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
My good friend Logan* was arrested this past weekend for having fake plates on his car. After they arrested him, his friend witnessed an officer planting dirt weed in his glove compartment. What an incredibly fucked up, grimy thing to do. Fucking with the life of a complete stranger who’s actually an awesome person, who didn’t harm anyone, anything. I asked him to write up his story because I want to put it here for people to find and consider, so it’s not forgotten.
So here it is, Logan’s story:
So last week as I’m pulling up to get a haircut from the barber shop in Corona, Queens. Two (female) uniformed officers ran up on me from across the street. I pulled an illegal u turn so I thought that was the reason they stopped me. They proceeded to tell me that my temporary tag looked suspicious. After they investigated further, I was told my tag was fake and they were gonna take me in (to jail) for that. They continued to tell me that there have been a lot of these fake tags going around and that there’s an open investigation on the guy who sold me the car and the fake tag. I asked them why were they taking me in and they said there was no way for them to tell if I was oblivious to the fact that it was fake.
Once I arrived at the precinct they started on my paper work/booking process. They allowed me to call a friend to pick up my stuff from my car because it was gonna have to stay at the police station. When my friends arrived to pick up my stuff the arresting officer which I only remember by the name of Emily continued to search the car at which that point my friend noticed her pull out what appeared to be a small nickel bag of “reggies” aka a bag of regular non high grade marijuana out of the glove compartment of all places. When she returned to the holding cell area which is the same place she was doing my paper work I noticed it and thought it was for some other case and didn’t even think anything of it.
Fast forward to central booking in Kew Gardens, Queens after spending a night in jail for a fake tag I didn’t even know about. I finally got to talk to my appointed lawyer. She went on to read me my charges and told me that I had a charge for marijuana possession! I was like what the fuck! It was clear to me that it was planted in my car by her (female officer) when she acted like she was searching my car. And in the glove compartment of all places. Nobody hides weed there! That’s the spot where you pull your car’s paper work from. When all was said and done, the charges were dropped from felony possession of a fake temp tag and misdemeanor possession of marijuana to disorderly conduct, which isn’t even a misdemeanor. And I have to pay $220 dollars in fines.
While locked up, there were other people in there for the same reason as me. And plenty of other people in there for petty charges. This system is so fucked up. Even though I could prove I bought my car and tag from a dealer there was no way to prove that I didn’t know the tag was fake. Hence theres no way prove my innocence to a (white) jury . As my lawyer told me. So I took the deal.
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?
This is an update that’s long overdue. I just want to say that I’m really surprised and humbled by how much this Tumblr has grown since I started it for my own amusement back in 2010. Thank you all so much for following, reblogging, liking, and sharing. I wish I had the time to update it as often as I did in the past, but real life got in the way, and I’ve had to drop it for a while.
But now I’m back in the loop and working at The Fix. It’s hard to believe I’d never known about this site until recently, but it’s a great source, so check it out.
So yeah, thank you! And stay tuned.
- WASHINGTON: Initiative 502 legalizes the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and over, but does not allow for personal cultivation, except by or for medical marijuana patients. It will license marijuana cultivation and retail and wholesale sales, with restrictions on advertising. Regulation will be the remit of the state liquor control board, which will have to come up with rules by December 2013. The measure creates a 25% excise tax on marijuana sales, with 40% of revenues dedicated to the general fund and 60% dedicated to substance abuse prevention, research, and healthcare. It also creates a per se driving under the influence standard of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.
- COLORADO: Amendment 64 allows adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or six marijuana plants, three of which can be mature. It will create a system of state-licensed cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities and state-licensed retail stores. Local governments would have the option of regulating or prohibiting such facilities. The amendment also requires the state legislature to enact legislation governing industrial hemp cultivation, processing, and sale, and to create an excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales. The first $40 million of that annual revenue will be dedicated to building public schools.
Jon Stewart Slams Obama Executive Privilege, Fast and Furious, and Eric Holder
Under the plan backed by President Jose Mujica’s leftist administration, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana and only to adults who register on a government database, letting officials keep track of their purchases over time. [In a radio interview on Thursday, Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro seemed to backtrack, saying the registry “sounds a little authoritarian and perhaps we should avoid it,” according to the WSJ.]
Profits would reportedly go toward rehabilitating drug addicts.
“It’s a fight on both fronts: against consumption and drug trafficking. We think the prohibition of some drugs is creating more problems to society than the drug itself,” Fernández Huidobro told reporters late on Wednesday.
Fernández said the bill would soon be sent to Congress, which is dominated by Mujica’s party, but that an exact date had not been set. If approved, Uruguay’s national government would be the first in the world to directly sell marijuana to its citizens.
“Consider the number of people who have taken drugs that are purported to cause violence. More than 37 million Americans report trying cocaine at least once; 9 million have admitted smoking crack; LSD has been taken by some 23 million U.S citizens. Imagine the mayhem if each of these users turned violent.
Further, synthetic marijuana — which is sold as “K2″ or “Spice” and has also been blamed recently for violent crimes — has been tried by 11% of American high school seniors. There are no figures for another “legal high” known as bath salts, which contain amphetamine-like compounds and which an emergency room doctor blamed for the Miami attack.
Basically, if drugs were a simple cause of violence, we’d be in far more trouble than we are now, with a crime rate many times what it actually is. Indeed, despite the rise of the new legal highs, rates of violent crime have generally adhered to a decades-long decline.”
— Maia Szalavitz - Why Drugs Are Getting a Bum Rap in the Miami Face-Eating Attack | TIME
“If you want any evidence that drugs have won the drug war, you just need to read the scientific studies on legal highs.”
The war on drugs has a new front, and so far it appears to be a losing one.
Synthetic mimics of marijuana, dissociative drugs and stimulants - such as the “bath salts” allegedly consumed by Rudy Eugene, the Florida man shot after a horrific face-eating assault - are growing in popularity and hard to control. Every time a compound is banned, overseas chemists synthesize a new version tweaked just enough to evade a law’s letter.
It’s a giant game of chemical Whack-a-Mole.
Pictured: A 2011 traffic stop seizure in South Carolina yielded bath salts and synthetic marijuana with a street value of $10,000.