Drug Policy

Joe Biden Goes Soft on Drugs

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In a press release that does not seem to be available online, the American Civil Liberties Union praises Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), historically one of the most gung-ho drug warriors in the Democratic Party, for introducing a bill that would eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine powder. Previous proposals would have merely reduced the disparity, in some cases by making cocaine powder sentences more severe. By contrast, Biden's bill would raises the amount of crack that triggers a five-year mandatory minimum sentence to 500 grams, the same as the amount for cocaine powder. Biden announced his plan last week:

The current sentencing disparity between the two forms of cocaine is based on false notions and old logic.  The bottom line is that there is no scientific justification for any disparity.  Crack and powder are simply two forms of the same drug, and each form produces identical effects.  I will soon be introducing legislation that eliminates the sentencing disparity completely, fixing this injustice once and for all. 

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  1. I will soon be introducing legislation that eliminates the sentencing disparity completely, fixing this injustice once and for all.

    …by raising the penalties for both to life in prison without parole. 😉

    I recall him mentioning this at the Howard U. debate the other night. It’s an obvious ploy to capture the black vote.

  2. Holy cow! What’s wrong with Mr. Biden? The proper course of action would have been to lower the amount of powder to that of crack.

  3. Can anyone think of something that takes smaller steps than a baby?

  4. I liked how Mike Gravel challenged everyone in the debate to end the war on drugs and got… crickets from the other candidates. No one even tried to mount a defense of the WoD.

  5. @joe – before a baby can take baby steps, it must learn to crawl.

    Looks like it’s crawling in the right direction. Finally.

    CB

  6. Fish don’t feel the water, Randolph. You may as well ask them to mount a defense of cogito ergo sum.

  7. Start reducing the prison population and the unemployment stats will soar, making it harder to argue that we we have a sustainable economy. Those drugs laws serve a purpose.

  8. The current sentencing disparity between regarding the two forms of cocaine is based on false notions and old logic.

    Fixed that.

  9. Crack and powder are simply two forms of the same drug, and each form produces identical effects.

    I don’t think this is true.

  10. Start reducing the prison population and the unemployment stats will soar, making it harder to argue that we we have a sustainable economy. Those drugs laws serve a purpose.

    True, not to mention that warehousing our angriest poor is a good way to keep them from rebelling against our system.

  11. “. . . each form produces identical effects.”

    This isn’t true. Crack is a lot more fun, assuming you’ve got the good stuff, though doing either is a pretty bad idea.

  12. This just lets Biden be a super-cock on drug issues because he doesn’t have to worry about an obvious inconsistency in the law.

  13. Edward, Dan, this is fun….my turn.

    What would we do with all of those empty prisons? The unemployment caused in the incarceration industry is reason alone to keep the draconian drug laws.

  14. True, not to mention that warehousing our angriest poor is a good way to keep them from rebelling against our system.

    Ah, we’ve incarcerated only the nobly guilty, have we? Our prisons are filled with tens of thousands of Jean Valjeans?

    Let’s not take our criticism of our culture so far that we conflate people who commit crimes against property and other people with political prisoners. Rhetoric aside, this isn’t class warfare. Of course, what is a “class” issue is that money buys a different form of justice for the wealthy than for the poor. Ask Orenthal about that.

    And, of course, there are the many prisoners locked up for silly things that they do to themselves. People who shouldn’t be in prison.

  15. Joe Biden goes soft really easily.

    …no, I don’t mean that.

  16. Plus, if prisons start shutting down, what will we do with all of our subsidized farm production?
    Then again, if we merely convert some of that land to grow marijuana and, where possible, the plant derivative of crack/cocaine and subsequently prosecute the users of the increased/cheaper supply, maybe some balance can be reached? 😉

  17. Start reducing the prison population and the unemployment stats will soar, making it harder to argue that we we have a sustainable economy.

    Funny, I didn’t think we imprisoned people for not having a job, I thought it was for using a substance that is only hurting themselves.

    Do you actually think before you start typing?

  18. Maybe we should have the ReleasedPrisoners do the JobsAmericansWon’tDo.

  19. Funny, I didn’t think we imprisoned people for not having a job, I thought it was for using a substance that is only hurting themselves.

    I think the point is that enforcement is targeted more at the poor and not well off. For those with means the system seems to treat them differently

  20. So is the decision on school integration influencing the drug policy decisions of candidates?

    If we can keep blacks down with inferior education like in the bad old days we no longer need to label them as felons from drug sales?

  21. I think the point is that enforcement is targeted more at the poor and not well off. For those with means the system seems to treat them differently

    Plus, the lack of good employment opportunities tends to make crime a more attractive option.

  22. Start reducing the prison population and the unemployment stats will soar, making it harder to argue that we we have a sustainable economy. Those drugs laws serve a purpose.

    Prisoners count as employed? How does that look on a resume?

    July ’83 to July ’07 – Rikers Island Correctional Facility, Cell Manager
    Job Description: Managed a 10×10 cell, supervised making of the bed, scratching things in the wall, and shiv production

  23. RC –
    I believe prisoners count as neither employed nor unemployed. The unemployment rate relies on people looking for work to be counted, and I don’t think prisoners count as “looking.”

  24. There is a significant sub-category of leftist who seems to have this odd notion that the downtrodden are incapable of caring for themselves and earning their keep.

    Prisoners have hands and a brain. In other words, they can create wealth. There is no need to force them to be idle or waste their labor on make-work.

    Oddly enough laissez faire economies tend to suffer from labor shortages not surpluses.

  25. Reinmoose,

    Well, if we’re going to count prisoners at all, we should count them as employed if they’re doing hard labor or male prostitution.

  26. Reimoose

    You’re a little slow on the uptake, aren’t you? The point is that prisoners would be looking if they weren’t in prison. Duh!

  27. Joe Biden Goes Soft on Drugs

    Joe Biden’s pharmacist better hope he remembered to include erectile dysfunction on that paper listing possible side effects. Otherwise, Biden will have a nice settlement coming his way!

  28. Edward…
    Try reading the post I was responding to. RC seemed to imply that he thought we were talking about prisoners moving from the employed column (when they’re in prison) to the unemployed column, being the only way it would increase the unemployment rate. I was merely pointing out that they probably don’t count as either employed or unemployed…

    A little slow on the uptake, aren’t you? 😉

  29. My apologies, Reinmoose. I think watching CNN has turned my brain to mush and made me cranky.

  30. Brilliant, thoreau!

  31. Crack and powder are simply two forms of the same drug, and each form produces identical effects.

    Not true. If the effects were identical there wouldn’t be two versions, and people wouldn’t bother with the few minutes it takes to convert powdered coke to crack. Saith the coke dealer: “no crack smokers!”

  32. The WHOLE drug war is based on false notions and old logic that was never really logical to begin with. Which is why we have paid for the propaganda machine to keep churning away with the lies. Flawed logic that people in a free country will do what some politician thinks is best for them is all I can think.

    With what really is such a simple issue being so hard for them to comprehend how is it we ever expect them to comprehend or make sense or truly complex issues we face. Whether my neighbor lights up a doob at night is hardly a national security issue nor is it anyones business but his own. How about you politicians actually focus on the issues affecting all of us and give up the ghost already on the drug war, that failing and lost was set sail years ago, wake up already, YOU LOST.

  33. No one wants to hire an ex-con. However good or bad employment prospects are, if you’re a felon they suck. It’s not enough to have hands to work, you need someone to give you money for your labor.

    Once we stop imprisoning so many people, it will be a net benefit, and a large one, but until then we’ll have a sort of prison baby boom, while integrating the current surfeit of prisoners into the economy.

  34. Well, if we’re going to count prisoners at all, we should count them as employed if they’re doing hard labor or male prostitution.

    Would getting anal raped in jail make one a male prostitute? Wouldn’t some type of compensation be required?

  35. First off, WHO THE HELL CARES if shorter drug sentences result in increased ‘unemployment.’ We are locking up, for very long periods of time, people who don’t deserve to be locked up. Economic ramifications be damned…its immoral, unjust, and just plain evil to continue this drug war.

    (On a side note, increased labor supply and decreased government costs of managing prisons would probably imply a stronger economy. Like it matters…)

    Second, there is a difference between crack and powder. Crack has less actual cocaine in it. Oddly enough, this nets a 100x stronger sentence.

  36. Isn’t it on the Bumper, man?

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