Disasters of The Drug Wars


darkbeaver
Republican
#1
America, Intoxicated: Conference Tackles Disasters of the Drug War

By Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet
Posted on December 11, 2007, Printed on December 11, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/70195/


Kathryn Johnston paid the ultimate price in the name of our country's perversely titled "war on drugs." She wasn't a soldier, but she was most certainly another innocent casualty on domestic soil.
It's quite likely that her murder would have gone with little, if any, notice had it not been for the fact that she was a 92-year-old black woman shot to death when Atlanta narcotics officers burst through her door using a "no-knock warrant." The officers had the wrong house. When Johnston scrambled for an old gun stashed in her house to try to save her life from people she assumed were trying to rob or hurt her, she fired one shot and missed. The plain clothed officers fired back, over and over again. Johnston died in the blast of gunfire, in which several officers were wounded in what is euphemistically referred by the U.S. military as "friendly fire."
Johnston's death at the hands of overzealous narcotics officers shocked Atlanta and then made national headlines when the officers involved were exposed for having planted drugs in her house in an outrageous attempt to try to cover up their deadly blunder.
Last month, on the anniversary of Johnston's death, Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington proudly announced that his department now had "the best-trained narcotics unit in the Southeast," having doubled its ranks and instituted new rules. No-knock warrants were still acceptable but only if they were "approved by a major" and if officers wore uniforms.
Akin to the expansion of the Atlanta narcotics unit in the wake of a disgrace like this one, the drug war keeps expanding its reach. As of year-end 2006, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that American jails and prisons held a record-breaking 2,258,983 men and women, and that one in 31 adults are now under some form of correctional supervision. Analysis of the report, released last week by The Sentencing Project revealed that, since 1980, there has been a 1,200 percent increase in the number of people incarcerated for the possession or sale of illicit substances, from 41,100 to at least 532,400 today. At nearly double the rate of men, the number of women in prison has increased by 812 percent in that same time period. In October, the Marijuana Policy Project also reported that marijuana arrests exceeded nearly 830,000 in the same year, resulting in one pot-related arrest every 38 seconds.
What mainstream news coverage of the record-setting incarceration rates existed all but faded within a few days after the BJS report, but at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, held last week in New Orleans, the numbers remained front-and-center. Organized by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the conference brought 1,200 participants together from across the world to discuss the international ripple effects of relentlessly aggressive drug policies.
AlterNet was honored with an Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Journalism for its coverage on drug war policies in the United States and other parts of the world. Accepting the award on behalf of AlterNet was executive director Don Hazen, who noted that individual, drug war-related stories are attracting upwards of 100,000 readers.
Among dozens of other topics on the worldwide social and economic repercussions of the drug war, panelists addressed President Bush's latest proposed funding package of $1.4 billion in drug war "aid" to Mexico, now awaiting congressional approval. Panelists and attendees arrived in New Orleans from across the United States, the Netherlands, Poland, Columbia, Bolivia, Argentina, Hungary, Brazil, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, but the gravity of police abuse and corruption related to racism and the drug war brought in local reformers as well. From needle exchange to the bleak history of Louisiana's jails, prisons and juvenile detention facilities, participants emphasized that New Orleans, and the state as a whole, has consistently grown more regressive in policing and drug-related arrests of low-income residents.
African-American residents have, by far, fared the worst in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans. Evidence of such is hardly anecdotal, backed by last week's Justice Policy Institute (JPI) report, "The Vortex: The Concentrated Racial Impact of Drug Imprisonment and the Characteristics of Punitive Counties." JPI's extensive research into regional drug use and arrest disparities uncovered that Orleans County (in which New Orleans is located) had the third-highest rate of sentencing for drug offenses, followed closely by Louisiana's Jefferson County. Respectively, the two counties incarcerated African-Americans at four and nine times the rate of Euro-Americans.
The local situation mirrors a disturbing, national phenomenon that has resulted in nearly one million black men and women doing time in American jails and prisons. (African-American juveniles, and youth of color in general, are also heavily overrepresented in detention facilities.) Because many states do not report the number of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Asian/Pacific Islanders -- and many others assign incorrect ethnicities to Latinos and Native Americans in particular, national figures are difficult to ascertain. (Of the states that do keep these statistics, Alaska, South Dakota, Montana and Washington are known to lock up Native Americans at up to four times their demographic representation, largely on drug-related sentences.)
Although the disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans and other people of color has long since been a matter of grave consequence, previous DPA conferences have been noticeably devoid of significant participation by both former prisoners, low-income community members and people of color, something that the organization has worked diligently to remedy through collaborative outreach campaigns. The efforts appeared to have made a significant difference in both attendance and the presentation of workshops and large-scale plenaries, including "Black America: The Debate Within," which centered on the absence of most civil rights leaders organizations in the pursuit of meaningful criminal justice reform.
"If [mainstream civil rights organizations] were to come here, they would see what's possible and what kind of constituents they truly have. There is such tremendous energy, drive and passion here," said DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann at the close of the conference. "People feel the suffering in their communities, and they recognize that drug policy reform is one of the key ways to go about changing what they are seeing and experiencing."
Silja J.A. Talvi is an investigative journalist and the author of Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System (Seal Press: 2007). Her work has already appeared in many book anthologies, including It's So You (Seal Press, 2007), Prison Nation (Routledge: 2005), Prison Profiteers (The New Press: 200 and Body Outlaws (Seal Press: 2004). She is a senior editor at In These Times.
2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/70195/
 
Unforgiven
#2
The more I see the more I start to think that we need a whole new revolutionary war to bring and end to the death grip that holds North America hostage to backward ideas and a disasterous power grab.
 
Nuggler
#3
Right, so lets get on the wagon (tumbrel) with "Steve the stooge" and declare war on
1 crime
2 drugs
3 terrahists
4 anybody who doesn't want to get on the wagon

It's been so effective in the US of A, cain't hardly wait to see the wunnerful results we gonna get up here.

 
gopher
No Party Affiliation
+1
#4  Top Rated Post
the officers involved were exposed for having planted drugs in her house in an outrageous attempt to try to cover up their deadly blunder.


Note how none of the forum's radical right wingers who normally condemn government intrusion into people's lives have nothing to say about it.

Why?

Because, as always, they are a bunch of unprincipled hypocrites.
 
Unforgiven
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by gopher View Post

the officers involved were exposed for having planted drugs in her house in an outrageous attempt to try to cover up their deadly blunder.


Note how none of the forum's radical right wingers who normally condemn government intrusion into people's lives have nothing to say about it.

Why?

Because, as always, they are a bunch of unprincipled hypocrites.

Heh heh yer a sparkin fer a tussle now ain'tcha Goph! While I do agree to some extent, I'll be yer huckleberry anyway and give yer a good goin' over.

Shut the hell up hippy, Jesus hates you anyway! Ann Coulter is the mother of tolerance for a new America!

Let me see you deal with that!
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#6
Wonder if these morons have ever considered if they'd just back off and let 'em be stoned, they won't notice every time the great war machine hiccups?

Woof!
 
MikeyDB
#7
Lone Wolf

There's more to your argument than meets the eye for sure, but the inverse is also true. Because there are enormous profits in controlled substances this opportunity is simply too appealing to existing organized crime networks to ignore. If we look at the wars of prohibition that took place on the streets of many American cities between rivals for the lucrative illegal booze business it's not too difficult to imagine a similar scenario when it comes to "controlled substances" of the powder and leaf varieties.

Because marijuana in particular has been unjustly vilified as a "gateway narcotic" and there are many occurrances of criminality associated with grow-ops and distribution networks, the focus is less on the reality of this behavioral phenomenon than it is on the "results" of state control or at least efforts to control...

Like most things in life it comes down to money....

If the state regulated marijuana (although "the state" hasn't demonstrated a capacity or facility at very much) it could tax this behavior. However, the conditioning against marijuana use has been so long and so extensive in its promulgation that we may be looking at a similar dynamic with respect to the experiences of prohibition.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by MikeyDB View Post

Lone Wolf

There's more to your argument than meets the eye for sure, but the inverse is also true. Because there are enormous profits in controlled substances this opportunity is simply too appealing to existing organized crime networks to ignore. If we look at the wars of prohibition that took place on the streets of many American cities between rivals for the lucrative illegal booze business it's not too difficult to imagine a similar scenario when it comes to "controlled substances" of the powder and leaf varieties.

Because marijuana in particular has been unjustly vilified as a "gateway narcotic" and there are many occurrances of criminality associated with grow-ops and distribution networks, the focus is less on the reality of this behavioral phenomenon than it is on the "results" of state control or at least efforts to control...

Like most things in life it comes down to money....

If the state regulated marijuana (although "the state" hasn't demonstrated a capacity or facility at very much) it could tax this behavior. However, the conditioning against marijuana use has been so long and so extensive in its promulgation that we may be looking at a similar dynamic with respect to the experiences of prohibition.

I'm all for decriminalization, legislated supply and outing the gangster. Somewhere in these archives are several posts to that effect. Methinks the one great reason government can't back down comes in the loss of face in about face.

Woof!
 
MikeyDB
#9
I agree Wolf but the attitude that's contributed to the current "opinion" regarding drugs is based (at least in part) on observations gleened from history. It's a complex facade and we're not encouraged to look past the "political correctness" of this issue but we find guns and criminality, the sanctity of marriage and the ever-present racial conflicts attached to this phenomenon. Governments and control-freaks don't want people to realize that subtle interrelationships exist across the spectrum of human behavior that both contribute to concretizing perceptions and facilitating misdirection. Think about the many and often quite succinct and entirely valid arguments that appear on many issues that demand that we examine and re-examine our beliefs our attitudes and our behaviours when it comes to social evolution....

Proponents of prohibition cited break-up of the nuclear family, lawlessness and the added burden of these elements on an already burdened social framework. There is a kernel of truth behind even the most trite cliches and while we've come to terms with the alcohol issue, and seem prepared to accept the consequences of those decisions, the same dynamic is at work behind tobbacco use and controlled substances. The overarching notion seems to be that the very fabric of "civilized society" will crumble and fall before the blue haze of decent weed....

A complex issue but more is involved in breaking down these perceptions and re-establishing connections with reality in the minds of many people around human behavior. Just like terrorism and fraud, while the behaviors are exercised within our cultures and our societies by the wealthy and the powerful, it will take even more time for the great unwashed to decide that confronting these issues is both worthwhile and possible...because we've been conditioned to believe many other half-truthes about this and much of what passes for informed opinion about many things.

We've talked about corruption in government and big business, and nothing much has changed over the past hundred years when it comes to what the larger proportion of society seems prepared to do about it...

Same dynamic is at work behind controlled substances.
 
Just the Facts
Free Thinker
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Unforgiven View Post

The more I see the more I start to think that we need a whole new revolutionary war to bring and end to the death grip that holds North America hostage to backward ideas and a disasterous power grab.

.....or, you could start a new party and run for election. A little more work, but much less messy.
 
darkbeaver
Republican
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by Just the Facts View Post

.....or, you could start a new party and run for election. A little more work, but much less messy.

A LITTLE more work? Try about two-hundred years and theen the revolution and then maybe you'd win. If the question was put to the electorate as it should be, cannibis would be a garden variety plant available at Wal-mark. It will never get through the present system because the present system isn't even a poor facsimile for a working democracy. That's just an opinion by the way.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#12
Yeah ... but if you hold a li'l revolution, you get tagged as a terrorist - unless of course you have tea and a harbour handy. The party? That might come with the pot - but then again, so would the cops thus messing your chances for government office. It's much too complicated without a scorecard....

Woof!
 
gopher
No Party Affiliation
+1
#13
``Ann Coulter is the mother of tolerance for a new America! ``


HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

Hey, here's what we do: BLAME CLINTON!
 
darkbeaver
Republican
#14
Hey Gopher they'll be able to blame a Clinton next year won't they, and then that'll mean they can blame Clinton the 1st for Clinton the 2nd what
 
hermite
Free Thinker
#15
Isn't that what the Green Party used to be all about, in the U.S. anyway? You see how well that worked out.

Let the people vote on it? That's an awfully revolutionary idea there.
 
Unforgiven
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by Just the Facts View Post

.....or, you could start a new party and run for election. A little more work, but much less messy.

It's funny I just had this discussion with a young man in my local just this weekend.
He ran for the NDP but was beaten out by a person much more compatible with the idea of who the party wanted to attract as a voter base. While he did have superior ideas, imho a higher moral standard and ethical basis to lead a constituency, he was passed over in favour of someone who could survive the rigors of political life and rather than stand against, would understand the method of manipulation should the House be attained.

The clearly shows to me that an honest politician doesn't stand a chance in Ottawa and should one come along, the good old boys won't just stand around why he walks through the front door. They have their own ideas on who should be admitted into the club as much as we think we choose who it is that represents us.

In reality, they offer up a choice of a couple of three people and that's what you and I get to pick from. But no matter what, there is no provision for none of the above.
 

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