Odds and Ends
There's a lot going on these days. Here are a few odds and ends that didn't make it into our newsletter or that supplement it:
Last year a SWAT raid in Columbia, Missouri in which videotape showed police killing two dogs generated extensive local outrage and went viral on the Internet. Keep Columbia Free recently taped an interview with the dog's owner, drug war victim Ryan March:
Keep Columbia Free also spotted a promotional video for Columbia's SWAT team, in which one of the officers from the deadly raid explains why he enjoys doing SWAT raids:
Asset forfeiture abuse is alive and well, as an investigation by Tennessee's News Channel 5 found:
Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic has commentary with links to more resources.
(Thanks to Eapen Thampy of Americans for Forfeiture Reform for the heads-up on both these stories.)
Sentencing is big news these days. In the wake of last year's partial reform to the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity, officials are now engaged in figuring out what relief if any they'll grant to those sentenced before the law changed. In the following video, Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and FAMM member Natasha Darrington testify at the US Sentencing Commission:
Stewart's and Darrington's written testimony is online here and here as well. More on this subject: As we reported earlier this month, US Attorney General Eric Holder backed retroactivity in his Sentencing Commission testimony, but only for some crack cocaine prisoners. The Washington Post criticized this position in an editorial Thursday, calling the old law "draconian." You can read some detailed analysis of the limitations of the administration's call for retroactivity here.
Meanwhile, even states like Mississippi are reconsidering their focus on prison and incarceration, a Time magazine article reports.
Eric Holder may only partially like retroactivity for crack prisoners, but he really likes The Wire. The creators of The Wire have a fairly demanding condition for doing a new season -- Holder has to end drug prohibition.
Speaking of The Wire, actress Sonja Sohn (played Kima Greggs) did a video interview with the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union team recently, uploaded last week. Also new from HCLU: US drug user and harm reduction activists, and presentations from the global Count the Costs campaign launch.
In preparation for the 40th anniversary of Nixon's declaration of the "war on drugs," the ACLU has launched a "War on Drugs" section in its "Blog of Rights." Also for the 40th, events around the country this June 17 by drug policy reformers, coordinated by the Drug Policy Alliance.
We'll be reporting on this, but in the meanwhile, a notable article from the LA Times about government reports finding that our billions spent on counternarcotics in Latin America haven't made a difference.
The Harm Reduction Coalition now has a weekly podcast. Some recent topics include video activism, syringe exchange in the Native America community, and drug policy through the looking glass of the culture wars.
A topic we are going to hear more about soon: Robert Gangi of the Urban Justice Center blasts the NYPD's wasteful and unjust targeting of African Americans and Latinos for low-level marijuana possession -- in a city where possession is decriminalized! -- on Alternet.