars for drug offenses in the U.S. at the end of last year. Drug offenders accounted for about 25 percent of jail inmates, 21 percent of state prison inmates, and 55 percent of federal prison inmates. The total number of people behind bars was about 2.3 million, an all-time record, giving the U.S. an incarceration rate of 724 per 100,000--the highest in the world, according to the Chronicle, which says we even beat out China this time.

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  • ||

    A shame, no doubt, but I hate this line:

    which says we even beat out China this time

    It comes up every year when we get this tally, and every time, some asshole like me points out that the Chinese have far fewer qualms about shooting the accused in the back of the head in dark alleys or ravines or wherever than we do. I think it's also wise to view their incarceration counts with a skeptical eye considering their lack of respect for due process and basic rights for the accused: how many are "disappeared" in China yearly with no charge and no disclosed record (and how does it stack up against us)? Even in our worst-case scenario, Jose Padilla, we know he's behind bars, regardless of the other outrageous circumstances in his case.

  • ||

    Why is half-a-million casualties a number of any particular significance ? Why not 1 milion ? This just proves the MSM's liberal bias ... Oh, you mean the drug war.

  • ||

    Adam- Your points about the Chinese are, no doubt, correct. That does not, however, mitigate the obscenity of the drug war.

  • ||

    Yes, the liberals have it right. Let all these drug dealers and murderers out so they can pedal their trade to our kids. I am so glad I live in a red state. Doper wingnuts!

  • ||

    ~Here there be trolls~

  • ||

    On the South of Syracuse here they do pedal when they peddle their wares.

  • ||

    Yes, the liberals have it right. Let all these drug dealers and murderers out so they can pedal their trade to our kids. I am so glad I live in a red state. Doper wingnuts!

    Don't want your kid to do drugs?

    Then perhaps you should do a better job of instilling that message into them.

    /Doesn't partake, supports full legalization

  • ||

    Hey RA,
    Drug laws won't stop your kids from doing drugs anymore that drinking laws stopped you from drinking before you were 21.

  • ||

    Guys, he's gone. RA hasn't got the guts to stick around. Sniveling coward.

  • ||

    530,000 x $35,000 per year per prisoner = $18,550,000,000 per year.

    For that kind of money we could expand the war into Syria easily!!!

  • ||

    "Yes, the liberals have it right. Let all these drug dealers and murderers out so they can pedal their trade to our kids."

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

  • ||

    I think RA is Juanita's husband. I hope like hell those two don't breed.

  • ||

    RA is kidding or maybe he owns a lot of stock in one of those privatized prison companies.

    Or he has lots of stock in a brewing or distilling companies.

  • ||

    RA seems to have showed up just a few weeks ago and since then he's been regularly posting his inane parodies of the right. Why would some one so clearly disdainful of the magazine and the point of view it represents give so much of his life to trolling the boards?

  • ||

    I think RA is Juanita's husband. I hope like hell those two don't breed.

    No

    530,000 people is not enougth. We should not stop until we have stopped everyone from breaking the law. We have got to do this for the kids. The war is what is keeping the kids safe.

    We were once a product economy, then we transitioned into a service based economy, we are going to transition into a prison based economy. We should have the prisoners do work for free to make cheap products for us.

  • ||

    Drug laws won't stop your kids from doing drugs anymore that drinking laws stopped you from drinking before you were 21.

    No but they reduce the likelyhood.

  • ||

    Re: The troll. For dog's sake, just ignore him. The discourse around here is heading quickly coming to resemble the orgy of ad hominem attacks, rhetorical chest beating, and agressive stupidty found everywhere else on the net. There's no need to throw troll-directed flames into the mix.

  • ||

    Yes, the liberals have it right. Let all these drug dealers and murderers out so they can pedal their trade to our kids. I am so glad I live in a red state. Doper wingnuts!

    As long as we make dope legal we may as well make murder legal, they are both against the law, I fail to see the difference.

  • taktix||

    RA,

    Who said anything about letting murderers out? Care to tack on any other offenses to your ohh-so-credible argument?

    And I love your little "pedal it to kids" arguement, since anecdotal evidence is fullproof AND we are all in charge of taking care of your dumb fucking carpet crawlers.

    This is an issue that I get fired up about because it is fundamental to our representative republic that our freedoms be preserved. Who the fuck are you to tell me what I can and can't do, RA?

    On a higher note (heh heh), I have been covering a city in Pennsylvania for my newspaper, and have noticed that most drug offenses have lately been bumped down by the judge to "disorderly conduct" charges ($300 fine).

    Any Pa. folks, has there been some change in legislation?

  • ||

    edit: delete "heading" from my post above.

  • ||

    the orgy of ad hominem attacks

    ooohh aahh.

  • ||

    *snort* I guess the existence of the laws have made me do slightly less drugs than I would have otherwise - can't just bop on down to the store for some laudanum! - but if the laws really prevent someone from doing drugs, drinking underage, or whatever, that person is not trying very hard. (The laws certainly don't seem to stop my next door neighbor from smoking weed and snorting coke all the time, and the area where I live is crawling with cops.)


    Anyway, Juanita, I think your stance only raises another question: Assuming that the laws do 'reduce the likelyhood', exactly how much are we willing to spend and how many people are we willing to throw in prison to achieve this reduction?

  • ||

    Jennifer,
    Isn't 'Juanita' Spanish for 'Jennifer'?

  • ||

    This thread has inspired me: I am going to go as Juanita for Halloween. Just wanted to get dibs on it so no one else steals my idear.

  • ||

    No but they reduce the likelyhood.

    Can I laugh now? Because, well, when I was growing up (think 1990s) the age limit was more of a challenge than anything to take seriously.

    As long as we make dope legal we may as well make murder legal, they are both against the law, I fail to see the difference.

    Ok, now I have no choice but to giggle incessantly. And they call libertarians wingnuts? Keeerist.

  • ||

    Tell me about it, Kwais. I never get invited to the good orgies anymore.

  • ||

    Ignore Juanita, and ignore RA.

    For that matter, ignore any disruptive influences on the forum.

    I have felt a great disturbance in the forum.

    :)

  • ||

    ooohh aahh.

    kwais,

    *chuckle*

  • ||

    Kwais, my last comment was posted BEFORE I noticed your suggestion that Juanita is the Spanish version of myself. She isn't, I'm not, drop dead. Hmmph.

  • ||

    Juanita is Spanish for "Joan" or "Joanna."

  • ||

    *whistling* *walking nonchalantly, hands behind back and then suddenly*

    Hmm, there's a banana peel on that wet, grassy slope. I should walk down there and pick it up before anyone...aaauuuuggggggg! *bump, bump, slam, ow!*

    Stupid trolls.

  • ||

    The Forum can exert a powerful influence over the weak minded.

  • ||

    Juanita is Spanish for "Joan" or "Joanna."


    tsk, tsk, thoreau. How soon you forget. "Juanita" is Spanish for "Jane" -- don't you remember her American troll cousin who was posting on here a few months ago? tsk, tsk. There are so many even the regulars can't keep track anymore.

  • ||

    I disagree with the drug laws in a lot of ways, although I am not quite sure I am ready to advocate full legalization. I still can't muster much sympathy for most of the people who are in prison for drug offenses. The fact is drugs and selling them are illegal. If you are dumb enough to break the law and get caught, that is your fault. There are exceptions to this, people who really drugs for medical reasons like the guy in Florida listed in one of the posts today.

    The vast majority of the people in jail on drug offenses, however, are people who are too lazy to work for a living and were making a quick buck selling the stuff and got caught. Too bad, pay your money take your chances. Just because I don't agree with a law doesn't mean that I should go out and break it to make a quick buck and then be able to claim I am a victim.

    Don't give me the "they are unjust laws and therefore these people are victims" routine either. Its not like they are political prisoners in China or Cuba thrown in jail for writing a newspaper or signing a petition. Bull. The vast majority of people doing time for drug offenses are people who were trying to make money because they didn't want to work for it.

  • ||

    I've always heard police per capita cited as a good measure of relative legitimacy--the relative brutality of the police was always beside the point.

    ...It would be interesting to see our incarceration rate as compared to other countries on a map--as well as our incarceration rate on a timeline.

  • ||

    drop dead

    Careful there, Jennifer...

  • ||

    Tom,

    I am always leiry of reading too much into per-capita incarceration rates. These rates are always read to mean that the U.S. has a legal problem because its throwing so many people in jail. Isn't it more likely that they mean the U.S. has social problems and high rates of criminality that have nothing to do with our legal system?

  • ||

    The vast majority of people doing time for drug offenses are people who were trying to make money because they didn't want to work for it.

    I suspect that this "vast majority" you speak of either WERE working, selling a product which our moral gatekeepers happen to deem BAD; or they were working some other job on the approved list in order to purchase said product.

  • ||

    "The fact is drugs and selling them are illegal. If you are dumb enough to break the law and get caught, that is your fault."

    Ok, and when political speech is banned only criminals will speak about politics. Oh, wait, they passed McCain-Feingold, I'm too late.

    "The vast majority of people doing time for drug offenses are people who were trying to make money because they didn't want to work for it."

    Do you have any real evidence to back that up? I mean how can you say standing out on the corner all day, risking your life from other hoods and cops is easy?

    And, even I know that "John", is "Juan" in Spanish. "Juanita" being the female diminutive for this suspiciously similar nom de plume. John=Juanita?

  • ||

    The fact is drugs and selling them are illegal. If you are dumb enough to break the law and get caught, that is your fault.

    and then...

    Its not like they are political prisoners in China or Cuba thrown in jail for writing a newspaper or signing a petition.

    The fact is that those activities are illegal in those countries and if they were dumb enough to break the law and get caught, it was their fault, right? I mean, why not?

    The vast majority of the people in jail on drug offenses, however, are people who are too lazy to work for a living and were making a quick buck selling the stuff and got caught.

    How do you know this? How do you know how hard/easy it is to manufacture and sell drugs? Why do you think it's easier to sell marijuana than, say, cigarettes or alcohol?

  • ||

    John-

    The people who get caught may very well be less than worthy objects of sympathy. But I understand that quite a few people in the drug trade have day jobs. Some of them even have day jobs in the public sector. Doing things that might even be directly related to enforcing Prohibition.

    You'll feel much better if you pay no attention to those men behind the curtain.

  • ||

    If we ever surrendered in the Drug War, within a month we'd see the following people by the freeway off-ramp with "will work for food" signs:

    -Local gang-bangers
    -People in fancy houses that you never would have suspected of being in the drug trade
    -Afghan warlords
    -Mafia bosses
    -Most of Tajikistan's government
    -South American guerrillas
    -A whole bunch of cops, prosecutors, judges, legislators, Border Patrol Agents, Customs Inspectors, IRS Auditors, Coast Guard Officers, etc.

    Do you really want to see these people go broke?

  • ||

    John,

    What Rhywun said.
    How is dealing drugs not work?
    My dealer drives all over Brooklyn and Queens all night making deliveries -- that's harder than I work at this stupid desk job.

    They are bad laws. Many people risk them because they want drugs and they feel -- correctly -- that it's their right to put what they want in their bodies. Just like it's a person's right to write a newspaper.

    Incarcerating people for either one is wrong, whether it's the law or not. Yeah, I'm taking a risk by using drugs. And if I get caught and sentenced I can't plead ignorant to that risk -- I was well aware of it. But that doesn't change the fact that that risk shouldn't be there at all.

  • ||

    People sale drugs because you can make tons of money at it and they don't want work for it at a legitimate job or if they have a legitimate job, they want more money than they can make at that job. Easy money is ten times more addictive than drugs ever were. Its about money. They are not making a political statement or trying to be martyrs to the drug laws. You clowns can claim that they are political prisoners all you want just go over and get in line with the free Mumia crowd. More importantly, if you truely disagree with a law, why not just use drugs because you feel its your right? Why does making a statement about the law necessarily involve selling the drugs and making large amounts of money?

  • ||

    John,

    Now I'm confused. I don't think anybody ever said that people use or sell drugs to "make a political statement."
    I use drugs because I enjoy them. Not all of them. Actually, not most of them. But a few.
    And, um, yeah, people sell drugs to make money. Thanks for enlightening us. All this time I thought they were political dissidents.
    And has it occurred to you that if drugs were legal, they wouldn't be a source of easy money, and selling them would be a "legitimate" job?

  • ||

    John,

    You keep asserting that manufacturing and selling drugs is "easy," without giving any evidence at all to support the assertion. Please explain why it's easier to manufacture and sell illegal drugs than it is to manufacture and sell legal drugs.

    And you didn't answer my questions. Why are people who knowingly break laws about what they can sell to consenting adults less deserving of sympathy than people who knowingly break laws about what they can write or petition the government to do?

  • ||

    I want to see the guys from the Felix Arellano cartel, dressed in suits & ties, in a Vendor Cubicle in Bentonville; getting raped down to their last Centavo over the price of Sam's Choice Marijuana.

    OK, so maybe the Felix Arellano cartel move coke and not pot. Work with me here, people.

  • ||

    Fine Dylan,

    Sell all the drugs you want and when the cops catch you and you go to prison, too bad. That is the point. You know the rules, you know risks and you choose to assume them. Why does that make you in any way a sympathetic figure. You yourself admit, you are not fighting the system, you just want to enjoy yourself and make money. Is it your position that anyone should be able to break any law they don't agree with and claim to be a victim when they suffer the consiquences? What so special about drug laws? I think speek limits are bullshit. In fact countries like Germany don't have them in places. Does that mean I have the right to claim to be a victim when the police give me a ticket for doing 110?

  • ||

    If it was just drug dealers getting locked up, then why is it easier than ever to get drugs?

    When you find the answer to that question, the meaning of the drug war will be revealed.

  • ||

    I think speek limits are bullshit. In fact countries like Germany don't have them in places. Does that mean I have the right to claim to be a victim when the police give me a ticket for doing 110?

    This is an obviously poor comparison. Speeding puts others at risk involuntarily.

  • ||

    What so special about drug laws?

    They are an attempt to use law enforcement to deal with a health issue, IMHO.

  • ||

    John's argument seems to boil down to "all those evil nasty drug dealers are just GREEDY and IN IT FOR THEMSELVES!"

    So? You say that like it's a bad thing.

    Oh, and I have to go re-read Jaunita's statements. All that hot 'n' heavy statism just makes me feel like such a dirty, dirty boy.

  • ||

    What so special about drug laws?

    They imply that the government owns your body. Do you think it does?

  • ||

    As long as we make dope legal we may as well make murder legal, they are both against the law, I fail to see the difference.
    Behind door #1 is a murderer with a gun. Behind door #2 is a drug dealer with a joint. The doors are clearly labeled. You must open one door. Intelligent people have a survival rate of 100 per cent. I estimate your chances as 50/50.

    Jeff

  • ||

    thoreau's post convinced me. We just have to keep prosecuting the WOsD. If we end it, the unemployed JBT's will end up as waiters at TGIF or the Olive Garden, and I don't think I could handle that. LOL

  • ||

    Why RandMAn? THe service would undoubtedly improve as the dealers displace some of their best customers.

  • ||

    "They are an attempt to use law enforcement to deal with a health issue, IMHO."

    So any bets on how many years before burger-flippers at McDonalds are rounded-up and thrown in jail?

  • ||

    The victims of the Drug War are much more every day average Joes than we seem to be acknowledging here.

    Among the casualties are average guys who get busted in their silly youth, and can't work in certain industries because of it or for certain employers. ...or they get seperated from their families, or have terrible things happen to them in prison, etc.

    ...all just to placate that paranoid, vicious, media obsessed sector of society we call Soccer Moms?

  • ||

    If more people did less drugs you'd probably have less religous fanatics.

    "Because god spoke to me!"

    "Yeah yeah, big deal. God spoke to me too."

    "Did it change your life?"

    "No. After 10 hits of acid I knew my brain wasn't working correctly, so I didn't base my life on a delusion"

  • ||

    I imagine some drug dealers are people without any ability to qualify for a legal job. If drug dealing became legal I wonder if they would even qualify for that job.

  • ||

    I imagine some drug dealers are people without any ability to qualify for a legal job.

    There are people in every profession who are talentless. Being successful at dealing drugs is not easier than any number of "legitimate" jobs.

  • ||

    OK. I've been stymied by Jaunita references before, and now they abound. What's the meaning of the metaphorical "Juanita"?

  • ||

    Don't you know? It's the good shit, Peruvian Snow.

  • ||

    Ok, that was much funnier when the url attribute was actually in the post.

    http://www.mummytombs.com/mummylocator/featured/juanita.htm

    Yeah yeah.

  • ||

    Does that mean I have the right to claim to be a victim when the police give me a ticket for doing 110?

    I do all the time.

  • ||

    John,
    I really don't have any sympathy for drug dealers either. I don't do drugs, and I never have. If all drug dealers were to die tommorrow, that would just be an interesting news story to me.

    I don't oppose the war on drugs out of sympathy to drug dealers, I oppose it because it makes my supposed to be free country into a police state. Because it wastes my taxpayer dollars, and because it is harmful to so many facets of society that I can't even mention in one post.

    I oppose the war on drugs because it does more harm than good. As should you.

  • ||

    Even in societies most of us would consider poor, people waste a large portion of their time and treasure on scarification, genital mutilation, tatoos, and other cheap thrills too numerous...
    In societies like the US, where folks have more money than sense, treasure is wasted on police, jails, and making sure that those less fortunate among us are prohibited from "attitude modulation."
    What's the difference between what we do and genital mutilation?
    How the rich blow their money may be obscene, but how their society blows the money of the ignorant middle-class (which is the real source of funds) is obscene squared, because the middle-class is having it's pocket picked and a portion of the proceeds (after graft, etc.) are going to the equivalent of putting toothpicks into eyelids of aforesaid middle-class.
    Like Vicks VaporRub and many other "remedies" foisted on the hoi polloi, to know it's working, it must "tingle."

    Tingle must end.
    Down with tingle. Up with attitude modulation and titillation.
    Can ah get an amen?

  • ||

    Amen!

  • ||

    My point is that you are kidding yourself if you think that making drugs legal is going to necessarily lower the prison population. Since drugs are illegal, their use and distribution tends to attract criminals. Indeed, this is one of the main arguments for drug legalization. If drugs were legal, legimate people would produce and distribute them and the criminal element would have to find another way to make money.

    Having worked in a DAs office on the front line of the drug war, my experience was that the people who were being convicted for drug offenses weren't generally law abiding citizens to begin with. They were criminals, who when they weren't stealing cars, writing hot checks, breaking into houses or beating the shit out of their girlfriends sold drugs. Yes, there are innocent people who fall into the fringes of the drug culture and get caught up in the legal system unjustly, but they are the minority. The vast majority of people arrested for drug crimes, in my experience were just criminals.

    If drugs were legalized and all of the drug offenders let out of prison, I bet dollars to donuts that at least 2/3s of them will be right back in prison with in a few years for other offenses. They won't be able to sell drugs anymore, so they will move onto other criminal activity because that is what they do.

    The large prison population may not be a function of the drug war. Instead, it may be a function of our having a very large criminal segment to our society. We are just catching on drug offenses right now. If we legalize drugs, we will be catching them for something else. That doesn't mean that we should not legalize drugs. It just means that you shouldn't kid yourself into thinking that we won't still have a large prison population.

  • ||

    It may or may not be easy to sell illegal drugs but the financial rewards can be spectacular. Where else can someone with no education or connection to legal society make big money that quick? That is my point. Its big money and that is why people do it.

    The difference between a political disident and a drug dealer is that the political disident is trying to change the system and making a political statement. I stated above, that if someone wants to protest the laws against illegal drugs then do so through non-violent resistence or open disregard for them. To disobey the laws just to get rich is not the same thing as someone in China trying to open the political system. My question to you, is by your standard what laws shouldn't be broken? If someone feels insider trading laws are immoral, does that then make them a victim when they knowingly break the laws and make a few 100 million? According to your stanard it would. If drug dealers are political prisoners, Michael Milkin is too. There has to be some form of obligation under the social contract. Citizens have an absolute right to object to laws and try to change. The do not have a right to arbitrarily break laws that they don't agree with. This goes to your other questions regarding whether the government owns your body. This question goes to whether or not drugs ought to be legal. I have stated several times I think that they probably ought to be, but that is not my point. The point is that people cannot just break any law they disagree with and then act shocked when the government enforces that law. Whether or not its a good law, has nothing to do with it. I am not advocating the drug war. I am saying that dealing drugs is not a proper response to it.

  • ||

    They were criminals, who when they weren't stealing cars, writing hot checks, breaking into houses or beating the shit out of their girlfriends sold drugs.

    If so, then prosecute them for stealing cars, writing hot checks, breaking into houses, and beating the shit out of their girlfriends. Take all the resouces being poured into the Sisyphean task of drug interdiction and put them into catching thieves, frauds, and batterers.

    And purge the system of all the scum who work on both sides of the law. They'll be easy to spot: After drugs are legalized they'll suddenly scale back their lifestyles, and you'll finally understand how they lived so well on public salaries.

    And there are some bad people who will become much, much more benign if drugs are legal: Warlords, guerrillas, etc. Let's bankrupt the Central Asian warlords who threaten regional stability, let's end South America's guerrilla wars, and let's force the leaders of organized crime to tighten their belts.

    And if professional criminals (including their friends in the public sector) find other black markets to exploit, then let's legalize prostitution, roll back gambling laws even more, roll back laws on all porn except child porn, lower cigarette taxes (apparently some terrorists sell untaxed cigarettes), and generally eliminate as many revenue streams as possible for them.

    If more of them start going into robbery, well, let's roll back the gun laws and let the citizens deal with criminals on an even footing.

    Finally, when all they have left for money is credit card fraud and similar crimes, well, we can attack it with all of the law enforcement resources that used to be dedicated to publicly-created problems (lucrative black markets, disarmed citizens vulnerable to robbery, etc.).

    See, John, we libertarians really do have an anti-crime agenda, and our anti-crime agenda will deliver better results for less money.

  • ||

    If so, then prosecute them for stealing cars, writing hot checks, breaking into houses, and beating the shit out of their girlfriends. Take all the resouces being poured into the Sisyphean task of drug interdiction and put them into catching thieves, frauds, and batterers

    I am sure we would Thoreau, that is my point. We would just catch them on something else and still have a huge prison population.

  • ||

    I disagree that the prison population would be as large as it is now. But whatever the size winds up to be, those in prison would be there for harming others.

    Those taking drugs for pain wouldn't be there. Users wouldn't be there (at least for the use). Innocent victims wouldn't be there.

    The vast civil forfeiture laws that put your property at risk could be dismantled.

    A definite improvement

    Jeff

  • daksya||

    John - "Isn't it more likely that they mean the U.S. has social problems and high rates of criminality that have nothing to do with our legal system?"

    The chief difference between 1980 and 2000 are the punitive Reagan drug laws (like mandatory minimums).

  • ||

    It may or may not be easy to sell illegal drugs but the financial rewards can be spectacular. Where else can someone with no education or connection to legal society make big money that quick? That is my point.

    I think it's a weak point. There are plenty of people in show business and sports, among other professions, who have no education and make millions. Earlier you said

    The vast majority of the people in jail on drug offenses, however, are people who are too lazy to work for a living...

    Now you say that may or may not be true. In other words, you kinda pulled that out of your ass.

    Whether or not its a good law, has nothing to do with it. I am not advocating the drug war. I am saying that dealing drugs is not a proper response to it.

    I think what you're saying is that we should do what the government tells us, even if the government is wrong. That philosophy would have kept us a colony of England. It's why Nazi Germany thrived. It was essential to Stalin's and Mao's survival.

  • ||

    John,

    You assert that most drug users (who go to prison as often, if not more, than dealers) are criminals anyway. Considering your previous assertion that drug dealers are lazy was baseless and false, I think you provide some evidence to demonstrate your claim that most drug users break many other laws as well.

  • daksya||

    John, another point.

    It may or may not be easy to sell illegal drugs but the financial rewards can be spectacular.

    As was outlined in the book Freakonomics, and more authoritatively in the secret 10 Downing Street report (on my blog; click on username), only distributors and importers make "spectacular" money.

  • ||

    "I am sure we would Thoreau, that is my point. We would just catch them on something else and still have a huge prison population."

    John,
    The ignorant money that runs politics wants a huge prison population, granted.
    Owners of that money are the Chevy Chases, and the hoi polloi, with their criminal record, are not.

    Defining the War on Drugs as insanity just as you define "crime" as drug distribution, would put a big scotch/grain-of-grit into what is now passing for thinking.

    "Thinking" (or pretending to) is still cool on both sides of this issue. It is how we can come together.

    The humble job of the keepers of the flame here, the Vestal Voigins, is to put some grit into the grease with which the Chevy Chases grease the skids to prison.

    Answer this, John,
    Are you satisfied with a rapidly growing prison population? Out yourself.

  • ||

    Having worked in a DAs office on the front line of the drug war...

    Why doesn't it suprise me that John is in with the fucking pigs?

  • ||

    akira,

    It doesn't surpise me that you are an idiot.

  • ||

    John, if drug laws became sane, there might be a renewed respect for the police. If all the cops did was arrest murders and rapists, most people would not refer to them as "pigs" - they would be "heros". Many kids would not cross the line into the underworld if they weren't already labeled as criminals for commiting relatively harmless, victimless crimes. They would then tend to not associate with truely bad apples and become that way themselves - one bad one really can spoil the barrel. We need to keep our bad apples separate from the good. Imo, stupid laws blur the distinction between right and wrong for impressionable youth.

  • ||

    Answer this, John,
    Are you satisfied with a rapidly growing prison population?

    No I am not. But I don't think getting rid of laws is going to help, unless you really want to just have anarchy. I wish we did not have such a criminal underclass. The fact is that the skyrocketing incarceration rate has corrisponded to a dramatic fall in the crime rate says that there is more going on here than a bunch of otherwise innocent people going down on drug charges. I am not happy with the huge incarceration rate, but I will take it over 1970s level crime rates. The ideal of course would be low crime and low incarceration. I am just not sure how we get there.

  • ||

    BigBigSlacker,

    I hope you are right.

  • ||

    I like kwais' comment--the Drug War just isn't worth the cost. ...and it does more harm than good.

    And throwin' people in prison just 'cause you don't like what they do for a living is pathetic. ...and that's what it comes down to.

    ...all those vicious Soccer Moms 'd throw us all in jail if they thought it would make their children eat more vegetables.

  • ||

    tom,

    We have had a huge drop on violent crime and other crimes that has corrisponded to the huge rise in prison population, which someone on here rightly pointed out was largely the result of the Reagan drug laws. This all goes to my original point that a lot of these people are committing other crimes and would go to prison for those crimes, they just happened to get caught for drugs. Eliminate the drug laws and they still end up in the same place and we are still stuck with a huge prison population.

  • ||

    As I stated already, I don't engage in recreational drug use. However, even as someone who doesn't have much desire to mess with drugs, I am disconcerted by the drug war for the following reasons:
    ----------------------

    1)Prescription drugs that are even mildly narcotic are controlled in such a manner as to drive up prices and limit supply to the average consumer.

    2)Doctors are now becoming so worried by the feds' crackdown on supposedly "illegal" prescriptions of Schedule II and III narcotics that they are often times hesitant to prescribe proper dosage levels. In other words, medical practitioners are not free to set dosage levels of narcotic pain killers for someone suffering from terminal cancer, lest the feds think that they're dealing drugs.

    Put another way: If you are injured or contract an illness that requires the use of such drugs, your dosage is likely to be set low because the doctor isn't the one making the ultimate decision as to what is a medically safe dosage level. That decision is now made by some gov't feeb with little or no medical background.

    3)Asset forfeiture laws. You may have civil rights, but your property doesn't. So even if you're found innocent, you still have to take on the state to get your stuff back.

    4)Abrogation of the spirit of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. For more info, see #3 above.

    5)Increased crime. As a direct result of drug prohibition, those who deal in illegal narcotics are likely to engage in vicious turf wars. In the late 1800's and early 1900's many extremely potent narcotics were available at your local druggist. How come the violence between peddlers of the exact same narcotics wasn't anywhere near what it is today?

    6)Increased tax burden to fund the so-called "War On Drugs." Multiple billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent prosecuting this utterly braindead attempt at modern puritanism, and absolutely none of it has kept Johnnie the 15 year old wasteoid from scoring a dimebag for a reasonable price.

    7)Increased call for gun control. How many times have politicians, talking heads, and self-appointed "experts" gotten in front of the cameras to blather on about how cheap and concealable handguns, expensive and large "assault rifles," "high capacity" magazines, Tec-9's, UZI's, AK47's etc. etc. ad naseum, ad infinitum are "the most popular weapon/item for criminals and drug dealers." How many gun control laws have been passed as a result of gang violence that is perpetuated by the illegal black market for recreational narcotics?

    ________________________

    John, as someone who doesn't engage in recreational drug use, I believe you and your ilk owe me a fucking explanation as to why my civil rights have been damn near razed, even though I am an upstanding, law-abiding citizen.

  • ||

    Eliminate the drug laws and they still end up in the same place and we are still stuck with a huge prison population.

    With zero evidence to suggest that drug users are breaking other laws, it's hard to take this seriously.

  • ||

    akira,

    It doesn't surpise me that you are an idiot.

    That's pretty funny coming from someone who's arguments are self-contradictory and circular in nature.

  • ||

    With zero evidence to suggest that drug users are breaking other laws, it's hard to take this seriously.

    Explain then why crime has dropped so much as we have incarcerated more and more drug users?

  • ||

    Take your best shot mediageek, if you think your so bad. Line right up with the rest of the free Mumia crowd.

  • ||

    Mediageek,


    I don't no how many times I have to tell you morons that I think that drugs probably ought to be illegal. So all of your points while true are completely irrelevent. I have two points. One, Drug dealers and users tend to be criminals and will end up in jail for other crimes, so loosing the drug laws isn't going to neccessarily reduce the prison population and two, just because you disagree with the drug laws and they are dumb laws doesn't give you a right to break them with impunity.

  • ||

    MediaGeek,

    I don't know how many times I have to tell you morons that I do not think drugs should be illegal. All of your points, while valid, are irrelevent because I don't consider drug laws to be good laws. I have made two points.

    1. That drug users and dealers tend to commit other crimes so that even if we eliminate the drug laws we still are going to be stuck with a huge prison population.

    2. Just because the drug laws are stupid doesn't give people the right to break them with impunity and I have zero sympathy for those who do and get caught even though I think the laws are wrong.

  • ||

    Is that honestly the fucking best you can do?

    To accuse me of being a member of the free Mumia crowd?

    I would honestly expect someone who supposedly works in a DA's office to do better than that. To, you know, maybe exhibit the ability to think rationally.

    Hmph.

    Fucking.

    Pathetic.

  • ||

    Read the other posts mediageek, if you are able to do that

  • ||

    Explain then why crime has dropped so much as we have incarcerated more and more drug users?

    I would suspect that the continued liberalization of concealed carry laws across the length and breadth of this nation would have more to do with it than throwing Johnny Pothead in the slammer.

  • ||

    Media Geek

    NYC has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country and no conceal and carry, yet the crime rate dropped dramatically in the 1990s. True more guns equals less crime, but crime has dropped everywhere even in places that have stupid gun control laws.

  • ||

    1. That drug users and dealers tend to commit other crimes so that even if we eliminate the drug laws we still are going to be stuck with a huge prison population.

    SFW? At least then you'd be locking them up for committing legitimate crimes that involve, you know, infringing on others' civil rights.

    2. Just because the drug laws are stupid doesn't give people the right to break them with impunity and I have zero sympathy for those who do and get caught even though I think the laws are wrong.

    Now you're simply playing the apologist card. You have no sympathy for someone who gets busted with pot and convicted of a felony, which means he loses his right to, say, vote?

  • ||

    Expounding on the last point in my last point, I must ask, how do you expect there to be honest reform if those people who have the most visceral vested interest in changing the system are prohibited from exercising their franchise?

  • ||

    NYC has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country and no conceal and carry, yet the crime rate dropped dramatically in the 1990s. True more guns equals less crime, but crime has dropped everywhere even in places that have stupid gun control laws.

    Guiliani is well known for having having upped the prosecution of many, many infractions of even minor law in New York City.

    Whereas Dinkins was evidently busy looking the other way, Guiliani was commanding the boys in blue to stick their snout into even the slightest bit of lawbreaking. At least that's the impression I get.

  • ||

    (Apologies for posting all like GG)

    Again, I ask you, why should I be forced to give up my civil rights in the name of prosecuting the war on drugs?

  • dhex||

    if drugs are outlawed only outlaws will have drugs.

    and cia guys. but mostly outlaws.

  • dhex||

    john, you may also with to look into the whole pirate/global warming connection.

  • daksya||

    John - "That drug users and dealers tend to commit other crimes so that even if we eliminate the drug laws we still are going to be stuck with a huge prison population."

    Assuming (maybe incorrectly) that most of the nonviolent drug offenders are convicted on the basis of possession*, your contention may not hold true anymore, since cops will have to catch the perps in the act or with evidence.

    *By which I mean that even when you arrest a pot-grower/dealer/user, you usually catch them with the drugs. Since possession itself is a crime, an arrest means that the state will win, whether the end result is treatment, jail or community service..etc. I doubt that once drugs are legalized, whether these same criminals will be put behind bars, as easily.

  • ||

    Every drug offender in prison is a failure of the system, John. It means one or more of the following is true:

    1) The person in prison wouldn't have harmed others but he's there anyway.

    2) He did harm others, but those crimes have gone unpunished.

    3) He was involved in a criminal market driven underground by our government so that corrupt public servants and their crime lord paymasters could benefit.

    Also, John, for all I know the massive incarceration of drug offenders may very well be responsible for a drop in crime. But you'll need some serious numbers to support that. Show me a state-by-state breakdown of crimes and drug convictions. Show that drops in crime are correlated with drug convictions, and show that the drop comes after the bump in the number of drug offenders in prison. (Yeah, I know, correlation is not causation, but when combined with a time lag that's consistent across the sample it starts to mean a whole lot more.) And control for things like gun laws, the age profile of the population (older men just aren't as likely to break the law), education, income, etc.

    You do that, and I'll consider your point. Or show me somebody who's done that.

    Finally, the drug war may very well be responsible for getting some scum off the street. It's also responsible for the black market that feeds street gangs, mobsters, Afghan warlords, and South American guerrillas. The drug war is causing a hell of a lot of violence, and the amount that it's actually preventing remains, well, dubious.

    I'd love to see some Taliban guys on the freeway offramp with signs saying "Will hijack for food." And standing next to them the customs inspectors that they used to bribe to get the heroin shipments into the US. That is why I am so big on legalization!

  • ||

    But, if heroin becomes legal, how will I buy guns to kill infidels with?

  • ||

    I don't no how many times I have to tell you morons that I think that drugs probably ought to be illegal. So all of your points while true are completely irrelevent. I have two points. One, Drug dealers and users tend to be criminals and will end up in jail for other crimes, so loosing the drug laws isn't going to neccessarily reduce the prison population and two, just because you disagree with the drug laws and they are dumb laws doesn't give you a right to break them with impunity.

    The irony of the writer of the preceding paragraph, with its misspellings of "know" ("no"), "irrelevant" ("irrelevent"), and either "losing" or "loosening" ("loosing"), plus writing "illegal" when he clearly meant "legal," calling other people "morons" is utterly fucking delicious.

    P.S. John, can I assume you always drive at or under the speed limit everywhere it is posted? After all, just because you think speed limits are dumb doesn't give you the right to break them.

  • ||

    I think you guys need to cut John a little slack here. He's admitted repeatedly that he's pro legalization - he's on our side. I do think there's some truth to the notion that the illegal status of drugs is self selecting for the criminal element. However I think there would be some reduction in prison population, post legalization, for the following reasons -

    1) No huge profit motive for violence (the violence itself is costly and risky thus even the criminally predisposed may not be motivated if it isn't worth the risk)

    2) Drug dealing won't be a profitable opportunity for poor underclass youth that attracts them to a criminal livelyhood

    3) In general use of drugs won't involve forced association with the criminal underclass, also a potential youth-corrupting opportunity.

    Going with the 'self selection' theme I would believe that most of the people that ended up going through the DA's office where John worked probably were nailed with drug charges while doing other illegal things. After all it is the very nature of the 'victimless' crime that makes it hard to find. Most of the non-violent drug dealers and users out there pretty much keep to themselves and are out of the exposure that gets them caught by the police (undercover narc work notwithstanding). Thus that may go along with John's argument that we might not see a big drop in prison population, but we would benefit from a large chunk of the population being able to breathe a sign of relief that they no longer risk incarceration over pharmaceutical preferences.

    BTW all of you need to read 'Freakonomics' - it pretty much cuts through some of the myths of the causes of the decrease in crime (including larger prison populations, gun control, etc). Turns out the most plausible explanation is the legalization of abortion resulted in fewer unwanted children that are predisposed to a criminal life, thus the sudden unexplained drop in crime 20 years after when such children would have reached the age they are mostly likely to engage in criminal behavior.

    Also the book contains an interesting investigation into drug dealer economics (chapter title: Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with their Moms?) that supports my contention in point 1) above.

  • ||

    "I'd love to see some Taliban guys on the freeway offramp with signs saying "Will hijack for food." And standing next to them the customs inspectors that they used to bribe to get the heroin shipments into the US. That is why I am so big on legalization"

    The poppy trade is funny, especially considering that most legal prescription opiates don't come from poppies (they are manufactured synthetically) and yet heroin still seems to depend on Afghan poppies etc.. Ok, no real point here, just wondering if it would be possible to manufacture heroin synthetically.

  • ||

    ...estimates that more than 530,000 people were behind bars for drug offenses in the U.S. at the end of last year. Drug offenders accounted for about 25 percent of jail inmates, 21 percent of state prison inmates, and 55 percent of federal prison inmates.

    This is a tragedy and a miscarriage of justice! It's just sick. Drug laws are an offence against individual liberty. There is no excuse for them. Legalize all drugs now!

  • version of drf with long hair||

    But Rick, doing that will get the internet tough guy, "John" on your case. Look how he smacked down MediaGeek, what with misspelling "you're" as "your" even! I tell ya, the man is not only unusually muscle bound, he's a brainiac with words, too!

    See Phil's comments for further examples of Mr. Port-a-potty's verbal prowess. If his written abilities are any indicator, we can only imagine the incisor-scrapes-on-the-unit we'd get from his oral abilities.......

    :)

  • ||

    We have had a huge drop on violent crime and other crimes that has corrisponded to the huge rise in prison population, which someone on here rightly pointed out was largely the result of the Reagan drug laws.

    Somethin' in there smells like cum hoc ergo propter hoc to me.

    Back in the late eighties, I remember sittin' in an Econ 101 class talkin' about Bush the Elder's "kingpin" law and the resulting escalation in cocaine related violence. ...You seem to ignore the amount of violence the illegality of the drug trade encourages.

    ...That being said, I remain unconvinced a) that we can associate drops in violent crime rate with escalations in the Drug War and b) that even if we can associate drops in the rate of violent crime with with the escalation of the Drug War, I suspect other factors--like the economy in general--are probably greater factors.

    I worked on the outer edge of what we used to call South Central LA back in the very early nineties. Within a year and a half of each other, the store owners on three of the four corners I worked on died as a result of gun shot wounds sustained during armed robberies. ...The economy was terrible in Los Angeles at the time--does the state of the economy have anything to do with violent crime?

  • ||

    Drug dealers and users tend to be criminals

    I think with dealers, the tendency might be higher, but that's still not necessarily true.

    With users, I don't think you can assert that. I've admitted that I use some illegal drugs. I am not otherwise criminally disposed. In the environment I hang out in, almost everyone I know has at least used drugs in the past. A good deal of them still smoke weed and many use other substances as well. Not one of them is a criminal that I know of -- most hold steady, "legitimate" jobs. A few are in the military. This is anecdotal evidence, I suppose -- I'm hardly acquainted with a huge cross-section of the population. But I do not associate with thieves, rapists, murderers, gang-bangers, etc. And I think of the many people I do associate with, the ones that are completely drug-free are in the minority.

  • ||

    Regarding the decrease in crime. Look at private security. Spending there has risen dramatically over the past several decades.

    About 30 years ago alarm systems in homes began to gain in popularity. Now they're everywhere, many of them monitored.

  • taktix||

    It's clear that a criminal is more likely to use drugs, but a drug user is not more likely to commit crimes.

    Unfortunately for guberment-types, the two terms are interchangable.

  • ||

    John said:
    "But I don't think getting rid of laws is going to help, unless you really want to just have anarchy."

    Thanks to John for persistently representing the lack of thinking we're up against. He thinks laws are the causes of progress in society. It's like saying bulls (the animals) are the causes of rising stock markets.

    (And I really want to just have anarchy, thank you.)

  • ||

    I was under the impression that the factor that explains the most variance in crime rates, both geographically and temporally, is the state of the economy. That explains more than gun laws, drug laws, other crime laws, etc. I don't have any documentation to support that, but I'm a nice guy, so you can trust me. Or better yet, maybe someone here knows where to find those sorts of data/studies.

  • ||

    Also, John says that legalizing most/all drugs won't have a significant effect on the prison population because people imprisoned for drug offenses tend to be criminal types to start with. He estimates that 2/3 of them would be in prison regardless ("I bet dollars to donuts that at least 2/3s of them will be right back in prison with in a few years for other offenses").

    I'm inclined to believe this number would be considerably smaller (because most drug offenders are in prison on marijuana related charges, because a sizeable minority are in just for use/possession, because I think prohibition helps create a criminal culture around the banned item/practice that goes beyond just breaking prohibition laws,...). But I don't have any numbers to back that up, and whatever I pull out of my ass won't be any better than what comes out of John's ass; so let's stick with 2/3.

    Given that more than half of federal prisoners are in on drug charges, even a 1/3 decrease in that group would be huge - an almost 20% decrease in the total federal prison population, and all the improvements in safety, prison living conditions, and money savings that would accompany it. That seems pretty significant to me.

  • ||

    Thanks to John for persistently representing the lack of thinking we're up against.

    Yeah, well, when your side has the monopoly of force, it's pretty easy to fall into the trap of sloppy, irrational thinking.

  • Jason Sonenshein||

    ...so no one else steals my idear.

    Smacky, did you go to the John Kerry school of diction? (:

  • ||

    "How the rich blow their money may be obscene, but how their society blows the money of the ignorant middle-class (which is the real source of funds) is obscene squared, because the middle-class is having it's pocket picked and a portion of the proceeds (after graft, etc.) are going to the equivalent of putting toothpicks into eyelids of aforesaid middle-class."

    Above is a quote from yours truly lifted from above.

    What the John's of the world fail to grasp is that wealthy societies can define more and more "crime" into existence.
    Singapore is wealthy, and chewing gum there is a "crime."
    The difference between Singapore and the US is that the US is SO wealthy it can not only pull "crime" out its ass. It can go on and sentence faux criminals to prison for an insane term.

    So, before we waste too much time searching for better "crime" statistics, we need to agree on what crime really is.
    Even then, we need to acknowledge statistics are provided mainly from those pulling "crime" out their asses.

  • SteveInClearwater||

    JOHN's experience as a prosecutor runs counter to the attitudes of the former prosecutors we have working with us at LEAP http://leap.cc/tbay

    These long-time prosecutors concur with the shared experience of the many police and judges who make up our membership.

    That is, given that multi-billion dollar per year drug market is not going away, we are faced with two choices.

    1) A legal, regulated system of distribution.

    2) An illegal, completely unregulated system of distribution.

    We've elected to use #2 for the vast majority of popular drugs consumed by Americans.

    However, for a shorter list of politicaly incorrect drugs, there is an irrational belief expressed by Prohibitionists that #1 is suddenly a preferable response.

    Moving drug dealing off the streets and into a legal, regulated system will not eliminate the various problems related to drug use and abuse in our society.

    But we did not end the Prohibition of America's most commonly abused drug - alcohol - in 1934 because anyone suddenly thought, "Legalizing booze will eliminate problems."

    Rather, we did it to put the illegal dealers out of the alcohol business.

    And we were 99.9% successful.

    Perhaps current illegal drug dealers will in fact seek out other illicit business opportunities when drug Prohibition is repealed.

    But they'll have to really use some creativity to find a product or service that is in demand from literally tens of millions of Americans.

    Failing sufficient demand, there ability to make big time money is greatly curtailed.

    I'd appreciate hearing from anyone that can help us create more speaking venues for LEAP speakers.

    We specialize in local civic clubs, school and church groups.

    Steve

  • ||

    John's point seems to be that:

    1) Lots of the guys caught under prohibition laws are bad people anyway, so it's no big deal that we have 500,000+ drug offenders in prison.

    2) The law is the law, so obey it no matter how idiotic and illiberal it is.

    Thing is, point #1 reminds me of two relatives of mine who both had drug addictions at some point in their lives.

    One of them got into a lot of trouble, committed a lot of other crimes, went to jail now and then (never all that long, because he can talk his way out of anything), and was generally the embodiment of the men that John is describing. (He eventually went clean, FWIW, and it was because he had kids, not because the law finally Taught Him A Lesson. He's still a sleazy guy, hence he's a salesman, but at least he's a law-abiding salesman.)

    The other one was married to a rich guy. She cleaned up when she realized that enough was enough. The law never, ever touched her. (FWIW, her ex-husband is the scum of the earth, and I doubt that he's very scrupulous in the way he runs his businesses.)

    So, basically, the drug war was used as a convenient tool to go after a common criminal, because actually investigating and prosecuting a theft case would be too much hard work for the cops and prosecutors. Why try to solve real crimes when they could just lock up any guy who fits a profile and happens to have drugs in his pockets? (For the record, I would have zero sympathy if he had been locked up for theft, but since he tended to steal from co-dependent relatives there was usually a shortage of willing witnesses.)

    And my addict aunt and her addict ex-husband? Well, they aren't the sort of people that the cops are interested in. He may be an abuser and businessman of questionable character, but he's a white guy with money who doesn't rock any boats and knows important people, so he's untouchable.

    Face it: The drug war is a tool for keeping "the wrong sort" in line. John's comments just reinforce that. Cuz, you know, solving thefts is hard work.

  • ||

    Oh, I should add that I don't have a lot of sympathy for thieves who go to prison for drug possession. But if solving thefts is hard work, so the prosecutors rely on drug charges to get these guys, the lesson for thieves is to conceal their drugs really well and they'll probably be OK.

    I'd rather send thieves some other sort of lesson. Like, say, all of the narcs have been retasked and they will relentlessly investigate any and all thefts, rapes, murders, assaults, frauds, etc.

  • ||

    John:

    People sale drugs because you can make tons of money at it and they don't want work for it at a legitimate job or if they have a legitimate job, they want more money than they can make at that job.

    It's the illegality that makes selling drugs so profitable. Not Legitimate? Do you consider the selling of alcohol to be not legitimate?

    That drug users and dealers tend to commit other crimes so that even if we eliminate the drug laws we still are going to be stuck with a huge prison population.

    But that is largely the fault of the laws themselves. Because of the laws, prices are so high that addicts turn to crime to finance their addictions. And how do drug dealers arbitrate disputes? or the courts. They can't very well go to the police or the courts! It's also a "transfer of training" thing. Being in confrontation with law enforcement vis a vis drugs makes it easier to then choose other illeagal activities.

    Just because the drug laws are stupid doesn't give people the right to break them with impunity and I have zero sympathy for those who do and get caught even though I think the laws are wrong.

    What?? Laws against victimless crimes can claim no ethical high ground. It's exactly because they are stupid laws that give people the right to break them with impunity. But for real impunity, we have to do away with these bad laws. Previously, in some localities, it was a crime to teach Black folks how to read and a crime for Blacks and Whites to have sex. Now do you really think that just cuz it's the government that oversaw those proscriptions, that folks weren't right to break those laws?

  • ||

    Hi drf with long hair! Tonight I'm Colorado Rick, Indiana Jones' libertarian, genius cousin. Well, the libertarian part is true. But I'll intro myself that way and see what happens.

  • ||

    jr-

    Synthetic heroine? Yeah, it's called METHADONE.

  • ||

    Maybe I can help illuminate one of John's points, because it's a POV I held myself not so many years ago.

    Why so little sympathy for people who get arrested for buying, selling or possessing illegal drugs? Because -- with the important exception of things like medical marijuana -- these people are mostly breaking the law for the sake of a form of recreation. This isn't morally equivalent to, say, getting busted by the stormtroopers for hiding Anne Frank in your closet or publishing a newspaper article that blows the lid off of government corruption in a country with a controlled press, or even smuggling Bibles to oppressed religious people in China. Drug crimes are about getting high and/or making a little money.

    Therefore, nost non-drug-users are going to have a hard time seeing it as heroic in anyway, or the offenders as "political criminals."

    Hence, people like John have this attitude: If you're breaking the law merely for the sake of getting a buzz or to make a lot of money in a shady way, aren't you just being stupid? How can it be worth it? So just give up the illegal activity or avoid it in the first place.

    Moreover, the stereotypical drug dealer is an unsavory type. The drug laws restrict the supply but don't directly reduce the demand, thereby artificially raising the prices. This high risk/high price set-up attracts people who either like risky situations or, more likely, aren't very good at weighing risk. This type of person overlaps a lot with "the criminal class."

    However -- and John, this is the part you should pay attention to -- note that it's the drug laws in the first place that encourage criminal types to get involved in the drug trade. Which, like kwais said, is why even non-drug-users should be against the Drug War. It makes the problems worse instead of better, and it sucks up resources that could be used for dealing with more serious crimes, and it also serves as a pretext for all kinds of rights violations.

    Alcohol prohibition should provide an instructive example. You could just as easily say, "If drinking alcohol is illegal, then just don't drink." Bootleggers and smugglers and mobsters and people who just can't seem to get through life without a drink may not be the most sympathetic people in the world, either. But it was the Prohibition laws that got gangsters into the alcoholo trade to begin with. And we were better off without Prohibition than with it.

    ----------

    PS: As I wrote this, it occurred to me that the attitude of many non-drug-users toward drug use has some parallels with the attitude of some atheists toward religion.

    1) They over-perceive the impairment. "How can you use that stuff? It rots your brain! It prevents you from thinking rationally! How can you possibly function in the everyday activities of modern society, let alone make a contribution to it?"

    2) They under-perceive the benefits: "What can that possibly do for you? How can it possibly be worth it?"

    3) They under-perceive the attachment: "I'm sure that with just a little logical persuasion, or failing that, just a little bit of justified coercion, I could make you give that stuff up for good."

  • ||

    P.S. Love Libertarianism. Just can't stand the way the majority of them kiss oil exec's and oil companies butt's.

    Come around to American Farmers competing against oil by growing hemp, and your base might just grow by a whole lot more.

    - Brad.

  • drf with imagined long hair||

    excellent, Rick!

    and have lots of fun!

    i was guessing some sort of "Monsieur Rick" for you, and we could have Fyodor be Paul Henried's character... (Major Strasser)

    :)

    (long hair was just for fun. don't have any)

  • Last One Speaks||

    I'm late getting into this, but as someone who worked for 18 years on the defense side of the law, I can tell you unequivocally that the majority of drug defendants are honest, otherwise law abiding citizens who work day jobs and contribute to their community. They have to be, to afford our rates.

    97 million Americans have admitted to smoking marijuana. Millions more are afraid to come forward because they have too much to lose - and I mean doctors, lawyers, business owners and other professionals that would lose their livelihood if they are caught. Are we really to believe that ALL these citizens are criminals? It's hogwash, invented by those who profit from the prohibition.

    The war on drugs does NOT keep drugs off the streets, it fosters a thriving black market and yes, there are some dealers and even users that commit crimes, but the users are generally addicts that commit property crimes to afford their fix and the dealers commit violent crimes to protect their turf, not unlike the violence that surrounded the underground alcohol market during Prohibition One.

    Criminalizing addicts will not solve drug abuse. As someone pointed out, economic conditions drives criminality, drug addiction is more a symptom of the social breakdown between the haves and the have nots, not a cause of the breakdown. Those who end up in jail are largely the poor who can't afford good lawyers, but there are far too many educated and honest middle level dealers who end up with long sentences on dubious conspiracy charges facilitated by dubious informants who seek to spare themselves long sentences by delivering what the DA wants.

    There is no nexus between lower crime rates and drug convictions. The former has been dropping for a long time while the latter continues to rise disproportionately in response to "tough on drugs" legislation that renders draconian sentences for small amounts of drugs, incarcerating substance consumers while releasing violent perps, pedophiles and other psychotics to make room for them. An inmate can be languishing in prison for years for possession of a couple of joints, or a weekend's worth of powder drugs while your average child molester gets out in less than the half the time. Does this serve society?

    Our government is spending $40 billion a year on chasing drug consumers, most of whom use these substances responsibly with no harm to you. It ties up our court system, it takes hundreds of thousands of productive citizens and moves them from contributing to tax base to draining it, while your schools, police and fire departments pay the price in reduced funding.

    For police this is mitigated to some extent by the legalized highway robbery called forfeiture - a dangerous law that should be revoked. It encourages bad busts since they're allowed to seize without even proving a crime and it's up to the property in question to prove it's innocence in direct contradiction to the foundation of our justice system that promises we're innocent until proven guilty. They get to keep a lot of that property because it's often more expensive to fight the seizure than the property is worth. The police then spend these "windfalls" on fancy equipment. This is why you now have every podunk town in America with a masked SWAT team busting into homes to serve warrants in the dead of night and a rising count of botched raids that result in the death of innocent people.

    The bottom line is the war on some drugs is an abject failure with its roots sunk deep in racism. It doesn't protect society, it puts you in more danger. Those of us who would reform drug policy aren't asking to remove the laws around drugs, we're suggesting the laws be changed to reflect reality. And the reality is, humankind has been using mind altering substances since the beginning of time. You cannot and will never eliminate demand. If you could incarcerate your way out of drug use, it would have worked in the last 80 years. It simply hasn't.

    No one is arguing that drug use is good for you. Neither is alcohol abuse, or cigarette smoking or taking too much aspirin. If we stop criminalizing personal behavior and instead legalize, regulate and control the market and provide treatment for addicts, we will protect our citizens from the dangers while protecting personal freedom of choice and virtually eliminate the black market. It won't solve everything, but it's certainly better than an illicit marketplace that operates outside the bounds of regulatory protections.

  • ||

    Spot on, Stevo and Last One. I wish the Supreme Court were stacked with Hit 'n' Runners. (Thoreau as Chief?) If only it were up to me.

  • ||

    What Last One Speaks and STEVE IN CLEARWATER and so many others have said in response to John. I agree.

    I'd just add that I *do* view choice of intoxicants as a political choice, our cognitive and spiritual liberty should not be controlled by government...if you dig deep enough, you'll see that there is a constitutional "church-state" problem because drug prohibition is based on religious edicts (american fundamentalist missionaries, to be precise...you can look it up).

    So, while the pot smoker in prison might seem like a strange manifestation of a political prisoner persecuted for his/her religion or creed, that's exactly what it is. We have 1,000,000 political prisoners (not incuding Muimia, John, whover the irrelevant red herring that is.).

    So, IMO, prosecution of sick people in california and just other normal people for wanting to smoke pot is no different than the Chinese persecuting folks who want to practice Falun Gong or run a blog critical of the regime.

  • ||

    I agree with you in principle Jackyl, but it has come to my attention over the years that the impetus for many of our drug laws come from simple racism more than religious fundamentalism. Chinese men with their opium seducing white women, let's get rid the mexicans by outlawing marijuana etcetera..
    A strong argument could be made that WOD is a kind of perpetual institutionalized racism. I couldn't help but notice that, when I recently visited a website with the names of the victims of overzealous drug war soldiers, that there was a definite theme in the names.
    I'm sure that religious fundamentalism has and does play a part tho'.

  • ||

    mk-

    Class also plays a part. Meth is associated with poor whites in trailer parks. That may or may not be true, but it's the stereotype. And cracking down on meth is currently the craze.

    Basically, the drug war is an amalgam of all of our worst prejudices, all enlisted to serve the interests of organized crime.

    No wonder the politicians love it so much.

  • ||

    Isn't there a practical way around this? Like, couldn't all would-be drug users form a Church, and then use whichever prohibited drugs they like under the pretense that it's a religious rite or ritual for them? I myself am thinking about forming the United in Chronic Church of the Latter Day Crackheads. Anyone interested in joining my church?


    Smacky, did you go to the John Kerry school of diction?

    Jason Sonenshein,

    No. That's my feigned German-transplant bad accent. Every German I've ever conversed with says "idear", not "idea". I love it. So I absorbed it into my personal dialect.

  • ||

    I believe some Native American Indian tribes use peyote ritually and the WOsD has prevented them from using peyote legally. Although I think the law is largely ignored, it doesn't sanction drug use as a right (like wine for communion?)for religious ceremonies, any Rastafarrians in da house?

  • ||

    Bottomline here, kiddies, is that the anti-drug folk think they have the moral high ground. They don't. They are weak little cowards and it is truly us against them.

    Want to put an end to this foolishness? Don't hire or promote them. Don't do business with them. Stiffle them financially.

  • ||

    I thought in the last decade or so American Indians (certain tribes only?) were given special dispensation to use peyote -- but no one else.

  • ||

    For those who think that you can't just decide what laws to break think about this. Almost every one of us do it every day. The feds have criminalized so much that few of us get thru the day without breaking the law. Ever put anything in your trash besides organic matter? Chances are you are breaking the law. Every use a herbicide or pesticide without reading all the instructions and following them to the letter? check the wrong box on a government form? You're a criminal. Not to mention things like running a red light, speeding, overfilling your gas tank (that too is illegal). So for those of you who think that putting people in jail because they did something illegal even though they weren't hurting anyone else is ok almost all of us do it every day. The feds have criminalized so much in the last 20 years (more than the first 200) that almost everyone in the US commits a criminal act every day. They just happen to be after the druggies right now but if they want the EPA or just about any other branch of the federal government could start doing worse any time they want. Scary isn't it?

    If you use the argument "they should be in jail because you can't just decide what laws to break" then shut off your computer, don't answer your phone and turn off your power. Of course when you don't respond to mail from the IRS you will probably be arrested by them.

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