Open Thread

bullet image New Report Finds “Drug Courts Are Not the Answer”

At two briefings on Capitol Hill today, the Drug Policy Alliance released a groundbreaking new report, Drug Courts are Not the Answer: Toward a Health-Centered Approach to Drug Use (www.drugpolicy.org/drugcourts), which finds that drug courts have not demonstrated cost savings, reduced incarceration, or improved public safety; leave many people worse off for trying; and have actually made the criminal justice system more punitive toward addiction – not less.


bullet image War on drugs as failed, say former heads of MI5, CPS, and BBC

The “war on drugs” has failed and should be abandoned in favour of evidence-based policies that treat addiction as a health problem, according to prominent public figures including former heads of MI5 and the Crown Prosecution Service. [...]

The MPs and members of the House of Lords, who have formed a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, are calling for new policies to be drawn up on the basis of scientific evidence.

It could lead to calls for the British government to decriminalise drugs, or at least for the police and Crown Prosecution Service not to jail people for possession of small amounts of banned substances.


bullet image Defendant Sentenced to 18 Years on 11 Gram Federal Crack Conviction

TalkLeft has a good piece discussing the absurdity of sentencing that is based on charges for which the defendant has been acquitted. It’s a real injustice and a violation of the very concept of jury trials.


bullet image The always excellent Radley Balko is moving on from Reason Magazine soon to begin writing at Huffington Post — a chance to reach a much larger audience (and perhaps an audience that needs to hear what he has to report). Good luck, Radley!

Here are a few of his current pieces that should not be missed…

Failing Upward in Criminal Justice

Paey’s prosecution was an outrage, and it generated significant media attention. In 2007, after Paey had served nearly four years of his sentence, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist gave him a full pardon. Yet Scott Andringa, who prosecuted the case as an assistant state attorney in New Port Richey, has never expressed a hint of remorse. In fact, Andringa, now a defense attorney in private practice, brags about his efforts to imprison Paey on his professional website, noting that he “was the prosecutor assigned to a controversial drug trafficking case that was later profiled on 60 Minutes, Nightline, and in the New York Times.”

And now Andringa wants to be a judge.

How Drug Cops Go Bad

Critics of prohibition often argue that drug cops are especially susceptible to corruption because their jobs regularly bring them into contact with black-market cash and large quantities of illicit substances worth more than the average police officer makes in a year. There is something to that, but I think the problem runs deeper. Drug crimes are consensual crimes, which means there are no aggrieved victims to file a complaint. The only way to fight consensual crimes is with surveillance, informants, or undercover cops. Surveillance requires a warrant, which requires some evidence of criminal activity. The latter two options are far more common, but they require the police to break the very laws they are enforcing—or encourage someone else to do so. That creates a moral disconnect right off the bat.

Politicians paint cross-hairs on Americans

To date, there has been little outcry from the press, and not a single national politician from either the Democratic or Republican parties has condemned or even questioned the increasing use of government violence against Americans.

It will be a welcome day when America’s political and media figures get as indignant about innocent Americans killed by their own government as they do on those thankfully rare occasions when deranged people carry out attacks on government officials.

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