March 23, 2012
“This is disgusting. How do people like this even get in the US military? Oh wait – these are exactly the kind of people they want.” –KTRN
One of the guards involved in the 2004 Abu Ghraib abuse scandal says she does not regret her actions. The revelation comes in the wake of the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a US soldier, further tarnishing the image of the American military.
“Their lives are better. They got the better end of the deal,” England said in an interview with The Daily referring to the Iraqi prisoners who were sexually and physically abused in the infamous prison near Baghdad. “They weren’t innocent. They were trying to kill us and you want me to apologize to them? It’s like saying sorry to the enemy.”
Lynndie England, 29, became one of the symbols of the controversial 2003 US invasion of Iraq after photographs of her smiling while giving a thumbs-up in front of a pile of naked Iraqi detainees and pulling a man by a leash went public. The pictures sparked international outrage and shone a spotlight on the abuse and misconduct committed by US soldiers, fueling anti-American sentiments across the world.
“All the prisoners that were there were on the tier of high-priority. They were there for a reason. They had killed coalition forces or they were planning to,” England told The Daily on Monday. “They had information about where insurgents were hiding.”
Instead of feeling remorse, the former prison guard Lynndie England is more worried about the lives of fellow US soldiers who could have been endangered by the scandal. “I think about it all the time – indirect deaths that were my fault, losing people on our side because of me coming out on a picture.”
England was among eleven military personnel convicted in 2005 in connection with the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib. She was sentenced to three years in prison and dishonorably discharged from the military.
March 20, 2012
“Let’s just hope this isn’t true …” –KTRN
A new report reveals that US forces continue to send detainees to prisons where torture is practiced, despite NATO’s promise to suspend prison transfers last September.
The report carried out by the Afghan Independent Rights Commission and the Open Society Foundation documents numerous cases of torture in Afghan detention facilities between February 2011 and January 2012.
The document has credible evidence in 11 recent cases where practices such as “beatings, suspension from the ceiling, electric shocks, threatened or actual sexual abuse, and other forms of mental and physical abuse” were commonplace. Researchers also discovered widespread violations of prisoners’ rights were in evidence, “including the right to counsel and family notification.”
According to the study, these techniques are “routinely used to obtain confessions or other information.”
Abuses were found to be committed both in Afghan National Police facilities (ANP) and the National Directorate of Security facilities (NDS).
Moreover, the document presents evidence that even after NATO announced it would suspend prison transfers in September, “some US forces or personnel continue to transfer individuals to NDS Kandahar.” The risk of torture for the detainees upon arrival was “widely acknowledged.” In spite of this fact, “CIA or other US intelligence officials” may be sending prisoners to banned facilities.
February 16, 2012
By Joe Wright
“There is big money to be made in prisons. Why do you think more people are incarcerated in the US than any other country? It’s always all about the money.” –KTRN
A new report from Chris Kirkham for Huffington Post, reinforces my treatment of his previous article which covered news that Florida would privatize 20% of their prisons, following the trend taken by other states. This is supposedly due to state budget shortfalls that need assistance from the private sector. As Kirkham continues to demonstrate, this particular argument is the weakest of all, given the documented facts. Nevertheless, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has forged ahead even further by recently submitting letters to 48 states offering to buy prisons: “In exchange … for a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Huffington Post.” View Kirkham’s latest must-read article here.
The article below provides some of the background to this latest maneuvering by CCA.
Well, it’s nice work if you can get it. Florida is set to privatize all of its prisons south of Orlando — 20% of its total — according to a report issued by Chris Kirkham for Huffington Post.
The for-profit prison scheme is a case study in crony capitalism, as it involves private prison corporations donating to the politicians best in position to grant them lucrative contracts. Cenk Uygur, in the video below, breaks down this “cherry picking” strategy that sets up FL taxpayers to carry the burden of failure, while corporate/government interests land another windfall; in this case, the largest procurement contract in the industry’s history:
Beyond this single blatant example of lobbying by private interests in the state of Florida, the trend of privatizing prisons has been ongoing since the first business was established in 1984*, and is slated to rise in coming years. Furthermore, the implications of what it means that private companies are taking over captive populations should also be examined.
The U.S. prison population continues to explode, as America plunges headlong into becoming a bona fide police state. The federal policies of criminalizing just about everything, offer a built-in growth sector for any corporation that can capture it. No wonder, then, that companies like GE have gotten in on the action, while the nation’s largest private contractors, Corrections Corporation of America and GEO (formerly Wackenhut), have combined revenues well into the billion of dollars per year. And they are international in scope. (Source)
February 14, 2012
By Al Jazeera
“If the US is truly the land of the free, why are there so many people in prison here?” –KTRN
The US has the highest prison population in the world – some of whom have been subjected to lengthy sentences for relatively minor crimes. And that population has surged over the past three decades.
Although there has been a slight reduction in the past year, more than two million people are either incarcerated in prison or in jail awaiting trial.
The US has the highest rate of imprisonment in the world, with 743 people incarcerated for every 100,000 Americans. No other nation even comes close to these figures.
One explanation for the boom in the prison population is the mandatory sentencing imposed for drug offences and the “tough on crime” attitude that has prevailed since the 1980s.
But it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes US prison policy. Some prisoners are locked up for life – literally – and many receive harsh sentences for non-violent crime.
These long sentences are leading to an ageing prison population – with eight per cent of prisoners now over the age of 55. This, in turn, is increasing the burden of providing healthcare and geriatric services.
February 3, 2012
By Karen De Coster
Public education, in its current state, is based on the idea that government is the “parent” best equipped to provide children with the values and wisdom required to grow into intelligent, functional adults. To echo what former first lady Hillary Clinton professed, these public school champions believe “it takes a village” to cultivate a society of competent human beings.
As Hebrew University historian Martin van Crevald points out in his book, The Rise and Decline of the State, nineteenth-century state worshippers who wanted to impose a love of big government ideals upon the youth popularized the archetype for state-directed education. Additionally, there was an overall appetite for discipline of the “unruly” masses that reinforced the campaign to take education out of the hands of individuals. After all, the self-educated masses might resist government decrees, and this kind of disarray would be undesirable in the move toward building a powerful, controlling state apparatus. Prussia’s Frederick William I and France’s Napoleon discerned this, as did a legion of other despotic rulers throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In a recent article published on the American Daily Herald “Dumberer and Dumberest,” Glenn Horowitz writes:
If you’re not familiar with it, the Prussian system was a teaching methodology designed to stamp out good little worker bees assembly-line fashion, trained to be complacent with their station in life and compliant with every demand of the State. An elite of those better educated but still proven unquestioningly loyal to the State were promoted to lead the proletariat, rewarded with elevated status and material success commensurate with their skills and the zeal they demonstrate in supporting the system. It specifically avoided developing creativity and independent thought, reasoning these were skills the worker classes didn’t need in their roles as mass produced labor.
Modern education is built upon a foundation set forth by tyrants. What is most disquieting about the public education mindset is that those who believe most strongly in it are convinced that there are no other suitable alternatives to the compulsory schooling provided via the public domain. The egalitarian core belief of these public education proponents is that society is responsible for obtaining, maintaining, and paying for the process of equally developing young minds.
Since the laws of the modern state that control the educational system lean heavily toward equality, federal compulsory schooling is necessarily a bias against the best and brightest of America’s children. Federalized education sustains the philosophy that schools have the obligation to treat all students as pure equals – equal in intelligence, work ethic, performance, and desire.
Such nonsense is refuted by H. George Resch in his article “Equality vs. Equity” on the Separation of School and State website. Mr. Resch contends that compulsory, government-controlled education is trying to achieve ends that are not possible due to the fact that general equality is not only impossible to define, but that biological, environmental, and cultural differences among us are so vast that a compulsory, standardized public education poses difficulties that cannot be overcome, and certainly not by a government-run school system.
January 27, 2012
By MARK KARLIN
“Land of the free … yeah right.” –KTRN
One thing that the GOP doesn’t bring up much anymore is crime.
In the ’70s and ’80s, crime was one of the biggest red-meat issues that the Republicans demagogued about. An infamous political ad about an inmate released in Governor Dukakis’ prison probation program probably (along with some other missteps) lost him the presidency in 1988. It was simply known as getting “Wilie Hortoned,” named after the offender (in the attack ad), who was singled out as an example of “liberalism” molly coddling violent criminals.
However, the Republicans can’t talk about being soft on crime anymore, because the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It’s not just a penal system; it’s an industry. And due to the aging of the population (young people commit most “crimes”), changing police practices and the locking up of so many poor people, crime in the United States is down – down dramatically.
A New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik, “The Caging of America,” shockingly notes:
Over all, there are now more people under “correctional supervision” in America – more than six million – than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height. That city of the confined and the controlled, Lockuptown, is now the second largest in the United States.
And the toll on minorities is devastating:
For a great many poor people in America, particularly poor black men, prison is a destination that braids through an ordinary life, much as high school and college do for rich white ones. More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives. Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today – perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system – in prison, on probation, or on parole – than were in slavery then.
Gopnik is appalled: “The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life.”
The roots of violence are complex, but don’t equate our incarceration system with just violent offenders. There is an extremely large percentage of American citizens in jail for nonviolent offenses, particularly relating to drugs – and particularly minorities in relation to drug “violations.”
To what degree our propensity to hold the world’s record for people behind bars is due to economic disparity is not an idle question. There aren’t many wealthy people who end up behind bars, nor do rich areas evidence much crime for which people find themselves in prison, except for an occasional Bernie Madoff. Wealthy people tend to commit financial crimes – and if their breaking of the law does not involve millions of dollars, they tend to strike a plea bargain that doesn’t require being put in a cell for years on end.
January 16, 2012
By Jonathan Benson
“Thank you for making us safe, TSA … and thanks for stealing our stuff too. Imagine how many cases go unreported?” –KTRN
Any normal person found guilty of stealing $40,000 from, say, a bank or an employer, would likely be sentenced to at least five years of prison. But when you work for the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), you can expect to be given special legal treatment and sent on your way.
The Associated Press reports that two former TSA screeners, 44-year-old Coumar Persad and 31-year-old Davon Webb, both of which worked at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, have pleaded guilty to grand larceny, obstructing governmental administration, and official misconduct, for stealing nearly $40,000 from an airport traveler’s luggage. But rather than receive a normal prison sentence for such crimes, the two were sentenced to just six months in prison with five years of probation.
Reports indicate that Persad, who was an X-ray luggage screener at the time, had spotted the wad of cash in a suitcase while monitoring the X-ray screen. He reportedly then contacted Webb, who worked in another baggage area, to watch for the bag and mark it with special tape. Persad later intercepted the bag in another baggage handling area, and proceeded to open it up and take the cash.
All in all, the two thieves snagged $39,980, which was later retrieved by police from the men’s homes. But based on typical sentencing guidelines, the punishment the two men received for their crimes is inadequate, and indicative of the lax manner in which TSA agents who violate the law are treated within the justice system.
December 23, 2011
If you’re upset that congressional approval of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 can send you away to military prisons and be tortured in America, don’t worry — it could be worse.
The US could send you somewhere else.
No, really. They could. And they can. Anywhere else, too. Really.
While the bill that left Capitol Hill last week and awaits authorization from US President Barack Obama allows for the United States to indefinitely detain and torture American citizens suspected of aiding enemy forces, one provision in the bill specifies that that detention doesn’t necessarily have to occur domestically — nor does it have to be in a foreign prison run by the US.
The ongoing detention of foreign terror suspects at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been a hot topic since the War on Terror began, with American military authorities torturing could-be criminals without ever bringing them to trial. An exposé years earlier on the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq revealed how American troops were subjecting detainees to disgusting, inhumane conditions; conditions which left some dead without ever going to trial. While Abu Ghraib has since been shut down, Guantanamo Bay continues to hold suspected criminals despite a promise to Obama to shut it down.
When the commander-in-chief inks his name to NDAA FY2012, Americans can be on their way to the same torture cells that have kept al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked terrorists for the last decade. It’s now been revealed, however, that US citizens and anyone suspected of a crime against America can be sent all over the world.
Under the legislation, the president has the power to transfer suspected terrorists “to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.”
China? Sure. Iran? Why not! North Korea? That’s a possibility too. David Glazier, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, tells Mother Jones that this was an authority that the president has had before, but only under the new NDAA is the legislation endorsed and insured that it could be applied to Americans.
December 2, 2011
By Rania Khalek
“The US holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. Land of the free? Doesn’t sound quite right does it?” –KTRN
The United States, with just 5 percent of the world’s population, currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, and for the last 30 years America’s business entrepreneurs have found a lucrative way to cash in on the incarceration surplus: private for-profit prisons.
While the implications of an industry that locks human beings in cages for profit is an old story, there is an important part of the history of private prisons that often goes untold.
Just a decade ago, private prisons were a dying industry awash in corruption and mired in lawsuits, particularly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison operator. Today, these companies are booming once again, yet the lawsuits and scandals continue to pile up. Meanwhile, more and more evidence shows that compared to publicly run prisons, private jails are filthier, more violent, less accountable, and contrary to what privatization advocates peddle as truth, do not save money. In fact, more recent findings suggest that private prisons could be more costly.
So why are they still in business?
In a recently published report, “Banking on Bondage: Mass Incarceration and Private Prisons,” the American Civil Liberties Union examines the history of prison privatization and finds that private prison companies owe their continued and prosperous existence to skyrocketing immigration detention post September 11 as well as the firm hold they have gained over elected and appointed officials.
The Rise of Private Prisons
David Shapiro, the primary author of the ACLU report, told AlterNet that prior to the early 1980s, private prisons were “virtually nonexistent.” That quickly changed as the War on Drugs ‘tough on crime’ mentality swept the nation with institution of draconian sentencing and release laws for nonviolent offenders, causing an explosion in US incarceration rate. State and federal governments increasingly struggled with overcrowded prisons and the rising costs of housing the rapidly growing pool of inmates.
October 20, 2011
The Rutherford Institute
By John W. Whitehead
“On July 29, 2008, my family and I were terrorized by an errant Prince George’s County SWAT team. This unit forced entry into my home without a proper warrant, executed our beloved black Labradors, Payton and Chase, and bound and interrogated my mother-in-law and me for hours as they ransacked our belongings… As I was forced to kneel, bound at gun point on my living room floor, I recall thinking that there had been a terrible mistake. However, as I have learned more, I have to understand that what my family and I experience is part of a growing and troubling trend where law enforcement is relying on SWAT teams to perform duties once handled by ordinary police officers.”—Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo in testimony before the Maryland Senate
Insisting that the “damage done by drugs is felt far beyond the millions of Americans with diagnosable substance abuse or dependence problems,” President Obama has declared October 2011 to be National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. However, while drug abuse and drug-related crimes have unquestionably taken a toll on American families and communities, the government’s own War on Drugs has left indelible scars on the population.
Indeed, although the Obama administration has shied away from using the phrase “War on Drugs,” its efforts to crack down on illicit drug use—especially marijuana use—have not abated. Just consider—every 19 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for violating a drug law. Every 30 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for violating a marijuana law, making it the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States.
So far this year, approximately 1,313,673 individuals have been arrested for drug-related offenses. Police arrested an estimated 858,408 persons for marijuana violations in 2009. Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent were charged with possession only. Moreover, since December 31, 1995, the U.S. prison population has grown an average of 43,266 inmates per year, with about 25 percent sentenced for drug law violations.
The foot soldiers in the government’s increasingly fanatical war on drugs, particularly marijuana, are state and local police officers dressed in SWAT gear and armed to the hilt. These SWAT teams carry out roughly 50,000 no-knock raids every year in search of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. As author and journalist Radley Balko reports, “The vast majority of these raids are to serve routine drug warrants, many times for crimes no more serious than possession of marijuana… Police have broken down doors, screamed obscenities, and held innocent people at gunpoint only to discover that what they thought were marijuana plants were really sunflowers, hibiscus, ragweed, tomatoes, or elderberry bushes. (It’s happened with all five.)”
Take the case of Philip Cobbs, an unassuming 53-year-old African-American man who cares for his blind, deaf 90-year-old mother and lives on a 39-acre tract of land that’s been in his family since the 1860s. Cobbs is the latest in a long line of Americans to find themselves swept up in the government’s zealous pursuit of marijuana. On July 26, 2011, while spraying the blueberry bushes near his Virginia house, Cobbs noticed a black helicopter circling overhead. After watching the helicopter for several moments, Cobbs went inside to check on his mother. By the time he returned outside, several unmarked police SUVs had driven onto his property, and police in flak jackets, carrying rifles and shouting unintelligibly, had exited the vehicles and were moving toward him.
Although the officers insisted they had sighted marijuana plants growing on Cobbs’ property (they claimed to find two spindly plants growing in the wreckage of a fallen oak tree), their real objective was clear—to search Cobbs’ little greenhouse, which he had used that spring to start tomato plants, cantaloupes, and watermelons, as well as asters and hollyhocks. The search of the greenhouse turned up nothing more than used tomato seedling containers. Incredibly, police had not even bothered to secure a warrant before embarking on their raid of Cobbs’ property—part of a routine sweep of the countryside in search of pot-growing operations that had to cost taxpayers upwards of $25,000, at the very least.
Thankfully for Cobbs, no one was hurt during the warrantless raid on his property. However, that is not the case for many Americans who find themselves on the wrong end of a SWAT team raid in search of marijuana. For example, on May 5, 2011, a SWAT team kicked open the door of ex-Marine Jose Guerena’s home during a drug raid and opened fire. Thinking his home was being invaded by criminals, Guerena told his wife and child to hide in a closet, grabbed a gun and waited in the hallway to confront the intruders. He never fired his weapon. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. The SWAT officers, however, not as restrained, fired 70 rounds of ammunition at Guerena—23 of those bullets made contact. Guerena had had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.
Tragically, Jose Guerena is far from the only innocent casualty in the government’s War on Drugs. Botched SWAT team raids have resulted in the loss of countless lives, including children and the elderly. Usually, however, the first to be shot are the family dogs. As Balko reports:
When police in Fremont, California, raided the home of medical marijuana patient Robert Filgo, they shot his pet Akita nine times. Filgo himself was never charged. Last October  police in Alabama raided a home on suspicion of marijuana possession, shot and killed both family dogs, then joked about the kill in front of the family. They seized eight grams of marijuana, equal in weight to a ketchup packet. In January  a cop en route to a drug raid in Tampa, Florida, took a short cut across a neighboring lawn and shot the neighbor’s two pooches on his way. And last May , an officer in Syracuse, New York, squeezed off several shots at a family dog during a drug raid, one of which ricocheted and struck a 13-year-old boy in the leg. The boy was handcuffed at gunpoint at the time.
Clearly, something must be done. There was a time when communities would have been up in arms over a botched SWAT team raid resulting in the loss of innocent lives. Unfortunately, today, we are increasingly coming to accept the use of SWAT teams by law enforcement agencies for routine drug policing and the high incidence of error-related casualties that accompanies these raids.
What’s more, the government is providing incentives to the SWAT teams carrying out these raids through federal grants such as the Edward Byrne memorial grants and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants. As David Borden, the Executive Director of Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet), pointed out, “The exact details on how Byrne and COPS grants are distributed has not been studied, at least not to my knowledge, but an examination of grant applications by one of my colleagues found that they overwhelmingly focus on the number of arrests made, particularly drug arrests. Byrne grants also fund the purchase of equipment for SWAT teams.”
Unfortunately, while few of these raids even make the news, they are happening more and more frequently. As Borden notes, “In 1980 there were fewer than 3,000 reported SWAT raids. Now, the number is believed to be over 50,000 per year…About 3/4 of these are drug raids, perhaps more by now, the vast majority of them low-level.” Balko’s research reinforces this phenomenon. Based on more than a year’s worth of research and culled only from documented SWAT team incidents, Balko cites “40 cases in which a completely innocent person was killed. There are dozens more in which nonviolent offenders (recreational pot smokers, for example…) or police officers were needlessly killed. There are nearly 150 cases in which innocent families, sometimes with children, were roused from their beds at gunpoint, and subjected to the fright of being apprehended and thoroughly searched at gunpoint. There are other cases in which a SWAT team seems wholly inappropriate, such as the apprehension of medical marijuana patients, many of whom are bedridden.”
Despite the government’s current fanaticism about marijuana, America has not always been at war over the cannabis plant. In fact, in 1619, all farmers of the Jamestown colony were required to grow cannabis for rope and other military purposes. Over the next 200 years, a variety of laws required hemp harvesting. In some cases, landowners could be imprisoned for neglecting their duty to grow hemp. Oftentimes, a surplus of hemp could be used as legal tender, even for paying taxes. In 1850, there were 8,327 hemp plantations in the U.S.
It was only later, during the early 20th century, that the government embarked on an all-out assault on marijuana, largely due to corporate business considerations that favored the production of cotton over hemp and racist policies that tied Hispanics and blacks to marijuana use. For example, even though blacks only account for 15% of the drug using population (with whites making up a growing part of the market), the vast majority of drug arrests and convictions affect black drug users. Incredibly, more than 70% of prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses are black or Latino.
The time has come to put an end to the government’s racially-weighted, militant war on marijuana. It is a failed, costly and misguided program that has cost the country billions. As critics rightly point out, the war on marijuana has also resulted in a massive increase in incarceration rates. According to Joe Klein, writing for Time, “We spend $68 billion per year on corrections, and one-third of those being corrected are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. We spend about $150 billion on policing and courts, and 47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related.”
Worse, the government’s War on Drugs seems to have actually exacerbated the drug problems in this country, funding criminal syndicates and failing to restrict its availability or discourage its use. Indeed, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that as recently as 2005, 58% of the public found marijuana readily available, with 50% of 12 to 17 year olds declaring it easy to get.
A growing number of legal scholars, including Bruce Fein, who served as a high-ranking Justice Department official during the Reagan administration, are calling to end the prohibition on marijuana and treat it like alcohol by regulating and taxing it at the state level. Their rationale is that instead of allowing marijuana to flourish as a profitable black market crop, it should be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to tobacco and alcohol, which many in the medical community believe to be far more harmful than marijuana. Not only would that lessen violent criminal activity associated with the manufacture and sale of marijuana, but it would also provide an economic boost to ailing state and federal coffers. As it now stands, marijuana is the United States’ largest cash crop (it brought in an estimated $35 billion in 2005), with a third of this production coming from California where it is the state’s largest cash crop.
Recently, over 500 economists led by Nobel Laureate George Akerlof, Daron Acemoglu of MIT, and Howard Margolis of the University of Chicago, signed an open letter to the President, Congress, State Governors, and State Legislatures expounding the immense economic benefits of legalization. They pointed out that if marijuana sales were taxed at the same level as cigarettes and alcohol, the government would make up to $6.2 billion annually. Additionally, a repeal of the prohibition of marijuana would save federal, state, and local governments an estimated $7.7 billion annually by ending the need for enforcement of drug laws.
Acknowledging the medical benefits of marijuana, especially for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, 16 states as well as the District of Columbia have also legalized it for medicinal purposes. Most recently, the California Medical Association, which represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, called for the legalization and regulation of the plant.
As always, the special interests have a lot to say in these matters, and it’s particularly telling that those lobbying hard to keep the prohibition on marijuana include law enforcement officials and alcoholic beverage producers. However, when the war on drugs—a.k.a. the war on the American people—becomes little more than a thinly veiled attempt to keep SWAT teams employed and special interests appeased, it’s time to revisit our drug policies and laws. As Professors Eric Blumenson and Eva Nilson recognize:
During the 25 years of its existence, the “War on Drugs” has transformed the criminal justice system, to the point where the imperatives of drug law enforcement now drive many of the broader legislative, law enforcement, and corrections policies in counterproductive ways. One significant impetus for this transformation has been the enactment of forfeiture laws which allow law enforcement agencies to keep the lion’s share of the drug-related assets they seize. Another has been the federal law enforcement aid program, revised a decade ago to focus on assisting state anti-drug efforts. Collectively these financial incentives have left many law enforcement agencies dependent on drug law enforcement to meet their budgetary requirements, at the expense of alternative goals such as the investigation and prosecution of non-drug crimes, crime prevention strategies, and drug education and treatment.