It had everything to do with the king of yellow journalism newspapers
not wanting competition for his yellow paper and the king of the new
plastics not wanting competition with them: competition from hemp.
As the methods for processing hemp into paper and plastics were becoming
more readily available and affordable, business leaders including William
Randolph Hearst and DuPont stood to lose fortunes. They did everything in
their power to have it outlawed. Luckily for Hearst, he was the owner
of a chain of newspapers. DuPont’s chief financial backer Andrew
Mellon (also the Secretary of the Treasury during President Hoover)
was responsible for appointing Harry J. Anslinger, in 1931 as the head
of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Anslinger and Hearst made up whatever propaganda they thought might
scare the public into supporting prohibiting hemp:
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CCA’s 2010 annual report states categorically that, “The demand for our
facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation
of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards
and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain
activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws — for
instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances
or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested,
convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for
correctional facilities to house them.”
CCA continues, “Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions
that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and
make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behaviour,
(while) sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some
offenders on probation who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly,
reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce
crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences
requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.”
Our Lord began his ministry by declaring “release to the
captives…” (Luke 4:18 NRSV), and he distinguished those who would
receive a blessing at the last judgment by saying, “I was in prison and
you visited me.” (Matthew 25:36b NRSV) Jesus also declared that one
cannot serve two masters and condemned the idolatry of mammon, or wealth.
Christians, therefore, must have a special concern for those who
are captive in any way, especially for those who are imprisoned,
and for the human conditions under which persons are incarcerated.
Individual Christians and churches must also oppose those policies and
practices which reflect greater allegiance to the profit motive than to
public safety and to restorative justice for offenders, crime victims,
and local communities.
Therefore, The United Methodist Church declares its opposition to
the privatization of prisons and jails and to profit making from the
punishment of human beings.
The statement has further practical explanation of why this opposition:
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LAST week authorities
captured two fugitives who had been on the lam
for three weeks after escaping from an Arizona prison. The convicts and
an accomplice are accused of murdering a holiday-making married couple
and stealing their camping trailer during their run from justice. This
gruesome incident has raised questions about the wisdom and efficacy of
private prisons, such as the one from which the Arizona convicts escaped.