A Good Thing

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Martha Stewart calls for reforming America's drug laws:

When one is incarcerated with 1,200 other inmates, it is hard to be selfish at Christmas—hard to think of Christmases past and Christmases future—that I know will be as they always were for me—beautiful! So many of the women here in Alderson will never have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them have been here for years—devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.

I beseech you all to think about these women—to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking. They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life "out there" where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.

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  1. In other celebrity related drug policy news, the Governator, apparently, pardoned the drug convictions of three people today.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/12/23/BAG36AGAHA1.DTL

    It’s after they’d already been paroled, but, still, when you’re talkin’ about the drug war, you have to look for the silver lining.

  2. In a sign of my having been incarcerated here on H&R for too long, I had this very headline in my head as soon as I saw the news item.

  3. Ken-

    Here’s the silver lining:

    While pardons do not erase crimes from the public record, they do allow the recipients to serve on juries, be employed as a state parole officer or county probation officer and own a weapon. A pardon may also remove some barriers to employment and professional licensing.

  4. I had this very headline in my head as soon as I saw the news item.

    It’s a pretty obvious headline. Sorry I didn’t come up with anything more clever, but hey, I’m supposed to be taking today off…

  5. So we didn’t teach that Martha Stewart bitch to keep her trap shut, huh? Time for some more trumped-up charges against her, methinks!

  6. “I beseech you all…”

    So what’s the past tense of beseech? I want to write her to thank her for besooching us, but that just sounds weird. Maybe besotch?

  7. It’s “beseeched”, isn’t it?

    …Wait! No. It’s besought.

    …no, it’s beseeched…um….

    …aw, hell! how ’bout “ask”, huh? I ask you; is there somethin’ wrong with “asked”, for Pete’s sake?

  8. dictionary.com prefers “besought”, but allows “beseeched”.

  9. Well, considering Martha got screwed over in the first place, it’s good to see she’s using her time to push the right ideas. She now knows as well as anyone how government regulation can destroy lives.

  10. Martha needs to get over this feel-good notion that prisons exist to rehabilitate. They exist to punish and discourage future offenders with the threat of punishment. I don’t have any more respect for the “forced rehabilitiation” concept for drug users than I do for the punishment of drug users. They don’t need to be rehabililitated, they don’t need to be punished, they simply need to be left alone.

  11. Weed also makes an excellent potporri, a fragrant garnish when mixed with cilantro, an no brownie should be without it.

  12. Don’t ya just hate waiting at the liquoir store, trying to buy a fresh crack pipe, when some old fart is trading in scratch-off lottery tickets just as fast as he can buy them.

  13. MP said:
    “Martha needs to get over this feel-good notion that prisons exist to rehabilitate.”

    MP, go directly to JAIL. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

    This is what Martha actually wrote:
    “They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life “out there” where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.”

    I think I speak for Martha here when I say we are on the side of B. F. Skinner in discovering that punishment is ineffective as behavior modification.
    (Most of us are not seeking behavior modification anyway, rather, revenge.)

    MP, have you been tested lately for reading comprehension?

  14. Ruthless,

    B.F. Skinner studied rats.

  15. Richard,

    Since politicians are one of society’s primary instruments of action, Skinner seems to be applicable after all.

  16. Good job Martha! What a strong and eloquent statement and call to action to remedy the needless tragedy brought to us by federal drug laws. Half of all federal inmates are in for drug “crimes”!

    ATTEN: PEOPLE IN THE MSO ORGANIZATION AND MARTHA’S FREINDS AND FAMILY.

    I understand that Martha is not allowed internet access at Alderson. So, if any of you good people would be so kind as to let her know that there are very few, if any, blogs that were as supportive of Martha against the injustice she faced, as this blog. Also, please let her know that she will not find an organization any more supportive of the wisdom of her beautiful and powerful Christmas message than the Reason Foundation, who underwrites Reason Magazine as well as this blog.

    The Reason Foundation would be a worthy recipient of any financial aid from Martha or the MSO company, toward the goal of federal drug law reform. I’m not associated with the Reason Foundation. I’m just a fan. But please check them out. They’re solid. And please note that Jacob Sullum, one of the senior editors here, has authored a fascinating volume which addresses in detail the concerns expressed in Martha’s moving message.

  17. My only criticism of what Martha Stewart wrote is that it does not go far enough: The only complete “reform” of drug laws and sentencing policies — the only “reform” which would put an end to the damage these laws and policies do — would not be limited to “users”:

    The purchase and sale of drugs among adults should be re-legalized, not merely decriminalized. The sale of the products should be subject to the same strict liability for harm as are the sales of other products. Investors in such enterprises should have the same opportunity for profit, and risk of loss, as are investors in other enterprises. Owners of such drugs — whether for personal use or sale — should have the same recourse to civil and criminal law in the event of theft, breach of contract, or intentional or negligent destruction, as do owners of other commodities.

  18. Rick Barton,
    You wrote glad tidings of joy. I hope you will be able to disseminate them not just to Martha but the whole world.

  19. Ruthless,

    I’ll bet punishment worked wonders as behavior modification during your stay on Parris Island.

  20. Good point, just wondering,
    Although you are being mean on the occasion of JC’s birth, Parris Island is similar to prison. The rats learn what’s needed to get the food pellet
    But after Parris Island, and after putting in ones time on active duty, one is still the rat he was going in.
    (Assuming he’s alive and not injured physically nor mentally–which is irrelevant to the regimen, eh?)
    Martha will be an excellent example of what I’m saying. And that’s a good thing.

    Speaking of prison and JC’s birth. Did prison modify the behaviour of the apostles?

    “just wondering” and MP,
    Are you posting here from jail?

  21. Probably the best thing we could do as a society is to trump up charges against some other prominent celebrities who have wide audiences in “mainstream america,” e.g., Oprah, Emeril, etc., and incarcerate them.

    Seems like that might be a pretty good eye opener and get some badly needed press coverage on the futility of the drug war.

  22. db,
    Excellent idea.
    Too bad trumping up charges is not our forte here at H&R.
    (Trumping down charges, more likely.)

  23. db,

    Anything that gets Oprah off the streets is OK with me.

    P.S. Did you hear Oprah got arrested? The police looked up her dress and found 100 lb. of crack!

  24. Kevin Carson,
    I doubt your joke passes thoreau’s smell test.
    Cracks and/or holes possess no mass therefore no weight. Physics rules here.

    Besides, I can visualize a dyke patting Oprah down, but not police doing an upskirt.

    Let’s get serious. Martha and Oprah are sacrosanct. (Leona Helmsley too, goddess bless her.)

    What would Richard Feynman do? WWFD?

    thoreau,
    Shall we upturn the tables and toss all assholes out of this H&R temple or not? Just give me the woid.

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