'Tallahassee Police Chief' Dennis Jones - You are a f*cking disgrace! How do you sleep at night?.
The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act—the most ambitious sentencing and prison reform in U.S. history—just got its proposition number. The measure, sponsored by DPA Network, will appear as Proposition 5 on the California state ballot in November!
The campaign to pass Prop. 5 is building momentum. A range of important groups, including the California Society of Addiction Medicine, the Mental Health Association in California, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the League of Women Voters of California, and the California Democratic Party have endorsed the measure that would implement common-sense solutions to prison overcrowding.
High-profile individuals such as Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, retired warden of San Quentin Jeanne Woodford, Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, former Police Chief Norm Stamper, and former Probation Chief of San Luis Obispo County, John Lum, have also endorsed Prop. 5.
Support is building across the political spectrum because Prop. 5 will protect public safety and save taxpayers billions of dollars by safely shrinking the size of the nonviolent prison population by tens of thousands within just a few years.
Through Prop. 5, California voters can stop letting addiction drive incarceration in California, stop letting young people with drug problems become adult drug offenders, stop letting petty marijuana possession waste court resources and start saving taxpayers $2.5 billion in just a few years.
Through Prop. 5, young people would have access to treatment for the first time in the state.
Through Prop. 5, tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders would get access to treatment-instead-of-incarceration and rehabilitation programs—a change that would dramatically reduce the number of people locked up unnecessarily and decrease the likelihood of recidivism.
Through Prop. 5, low-level marijuana possession would become an infraction—like a traffic ticket—rather than a misdemeanor, conserving millions of dollars in court resources for more serious cases and saving 40,000 people a year from the life-long burden of a misdemeanor conviction.
Now that NORA is Proposition 5, we are ramping up the campaign. Please become a supporter!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008: At a press conference held this morning, members of Congress called on their fellow lawmakers to remove all federal penalties that criminalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults.
“To those who say that the government should not be encouraging the smoking of marijuana, my response is that I completely agree,” said Representative Barney Frank (D-MA). “But it is a great mistake to divide all human activity into two categories: those that are criminally prohibited, and those that are encouraged. In a free society, there must be a very considerable zone of activity between those two poles in which people are allowed to make their own choices as long as they are not impinging on the rights, freedom, or property of others. I believe … criminalizing choices that adults make because we think they are unwise ones, when the choices involved have no negative effect on the rights of others, is not appropriate in a free society.”
Rep. Frank, along with co-sponsors Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Lacy Clay (D-MO), urged lawmakers to support HR 5843, An Act To Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults, which would eliminate federal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana, and for the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana. Other co-sponsors of the measure include Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA); Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
This proposal reflects the basic recommendations of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (aka the Shafer Commission) in its groundbreaking report to Congress in 1972 titled Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults and this should be of no interest or concern to the government,” said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. “It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals. “
“I am a 43-year-old man, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, I pay my taxes and, like millions of other Americans, I occasionally smoke marijuana. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would wish to treat me like a criminal, based on my responsible use of marijuana. It is time we stopped arresting responsible marijuana smokers, and HR 5843 would do that under federal law.”
This is the first federal marijuana decriminalization bill to be introduced in Congress since 1978, and reflects the changing public attitudes that no longer support treating responsible marijuana smokers like criminals. According to a nationwide Time/CNN poll, three out of four Americans now favor a fine only, and no jail, for adults who possess or use small amounts of marijuana.
Each year in this country we arrest more and more of our citizens on marijuana charges. In 2006, the last year for which the data are available, we arrested 830,000 Americans on marijuana charges, and 88 percent of those arrests were for personal possession and use, not trafficking. They were otherwise law-abiding citizens who smoke marijuana.
Since 1965, a total of nearly 20 million Americans - predominantly young people under the age of 30 -- have been arrested on marijuana charges; more than 11 million marijuana arrests just since 1990.
Currently 47 percent of all drug arrests in this country are for marijuana, and another marijuana smoker is arrested every 38 seconds. Police arrest more people on marijuana charges each year than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
As President Jimmy Carter said in a message to Congress in 1977, “Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to the individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.”
Thanks as always to Stopthedrugwar.org
Three cases of crooked cops in Florida this week, and a pair of asset forfeiture abuse situations in St. Louis and Muncie, Indiana. Let's get to it:
In Altamonte Springs, Florida, an Altamonte Springs police officer and his wife were arrested Monday night on federal drug and weapons charges. Officer Clay Adams, a nine-year veteran and former member of the department's drug task force, was arrested by DEA and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents when he went to work Monday night. Adams and his wife are accused of operating a marijuana grow house that supplied pot to distributors in Tallahassee, as well as dealing in illicit prescription drugs. Adams is also accused of possessing weapons and explosives. The pair went down after a person Adams recruited to work in the operation turned out to be a snitch. Adams and his wife were jailed pending a hearing today.
In Miami, five Miami-Dade County jail guards were arrested last Friday after being indicted by a federal grand jury for smuggling drugs into the facility. They went down thanks to an FBI undercover operation in which an agent posed as a drug dealer and sold them heroin and cocaine for resale behind bars. A jail kitchen employee and several inmates were also charged. The guards face a maximum 20-year sentence on each charge and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
In Miami, two Miami-Dade police officers were arrested July 17 during a joint state-federal raid on a cocaine and gambling ring. Officer Michael Anthony King, 42, faces state charges of illegal gambling and federal charges of aiding and abetting the distribution of powder and crack cocaine. King is a 19-year veteran officer. Officer Antonio Roberts, a 27-year veteran of the force, faces similar charges. They were among 36 people arrested in the raid, including former Dade County corrections officer Marvin "Cone Head" Coney, who is accused of being a cocaine distributor. King and Roberts allegedly used their positions as police officers to help Cone Head and others avoid arrest. If convicted, they face sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison.
In St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Department has been using seized cars, including those seized in drug busts, to keep the chief's daughter in new vehicles, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It wasn't just Aimie Mokwa, the daughter of Chief Joe Mokwa, who benefited from the sweetheart deal between the department and St. Louis Metropolitan Towing, which handles seized vehicles for the city. Police officers also received similar perks, such as free use of seized vehicles and the opportunity to buy them for deeply reduced prices. Now, Chief Mokwa has stopped the practice, but many questions remain. The Post-Dispatch story goes into all the tawdry details.
In Muncie, Indiana, abuses in the way the Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force and the county prosecutor handled local drug asset forfeiture cases are prompting new, tighter rules. Under a draft of the new rules written by a Delaware Circuit Court 2 Judge Richard Dailey, criminal cases will actually have to be disposed of before any civil forfeiture action can begin, and an independent attorney -- not the county prosecutor -- will handle those cases. Current County Prosecutor Mark McKinney received almost $100,000 in attorney's fees over the past decade for handling forfeiture cases. The prosecutor and the drug task force made confidential agreements to divvy up the booty, using much of it to fund further task force operations, as well as buying equipment for police gyms and carpeting the prosecutor's office, a violation of Indiana state law. That law says proceeds from drug forfeitures should be placed in local government general funds and common school funds after law enforcement costs have been paid.
Thanks to Stopthedrugwar.org
A North Texas officer snitches for the Zetas, a Louisiana cop gets a package of pot from Mexico, a New Jersey Transit cop gets popped with pounds of pot, a Mississippi cop gets nailed for stealing from the dope fund, and an Ohio narc goes to prison for stealing coke. Let's get to it:
In Dallas, a former Collin County deputy constable was arrested July 8 for allegedly passing law enforcement information on to his cousin, who state and federal officials say is a "cell leader" for the Zetas, the hit men for the Mexican Gulf Cartel. Deputy Constable Robert Benavides is charged with six counts of abuse of official capacity for checking on whether any arrest warrants were pending for his cousin and for running the registration on vehicles his cousin suspected were police surveillance vehicles. In return, Benavides received "several grams" of cocaine, he allegedly told authorities. Benavides went down after a DEA agent surveilling his cousin recorded conversations on the cousin's cell phone, including one to him. Benavides has worked for several Texas law enforcement agencies, most recently at the Richland College Police Department, where he is now on paid administrative leave.
In Marksville, Louisiana, a Marksville police officer was arrested July 9 after taking delivery of a drug-laden package from Mexico. Officer Victor Greenhouse, 40, is charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute after he was busted with seven pounds of pot when Louisiana State Police and Avoyelles Parish sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant at his home. Local authorities said they had been tipped off to the package by police in Houston. Greenhouse is now on administrative leave and was residing at the Avoyelles Parish Jail at latest report.
In Newark, New Jersey, a New Jersey Transit police officer was arrested July 10 after police found four pounds of marijuana in the back seat of his car. Sgt. Barrington Williams, 46, was arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by the Transit Police and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He is charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, illegal possession of a handgun (because he had his service revolver with him during the incident) and official misconduct. He is out on $5,000 cash bail, but is suspended without pay from his $87,000-a-year job.
In Natchez, Mississippi, a former Natchez police officer turned himself in July 10 to face charges he ripped off the Metro Narcotics unit where he worked. Former officer Eric Kaho, 30, was indicted by an Adams County grand jury for allegedly embezzling more than $500 from a fund that included seized drug money and Metro Narcotics "drug buy" money. Kaho went on sick leave last year, but accidentally shot himself in the chest shortly before he was scheduled to return to work.
In Lisbon, Ohio, a former Colombiana County narc was sentenced July 9 to a year in prison for stealing cocaine under his control. Former undercover narcotics officer Thomas Smith, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of theft in office after cocaine in a storage unit came up missing. Smith had recently retired from the sheriff's office, where he made numerous undercover drug buys over the years.
The Massachusetts government has announced that it has certified a landmark marijuana decriminalization initiative for the November 4 ballot — which is the first time in history that an initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession will appear on any statewide ballot.*
When MPP polled Massachusetts voters in February 2007 on this question, we found that the initiative was supported by a 60% to 30% margin (with 10% undecided).
The initiative would reduce the penalties in Massachusetts so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be punishable only by a ticket and a $100 fine — similar to a speeding ticket — with no arrest, no jail or other penalties, no lawyer's fees, and no court appearances. Please visit http://www.sensiblemarijuanapolicy.org/ to learn more about the initiative.
MPP has been working closely with the Massachusetts campaign operation, the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP), to ensure the initiative's placement on the ballot. CSMP turned in more than 100,000 signatures last November and another 20,000 last month to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
Your help is now needed to wage a strong campaign between now and Election Day to ensure that this groundbreaking initiative passes. Would you please visit www.SensibleMarijuanaPolicy.org/donate.html to donate $10 or more today?
CSMP — led by campaign manager and long-time Massachusetts activist Whitney A. Taylor — is well-positioned to make history this November: In addition to completing both parts of the intensive signature drive, the campaign successfully lobbied the Massachusetts Legislature not to take any action that would harm the campaign, in addition to building a statewide coalition of opinion leaders who support the initiative and volunteers who will be working to pass the initiative.
Would you please visit www.SensibleMarijuanaPolicy.org/donate.html to make your most generous donation to the campaign today? I want to thank you in advance for anything you can do to help.
Marijuana Policy Project
* Seven out of seven statewide initiatives to end various aspects of marijuana prohibition have failed over the course of our nation's history — in California (1972), Oregon (1986), Alaska (2000 and 2004), Nevada (2002 and 2006), and Colorado (2006). At a minimum, all seven initiatives would have removed all penalties for marijuana possession. The Massachusetts initiative is polling much better than any of these seven initiatives because it seeks a more modest change — to treat marijuana possession like a speeding ticket, rather than imposing no penalty at all.
Thanks as always to Stopthedrugwar.org
In Toledo, Ohio, a Lucas County corrections officer was arrested June 18 after authorities with a warrant searched his home and found cocaine, scales, baggies, and cash. Thomas Walker, 24, was charged with permitting drug abuse. The two-year veteran of the sheriff's department has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of his case.
In Waterbury, Connecticut, a Waterbury police officer was arrested Monday for allegedly warning a friend he was the target of a drug investigation. Officer Israel Lugo, 29, is charged with illegally disclosing information about a state police drug investigation that netted 20 pounds of marijuana. He allegedly used a police computer to check the license plate of a state police undercover car for a friend whose home was raided last week. The friend suspected he was being tailed by police and called Lugo for help.
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, two Broward County sheriff's deputies were charged Monday with acting as guards for supposed drug loads in a federal sting. Deputy Richard Tauber, 37, was arrested last week and promptly agreed to snitch on his colleague, Deputy Kevin Frankle, 38. Tauber is accused of helping load a plane with what he thought were 50 kilos of cocaine, while Frankle stood watch. Bail was set at $60,000 for Tauber; Frankle was awaiting a Thursday bail hearing.
In Shreveport, Louisiana, a former Shreveport police officer went on trial this week for alleged drug-peddling. Former Officer Roderick Moore, 52, faces two counts of drug distribution. Moore's downhill slide began last August, when he was suspended from the force after a drunk driving arrest. Then, in November, he was arrested on the drug charges and fired. That bust went down after the Caddo-Shreveport Narcotics Task Force received information he was selling drugs. Moore faces one other drug charge -- a possession beef in Bossier Parish stemming from the November search of his home.
In Brownsville, Texas, a Cameron County constable pleaded guilty June 19 to selling drugs he stole from the evidence locker. Former Precinct 1 Constable Saul Ochoa copped to one federal count of distributing 10 pounds of marijuana. He may have made off with up to 175 pounds of marijuana stored under his control. According to evidence logs, 190 pounds should have been in storage, but federal investigators could only find 15 pounds the day they arrested Ochoa. Now, county authorities are trying to figure out how to handle drug cases where the evidence has gone missing.
In McAllen, Texas, a former Border Patrol agent pleaded guilty Tuesday to lying about his failure to document cocaine he seized. Juan Espinoza, 31, copped a plea to making false statements or entries after internal investigators found a duffel bag full of cocaine he had seized but not reported. Espinoza is free on bond pending a September 16 sentencing date. He faces up to five years in prison.
Just watch how the New York Times editorial board picks apart the Drug Czar's propaganda:
According to the White House, this country is scoring big wins in the war on drugs, especially against the cocaine cartels. Officials celebrate that cocaine seizures are up — leading to higher prices on American streets. Cocaine use by teenagers is down, and, officials say, workplace tests suggest adult use is falling.
John Walters, the White House drug czar, declared earlier this year that “courageous and effective” counternarcotics efforts in Colombia and Mexico “are disrupting the production and flow of cocaine.”
This enthusiasm rests on a very selective reading of the data. Another look suggests that despite the billions of dollars the United States has spent battling the cartels, it has hardly made a dent in the cocaine trade.
The Drug Czar's blog fired back with a predictably off-target, but uncharacteristically hostile response:
Today's New York Times has published an editorial that willfully cherry picks data in order to conform to their tired, 1970's editorial viewpoint that we're "losing the war on drugs."
Despite our numerous efforts to provide the Times with the facts, their editorial staff has chosen to ignore irrefutable data regarding the progress that has been made in making our nation's drug problem smaller.
And yet, as anyone can see, the NYT piece clearly acknowledges this so-called "irrefutable data." They list the Drug Czar's favorite talking points right in the first paragraph. But then they do something he wasn't prepared for: they say it doesn't matter. The salient point of the whole editorial is that "the drug cartels are not running for cover." In short, for all the Drug Czar's proud proclamations of progress, the drug trade surges on unabated.
It's really just embarrassing that the Drug Czar's only response is to repeat the very points already acknowledged and overcome by NYT. His whole argument is that rates of drug abuse are lower than they were at their highest point in history. That's true, but it's not surprising, not impressive, and not even remotely a result of the Drug Czar's poisonous public policies. With the rage of a shamed tyrant, Walters claims a monopoly on "the facts," as though only the Drug Czar is qualified to interpret the success of his programs. It's like calling CarMax to ask them if they have the best deals on used cars.
Beyond all that, ponder the absurdity of the very notion that we must consult the Drug Czar and his overcooked statistics in order to know whether or not our drug policy is working really well. We can observe these things for ourselves. When we lead the world in incarceration, when we lead the world in drug use, when we drug test our own sewage, and deny organs to medical marijuana patients, and murder innocent people in their homes, and subsidize brutal civil wars in foreign nations, we have nothing to celebrate. All of these grand travesties fester before our eyes and are not mitigated, even to a microscopic extent, by the indignant self-congratulatory fulminations of the very people who visited this spectacular nightmare upon us.