The Drug War
President Obama’s budget for Fiscal Year 2013 contains something akin to good news for Americans affected by the drug war. While light on specifics, the summary for the Department of Justice’s FY2013 budget mentions several provisions to reduce America’s appalling incarceration rate:
The Budget provides $153 million in prisoner reentry and jail diversion programs, including $80 million for the Second Chance Act programs and $52 million for problem-solving grants supporting drug courts, mentally ill offender assistance, and other problem-solving approaches. With 2.3 million people in U.S. prisons and 1 in 32 American adults under some kind of correctional supervision, these programs aim to divert individuals from incarceration, reduce recidivism, and achieve public safety in a more sensible way.
The section addressing federal prisons also hints at a public-health approach to drug law enforcement. While the the budget increases federal prison spending by 4 percent over FY2012 “due to projected growth in the Federal detainee population,” the section also says “the Administration will also continue to explore opportunities to reduce the prison population, with a focus on non-violent offenders.”
Typically when we refer to police militarization, we’re talking about raids, the rush to violence when dealing with citizens who may or may not have committed crimes, and the use of military grade weapons/vehicles/toys. Obama’s budget calls for specific militarization of police, by promising local law enforcement more federal funds if they hire veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan:
The Budget provides $257 million to support America’s first responders and the hiring and retention of police officers and sheriffs’ deputies across the country, and includes a preference for the hiring of post–9/11 veterans. This funding builds on the $166 million in COPS Hiring Grants funding enacted in 2012. These investments assist in building capacity to enable State and local law enforcement partners to make the most of their resources and encourage their most promising and effective public safety efforts. The Budget includes $4 billion in immediate assistance for the retention, rehiring, and hiring of police officers in 2012, as requested by the President in the American Jobs Act. States and localities will gain a preference for implementing programs and policies that focus on the recruitment of post–9/11 veterans for law enforcement positions.
If there’s evidence that veterans make worse cops than civilians, I haven’t seen it. But there is something disconcerting about shuffling veterans from the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan to American streets.
The raid and shut-down of file-sharing site Megaupload was likely the first of many, if Obama’s budget is an indicator:
Recent technological advances, particularly in methods of manufacturing and distribution, have created new opportunities for businesses of all sizes to innovate and grow. These advancements, however, have also created new vulnerabilities, which tech-savvy criminals are eager to exploit. As a result, there has been an alarming rise in intellectual property (IP) crimes, illegal activities that not only devastate individual lives and legitimate businesses, but undermine our financial stability and prosperity. Therefore, the Administration is devoting nearly $40 million to identify and defeat intellectual property criminals, an increase of $5 million over 2012. The Administration’s efforts have already resulted in shutting down 350 websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works. Additionally, international partnerships and joint initiatives have enabled experts to train or educate in IP protection more than 2,500 foreign judges, prosecutors, investigators, and other officials from over 30 countries.