by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced. - Albert Einstein
beliebers, welcome to the good fight
April 9, 2013 — Today, a coalition of over 175 artists, actors, athletes, elected officials and advocates, [including Russell Simmons, Sir Richard Branson, Will Smith, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Scarlett Johansson, Ron Howard, Jennifer Hudson, Demi Moore, Eva Longoria, Michael Moore, Mark Wahlberg, Harry Belafonte, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cameron Diaz, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Chris Rock, Russell Brand, John Legend, DJ Pauly D, Mike Tyson, Rick Ross, Jon Hamm, Natalie Maines, Ludacris to name a few] brought together by hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons and Dr. Boyce Watkins, presented an open letter to President Obama, urging him to double down on his efforts to change the United States’ criminal justice policy from that of a punitive, suppression-based model to one that favors evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation. According to Department of Justice data, the U.S. leads the world in the incarceration of its own citizens, both on a per capita basis and in terms of total prison population. More than 500,000 of the 2.3 million people behind bars in the U.S. are incarcerated for nothing more than a nonviolent drug offense.
“It is critical that we change both the way we think about drug laws in this country and how we generate positive solutions that leave a lasting impact on rebuilding our communities,” said Russell Simmons. “We need to break the school to prison pipeline, support and educate our younger generations and provide them with a path that doesn’t leave them disenfranchised with limited options.”
The coalition [of concerned activists, humanitarians and celebrities] suggests that the President continue to take a number of reformative actions, including extending the Fair Sentencing Act to all inmates who were sentenced under the 100-to-1 crack/powder disparity, supporting the principles of the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 (which allows judges to set aside mandatory minimum sentences when they deem appropriate), and supporting the Youth PROMISE Act.
Dr. Boyce Watkins added: “The letter is intended to be a respectful appeal to the Obama Administration asking that we develop productive pathways to supporting families that have been harmed by the War on Drugs. Countless numbers of children have been waiting decades for their parents to come home, and America is made safer if we break the cycle of mass incarceration. Time is of the essence, for with each passing year that we allow injustice to prevail, our nation loses another piece of its soul. We must carefully examine the impact of the War on Drugs and the millions of living, breathing Americans who’ve been affected. It is, quite simply, the right thing to do.”
A veteran NYPD officer is accused of going well below and beyond his line of duty by helping a crew of robbers to steal more than a million dollars from drug dealers. Jose Tejada, who has been a member of the NYPD since 1996, allegedly provided the robbers with high-tech police equipment and offered the use of his apartment to aid in the scheme. Tejada was arrested yesterday and faces multiple counts of robbery, drug dealing and weapon charges, which could lead to a minimum of 17 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Court documents filed yesterday claim that the robbers posed as police officers and used fake warrants to arrest a group of drug traffickers, then robbed them of their money and drug stashes that included pot, heroin, ecstasy and cocaine. In total, the crew of robbers, including Tejada and the 21 other members, are tied to more than 100 robberies throughout NYC since 2001. Tejada allegedly participated in three robberies in 2006 and 2007, stealing thousands of dollars while dressed in police uniform. Authorities will push for Tejada to be denied bail by labeling him a “substantial flight risk,” since he owns property in the Dominican Republic and has traveled there to visit family at least 10 times in the last decade.
“I’m particularly concerned about how the war on drugs has destroyed the fabric of the black community in America. I grew up in a lower middle-class neighborhood in Queens that was destroyed by drugs. It was the heroin capital of Queens. Everybody shot dope. My friend in the eighth grade was shooting dope. I’ve seen the suffering first-hand and I’ve been involved in the suffering too. I used every drug there is, back in the day, but it didn’t make me a bad person: it just made me a sad person, a diseased person. It didn’t make me a criminal.
What would have made me a criminal is if I’d been arrested and sent to jail for 20 years, which could have happened easily. A great number of kids in my neighbourhood did go to jail, and they didn’t come out so well. They were educated in criminal behaviour, came home violent criminals, and became repeat offenders.”
John Horner, a 46-year-old fast-food restaurant worker, lost his eye in a 2000 accident and was prescribed painkillers. Years later, he met and befriended a guy who seemed to be in pain himself. His new friend asked if he could buy some of Horner’s pain pills. Naturally, the friend was a police informant. Prosecutors in Central Florida say Horner was ultimately paid $1,800 for pills. “My public defender told me, ‘They got you dead to rights,’” he said. “So I thought, ‘OK, I guess there’s no need taking this to trial.’” His story is recounted in a BBC News Service story about the problematic use of informants by U.S. law-enforcement agencies.
It’s an important subject and the article tackles it well.
But let’s focus here on the anecdote about Horner, because it gets at the utter madness of the War on Drugs. For the sake of argument, let’s presume he’s guilty of selling $1,800 of pain pills prescribed to him for an injury. Forget that he was arguably entrapped. Just look at the crime in isolation.
What sort of punishment should it carry?
You’ve got a 46-year-old employed father, with no criminal record, caught selling four bottles of prescription pain pills. “Under Florida law Horner now faced a minimum sentence of 25 years, if found guilty,” the BBC reports.
Twenty-five years minimum!
It costs Florida roughly $19,000 to incarcerate an inmate for a year. So I ask you, dear reader, is keeping non-violent first-time drug offender John Horner locked behind bars in a jumpsuit really the best use of $475,000? For the same price, you could pay a year’s tuition for 75 students at Florida State University. You could pay the salaries of seven West Palm Beach police officers for a year. Is it accurate to call a system that demands the 25-year prison term mad?
Well. Prosecutors offered to shave years off his sentence if he became an informant himself and successfully helped send five others to prison on 25 year terms. He tried. But “Horner failed to make cases against drug traffickers,” says the BBC. “As a result, he was sentenced to the full 25 years in October last year and is now serving his sentence in Liberty Correctional Institution.”
“He will be 72 by the time he is released.”
Meet his kids:How about a pardon, Governor Rick Scott?
The D.E.A. now has five commando-style squads it has been quietly deploying for the past several years to Western Hemisphere nations — including Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize — that are battling drug cartels.
The program — called FAST, for Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team — was created during the George W. Bush administration to investigate Taliban-linked drug traffickers in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2008 and continuing under President Obama, it has expanded far beyond the war zone.
The evolution of the program into a global enforcement arm reflects the United States’ growing reach in combating drug cartels and how policy makers increasingly are blurring the line between law enforcement and military activities, fusing elements of the “war on drugs” with the “war on terrorism.”
The war on drugs is beginning to resemble a real war now more than ever before.
It’s not just the horrifying death toll in places like Mexico and Honduras, it’s the method of American interdiction: Small, commando-style units have busted drug rings and killed dealers in foreign countries. Anti-drug agencies are taking a page from the counter-terrorism playbook.
But the conflicts are different and the tactics don’t always translate. As one critic of the new war on drugs says, its impossible to kill your way out of this problem.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents working with members of the Honduran military were involved in the killing of two pregnant women and two men, all of them innocent, last Friday [May 11].
The deceased victims included two young men, Emerson Martínez and Chalo Brock Wood, and two women, Candelaria Tratt Nelson and Juana Banegas — both of whom were pregnant. According to Congressman Wood Grawell Maylo of the department of Gracias a Dios and the Mayor of Ahuas, Lucio Baquedano, the attack was carried out in the early morning by a helicopter unit consisting of Honduran police and members of the United Stated Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). They said that the unit mistook the targeted boat for another boat that was being used by drug traffickers.
El Tiempo reported that the two boats had passed each other in the early morning at about the time that the motorboat with the drug traffickers was being pursued by the helicopter. Mr. Baquedano said, “The boat with the narcos did not have a light, while the one with the passengers did have a light… which made it a visible target for the agents who were firing from the helicopter.” He said that the drug traffickers abandoned their boat and escaped up the coast in the direction of El Patuca.
Villagers rioted in protest, burning down government buildings and demanding that agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who participated in the operation as part of a commando-style Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), leave the area and stay out.
spreading ‘good will’ around the world: the dea’s presence in central america is expanding:
Honduras is a growing focus of American counternarcotics efforts aimed at the drug cartels that have increasingly sought to use its ungoverned spaces as a way point in shipping cocaine from South America to the United States.
In November 2011, The New York Times reported that the DEA has deployed five “commando-style squads” in Central America and the Caribbean, including Honduras, to combat drug cartels. Each team consists of 10 specially-trained agents with military experience. The operation is part of the Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST) program established under President George. W. Bush in response to drug trafficking associated with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The program is reportedly overseen by former Navy SEAL Richard Dobrich. The Pentagon provides most of the training, equipment, and transport for the DEA squads.
Locals look at the screening of names of 10,000 victims of violence in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, on the facade of Annunciation House, a shelter for immigrants and indigent people in the US city of El Paso on April 23, 2012. Annunciation House organized a mournful tribute called Voice of the Voiceless in which more than 10,000 names were screened on the facade of the building.
DEA “FAST Team” in Afghanistan
F.A.S.T. = Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Teams
this is madness