The twenty-first amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified eighty years ago today, repealing the eighteenth amendment, ending alcohol prohibition, and along with it the alcohol mobs it had bred. It’s time to do the same with drug prohibition, and along with it not only drug gangs but also the epidemic of incarceration in this country.
This is what eventually happens in a country with 5% of the world’s population yet 25% of the world’s prisoners, in a state that has 1 in 13 adults in the prison system (jail, prison, probation, or parole): prison violence the prisons can’t deal with, possibly including the mysterious violence at Valdosta State Prison. When we stop locking up so many people by ending the war on drugs, we’ll have plenty of money to adequately secure the few remaining real violent offenders.
Rhonda Cook wrote for the AJC Saturday, Gang violence in prison is increasingly deadly,
In a little more than 10 months, 12 inmates and a guard have been stabbed to death in Georgia prisons, a dramatic uptick in violence that law enforcement officials and human rights advocates agree points to increased gang activity.
“We cannot remember a time like this when we were getting this volume and severity of violence,” said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which monitors prison violence.
People who go into such prisons, if they aren’t already violent, are likely to be taught to be violent, and some just don’t come back out. Yet those that do get out can be bad for the rest of us:Continue reading
LEAP wrote 16 March 2012, Human Rights is a Foreign Concept in the UN’s “War on Drugs”
“Fundamentally, the three UN prohibitionist treaties are incompatible to human rights. We can have human rights or drug war, but not both,” said Maria Lucia Karam, a retired judge from Brazil and a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).Good point.
Richard Van Wickler, currently a jail superintendent in New Hampshire, adds, “I suppose it’s not shocking that within the context of a century-long bloody ‘war on drugs’ the idea of human rights is a foreign concept. Our global drug prohibition regime puts handcuffs on millions of people every year while even the harshest of prohibitionist countries say that drug abuse is a health issue. What other medical problems do we try to solve with imprisonment and an abandonment of human rights?”
We don’t lock up people for drinking. We only lock them up for endangering other people while drinking. And we tax alcohol sales and generate revenue for the state. Let’s do the same with drugs: legalize, regulate, and tax. That’s what we did with alcohol in 1933, and it’s time to do the same with other drugs.
The article illustrates what I learned over my 30-year career as a federal agent: Cracking down in one place doesn’t make drugs disappear, it only moves the trade elsewhere. This so-called “balloon effect,” combined with the insatiable demand for drugs across the globe, means that no level of law-enforcement skill or dedication can make a significant dent.And that will pop the incarceration bubble, as well, according to CCA’s own 2010 report to the SEC. -jsq
The only way to pop the proverbial balloon is to legalize and regulate the drug trade, which would eliminate the opportunity to make enormous black-market profits. It wasn’t easy for me to come to this revelation after dedicating so many years to enforcing drug laws, but it is common sense. Law-enforcement officers don’t have to chase gangsters selling booze from town to town because we ended the failed experiment of alcohol prohibition decades ago. It is time we do the same for other drugs.
Executive Board Member
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Question: There are Web sites and blogs that are adamantly opposed to your company and industry, and they provide negative information about you. Why?Hm, you mean like some of the material on this blog?
Answer: CCA and all corrections companies recognize the ongoing efforts of local, loosely formed grassroots groups and national, well-funded associations that jointly oppose the establishment of partnership prisons, many for self-serving reasons. Such groups go to great lengths to attack, criticize and misrepresent the entire industry. They make false allegations and often rely on hearsay and unreliable sources. Regrettably, these biased groups often resort to misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric to turn isolated incidents into broad generalizations about the corrections industry as a whole.Well-funded? Har! OK, not this blog. That plus we provide evidence, like Continue reading
We cannot duck this issue. I couldn’t duck it any more. I couldn’t sleep, if I wasn’t out advocating getting rid of the War on Drugs. You can’t get to end the War on Drugs that the whole bureaucratic institution of the United States of America has declared, unless you end prohibtion. They couldn’t do it with alcohol, and you can’t do it with drugs.Here’s the video: Continue reading
—Alice Huffman, President, California NAACP
“The biggest source of Ohio’s budget problem is not overspending or compenstation for public employees. It is a reduction in revenue.According to a recent poll, the people of Ohio think this is unfair and don’t believe the governor can fix the budget without raising taxes.
The tax changes also were weighted to high-income Ohioans. More than 40 percent of the income-tax cuts are going to the five percent of families with income of $135,000 or more a year. Meanwhile, the bottom three-fifths of Ohio families will receive just 13 percent of the total tax cut.
There are other reasons selling off prisons to private prison companies such as CCA is a bad idea.
Mark Niquette wrote for Bloomberg 29 June 2011, Kasich Tries to Avoid Arizona’s Mistakes in Ohio Prison Selloff:
Still, Democratic lawmakers, including Representative Matt Lundy of Elyria, question whether Ohio is making a wise move.
“The buyer wins and the taxpayers lose when we sell in the middle of a recession,” Lundy said during press conference last month, calling the move “a yard sale.”
Selling assets for “one-time” money is a mistake, Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy said. He opposed a plan by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal to sell three prisons to raise $90 million, a proposal the Legislature didn’t approve.
“A junkie can sell his TV or his stereo or his iPod and generate money for his next fix,” Kennedy, also a Republican, said in a telephone interview from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “But if he’s going to ever get well, he needs to face his addiction.”
An even better quote in that story comes from CCA’s own Steve Owen: Continue reading
Tony O’Neill wrote 14 June 2011 in The Fix, Why Growing Numbers of Police Are Slamming Drug Prohibition:
For decades, police were convinced that total prohibition was the only way to end America’s deadly drug wars. Now thousands of cops are not only having second thoughts but actually taking to the streets in protest.The War on Drugs has failed. Like alcohol prohibition before it, it breeds more violence. Law enforcement against it just makes it worse: Continue reading
“I was pro-prohibition: that’s what my training was about!” says Major Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), who previously served for 33 years with the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore police forces on the front line of America’s longest running war. “Even though I grew up in Baltimore and saw what was going on, we were taught and trained to believe that if we push hard enough, if we lock up the people involved, then this will eventually dissipate, or at least be reduced to a manageable level.” He gives a long, world-weary sigh. “Of course back then I had no clue…You just can’t tell somebody not to use and they’re gonna stop using! As long as there are people willing to buy, and as long as people don’t have employment, then you’re going to have an illicit drug trade. I saw that we made these arrests—we locked up dealers and users alike—and it might get quiet for a few days, or even a couple of weeks, but give it time and it all starts up again.”
“Prohibition didn’t work in the past, and it’s not working today”.
Franklin said LEAP now represents 50,000 members worldwide.
Few issues unite people across the political sprectrum like this one, from the NAACP to Grover Norquist.
We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County to lock up more people. We need fewer people in prison so we can afford to educate people.
Mr. Quarterman, what can we do, do we have to go to the state legislature to get a law passed to force these so-called public officials to answer questions and respond to the citizens?First of all, my compliments to anyone such as Leigh Touchton who has been doing politics around here longer than me for asking my opinion, because that indicates they are pretty good at it and are probably asking many people their opinions.
We need many people building a community doing many things. If I knew a simple answer that would change things magically overnight, I’d recommend it, but I don’t. I don’t even know if I know a long answer, but I’m pretty sure that any answer will require a community, because Continue reading