Incarceration, Asset Forfeiture, Arrests, Informants, Police Raids, Search and Seizure

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Sensible Colorado: Know Your Rights Training

Can the police search my house? What should I do if pulled over? Are the police allowed to lie? Answer these questions and more at two upcoming, free Know Your Rights trainings. Sensible Colorado is joining forces with national experts from the Midnight Special Law Collective to present an interactive role-playing presentation that teaches citizens how to survive common police encounters. For further details please call 720-890-4247. This event was made possible by the hard working student activists from the CSU and CU chapters of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
Date: 
Wed, 04/04/2007 - 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: 
201 Hellems Hall
Boulder, CO
United States

Blair’s policy review extends police powers

Location: 
London
United Kingdom
Publication/Source: 
Gulf Times Newspaper (Qatar)
URL: 
http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=140485&version=1&template_id=38&parent_id=20

Judge wants medical marijuana user to get pot in jail

Location: 
Canada
Publication/Source: 
CBC News (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2007/03/27/marijuana-medical.html

NYCTJ: Action Plans for April Prison Phone Changes

[Courtesy of Lauren Melodia, Center for Constitutional Rights] Hello, April 1, 2007 is fast approaching, and we need to keep the public pressure strong and also better educate families and their loved ones inside about what changes to expect and how to get involved in the NYCTJ. I’m writing today to let you know what plans we made on the monthly NYCTJ Family Member Conference call last night. Please let me know if you are interested in participating in our planned outreach and actions in NYC the weekend of April 1, 2007 or if you’d like to plan your own event/outreach in your area. We will send you materials, if you make a commitment to SPREAD THE WORD. On the call last night, many mentioned that they and their loved ones on the inside are incredibly confused by what Spitzer’s decision ACTUALLY MEANS and that there are a lot of rumors spreading. We made some plans to do create better educational tools and do some coordinated outreach the weekend of April 1 and to do some public actions that may encourage media attention. Here’s the idea: We will be creating a postcard in English and Spanish that explains the facts of what will change on April 1 (what the new rates will be, etc.), what demands we still have for the contract to work better for families, and how people can join the NYCTJ and take action. In NYC, we will do bus outreach at as many of the streets where families take buses to upstate facilities as possible on the evenings of FRIDAY, March 30th and SATURDAY, March 31st. We need your help with this! The more folks we have, the more stops we can cover! Right now the plan is Columbus Circle, but we’d like to expand to include 34th Street area, downtown Brooklyn and Bronx and Queens as possible. During these outreach efforts, we will distribute the postcards and answer questions. We will also have a large poster board which will list our remaining demands and ask people to sign this, write in additional demands or tell their story. We will deliver this poster to Spitzer’s office in NYC on Monday, April 2nd in an effort to nicely remind him that we need him to keep working on this issue. Individuals on the call last night expressed interest in doing outreach in Ithaca and Albany that weekend (or that Monday). If you live in either of those regions and would like to participate, please let me know and I will put you in touch with those folks. Similarly, we are looking to MASS PRODUCE this postcard to distribute state-wide. If you are part of a group or would like to make plans to do outreach in your community during that weekend or at your next group meeting, etc., please let me know and I will send you a package of postcards. Please let me know how many you’d like me to send. If you would like to do a similar action with a GIANT list of demands to send/deliver to Spitzer, let me know and we’ll coordinate, as well. It would be great to send/deliver several large lists of demands to Gov. Spitzer! Also, think about incorporating the letter writing campaign I sent out yesterday into your outreach efforts. April 2, 2007 will be a national call-in day (target yet to be decided) that you can participate in from anywhere. We will be submitting articles to several newsletters that folks on the inside have access to, to clarify what the changes mean for them and their families. Here’s what we need from YOU: Some of you have already sent me questions about the April changes (i.e. what will the new rate be? Will the surcharge price go down? Why 50% reduction and not 57.5%), which we are working to get answers for. If you have additional questions or are confused in any other ways, let me know. I’m not sure we can get all the answers right now, but we’ll see what we can get. If you have heard certain rumors, please alert me to those, as well, so we can dispel them in the postcard. Let me know if you’re interested in doing outreach with the postcards in your area/community. We will send you postcards and a GIANT list of demands if you will use them. We hope to have postcards printed and ready to send out on Monday morning. Consider incorporating the letter writing campaign to Nozzolio into your street outreach, tabling or presentation. If you live in the NYC area and would like to distribute postcards to your group/community, come to the next NYCTJ meeting NEXT TUESDAY at 6pm (666 Broadway, 6th Floor). We will have postcards and the letter writing campaign in bulk at the meeting and you can pick them up at the meeting! RSVP with me, so we are sure to have enough food for everyone! We will send out final plans for April 1, 2007 in the coming weeks, so keep watch for them! In Struggle, Lauren Melodia
Location: 
NY
United States

Op-Ed: Prison privatization flunks a test

Location: 
VA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Virginian-Pilot (VA)
URL: 
http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=121785&ran=94320

Take Action for Telephone Justice!

*************************************************************** 1. TAKE ACTION - Tell Sen. Nozzolio to move the Family Connections bill out of Committee 2. GET INVOLVED - 5 things you can do to end the contract 3. CONTRACT UPDATE - What to expect on April 1, 2007 4. UPCOMING - NYC Board of Correction Public Hearing on April 17, 2007 *************************************************************** TAKE ACTION - Tell Sen. Nozzolio to move the Family Connections bill out of Committee We've come close the past two years in passing the Family Connections bill, but this is the year we're going to make it happen. Senator Nozzolio must follow the leadership of Governor Spitzer and the New York State Assembly and move the Family Connections bill (S.705) out of Committee immediately. Write him today: http://hq.demaction.org/dia/organizations/ccr/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=... We need EVERYONE to participate in this action. If you are a part of a group, community or organization in the NYC area - a tenants' association, a church, a service organization - NYCTJ wants to come to your next meeting! Please contact Lauren Melodia at lmelodia@ccr-ny.org or 212.614.6481 so that your community can participate in this action! GET INVOLVED - 5 things you can do to end the contract 1. SPREAD THE WORD. Distribute information about our letter writing campaign to Senator Nozzolio far and wide! Forward this email to your friends and family. Pass out information about NYCTJ at your bodega, your workplace, your apartment building, your school, your church. We will be planning more actions in the next couple of months, and we'll need you to keep reaching out in your own way. If you would like us to send you a packet of brochures, fact sheets and letter actions or make a presentation in your community, please contact Lauren Melodia at lmelodia@ccr-ny.org or 212.614.6481. 2. TELL YOUR STORY. If you have been affected by the prison telephone contract, the world needs to know! Write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper, post your story on blogs and websites, create public artwork and poetry. Borrow the giant telephone puppet from our office and do some street theater! Get contact info for community papers in your area at: http://hq.demaction.org/dia/organizations/ccr/pickMedia.jsp?letter_KEY=1... 3. COME TO A NYCTJ PHONEBANKING NIGHT. Many NYCTJ members do not have email access, and we need to call them in the next couple of weeks to update them about the contract, how they can take action, and notify them about the upcoming NYC Board of Correction public hearing (see below). On Monday, April 9th, 2007 and Monday, April 16th, 2007 from 4:00pm - 8:00pm, we will be making calls to our members. Help us reach out and bring people in. Come to our office for phonebanking days, even if only for an hour. 4. VOLUNTEER WITH NYCTJ. There is a lot of research we need to do in the coming months, to convince Spitzer to create a new contract that works best for families. Additionally, we need to find better ways to advise individuals who are experiencing problems with MCI/Verizon on a daily basis. We always have mailings to do, educational materials to update and events to plan. Volunteer an hour or two to the NYCTJ at our office or from home or work. 5. DON'T GIVE UP. We know that there are still a lot of problems on a daily basis with the ways NYSDOCS and MCI/Verizon treat collect call consumers. It is exhausting and frustrating to be materially and emotionally exploited by this contract and the companies and NYSDOCS who manage it. This is why we know that a 50% reduction in rates on April 1, 2007 - as great as it is - is not enough. We are all here to support one another, and there is a lot of power on this list! CONTRACT UPDATE - What to expect on April 1, 2007 Spitzer's decision to end the state commission provision of the contract will take effect on April 1, 2007. But what does that mean? Here is what we know as of now: Because there are so many problems with the contract, Spitzer's administration has decided to give MCI/Verizon a one-year extension but with the 50% rate reduction. He and his staff are currently researching prison telephone contracts, and they will draft a new Request for Proposal in late summer 2007 for a completely new contract to go into effect in 2008. We are moving forward to plan meetings with his key staff, and we will need you to participate in telling Spitzer what you need from a prison telephone contract. Please stay tuned for a letter writing campaign to Spitzer in the coming weeks! UPCOMING - NYC Board of Correction Public Hearing: April 17, 2007 On Tuesday, April 17, 2007, NYC Board of Correction, the department that oversees all NYC jails, will be holding a public hearing to discuss changes to its Minimum Standards. These standards set the basic rules for humane treatment of prisoners' in the NYC jail system, and the proposed standards will have a negative impact on the quality of life for people living inside these facilities if we do not stop them. If passed, NYC's jails would be able to listen in on people's phone calls without a warrant, read prisoners' mail without a court order, reduce living space behind bars, and use 23-hour lock-ins more widely, force pre-trial detainees to wear jail uniforms, increase surveillance and censorship of letters and publications, and reduce spanish speaking staff requirements. We need to pack the public hearing and collectively share our stories about the NYC jail system. Testify at the hearing on Tuesday, April 2007 at 9:30am at the City Planning Commission hearing room at 22 Reade Street, 1st Floor in Manhattan.
Location: 
NY
United States

Clubbers hold hands up as drugs detected

Location: 
United Kingdom
Publication/Source: 
The Evening Telegraph (UK)
URL: 
http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleID=2179159&SectionID=845

Warrantless drug search unconstitutional, Supreme Court says

Location: 
WY
United States
Publication/Source: 
Casper Star Tribune
URL: 
http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2007/03/26/news/wyoming/082ecf511acdaddd872572a90026929c.txt

Feature: Prison Rape and the War on Drugs

Sexual assaults on prisoners is an endemic problem in America, not an isolated one, the war on drugs is making the problem worse, and drug war prisoners are among those most likely to be victimized, according to a report released Thursday. The report, "Stories from Inside: Prisoner Rape and the War on Drugs," by the human rights group Stop Prisoner Rape, calls prisoner rape "a human rights crisis of appalling magnitude."

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/spr-report-cover.gif
SPR report cover
Hard numbers are hard to come up with for a crime in which humiliation, stigma, the fear of retaliation -- and perhaps officials' fear of embarrassment or lawsuits -- inhibits reporting, but according to preliminary reports from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which is setting up a nationwide, anonymous reporting system, 4% of prisoners reported being sexually assaulted within the last year. According to survey research cited in the report, as many as 20% of male prisoners and 25% of female prisoners have been victims of sexual assault in jail or prison. With a jail and prison population now nearing 2.3 million, the number of victims could be in the hundreds of thousands.

For male prisoners, the most common pattern is sexual assault by other male prisoners. For female prisoners, it is most often sexual assault by guards or other prison staff.

Even the reported numbers may be low, according to some experts. Dr. Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist specializing in mental health in prison and especially the mental health of prisoners who have been sexually assaulted, told Drug War Chronicle the numbers may be much higher.

"My estimate is that it is much more widespread than the statistics show," said Kupers, who has published frequently on prison rape and testified as an expert witness on behalf of prison rape victims. "I think the 20% figure is low for a couple of reasons. First, people don't report because they're afraid of the stigma. Men feel it is unmanly and won't admit it. There is also the fear of retaliation in prison, whether from staff or other prisoners. Secondly, a lot of sexual activity is not defined as rape by the participants. A young and fair male enters prison and is told by an older prisoner 'I'm going to have sex with you, and if you agree I won't beat you up and I'll protect you from other prisoners.' The young man agrees and becomes a 'willing' partner, but it's rape, it's coerced out of fear. These guys might say they're not being raped, but they are."

What happened to Chance Martin in 1973 was not pretty, but not unusual. The university-bound Indiana youth was arrested at a hotel party after another guest dropped a piece of hashish in the lobby and thrown into the Lake County Jail in Crown Point. There, he was attacked and sexually assaulted by six other inmates in an unmonitored group cell.

"'General pop' was a large cage holding about 40 men," he recounted in the report. "It was the dead of the night when I got there. My cellmates were all awaiting trial or serving county sentences. One was a blond man with a mustache whose face was beaten to a pulp -- and who kept strictly to himself. Finding me sitting hopelessly on my bunk, a trustee insisted that I join a card game to 'cheer me up.' The game only lasted three hands. It then became a demand for sex. Threats were made pointing out the example of the cellie with the battered face.

"Driving their point home, four other trustees jammed my ribs with broomsticks and mop handles. I tried to call for help. Repeatedly I had my breath beat from my lungs. Curled up on the floor, my arms protected my head. Dark memories recall being dragged to a bunk obscured by army blankets at the farthest end of the cell from the turnkey's office. One guy said, 'Now you have to give me head.' I had never even heard the term before. The scariest part was I lacked the first clue what was going to go down until it already happened. I'm glad that there were only six guys. Six is only the best of my recollection. It might have been more. I don't recall their faces, except a couple. I didn't even see most of their faces.

"There was near-zero supervision in that jail. No guard had line of sight into that cell. The guards' office was at the end of a hallway at the cellblock's end, and their TV was blaring 24/7."

From jail, Martin enlisted in the armed forces and went to Vietnam as part of a plea bargain to avoid any further time behind bars. There, he began drinking heavily and using drugs, a pattern he kept up back in the States. He suffered emotional problems and blew through three marriages. Now, he's a social justice activist in San Francisco who works in a law office by day and manages at low-income high-rise at night.

"It's been a long time and I don't get nightmares about it anymore, but I can still get panicky and I tend to fall into not trusting people," Martin told Drug War Chronicle. "I'm suspicious of hidden agendas when people are being nice. I can't form concrete interpersonal relationships. I'm not a complete basket case, but it's something that's always there," he said.

While Martin confided in friends about his rape, he didn't come out publicly until he found himself trying to explain to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter interviewing him about his homeless activism why he had ended up joining the military during Vietnam. "One of the Stop Prisoner Rape people read that and contacted me, and before you know it, I'm a survivor advocate," he laughed. "You try to create something good even out of a negative experience. This is going on every day, and I'm doing anything I can do to stop it from happening to the next person."

As a San Francisco resident, Martin is now a card-carrying medical marijuana user. "I knew when I got here I had been waiting my whole life for a place like this," he said. "I wasn't a criminal when I was smoking hash in high school and I'm not a criminal now. But for the sake of the drug war, I had my most basic human rights stripped away and was subjected to a brutal assault that left me with issues that lasted for years."

New York City resident Michael Piper wasn't raped, but was violently attacked fending off a failed attempt in jail in Tempe, Arizona, in 1974, after he was arrested for possession of a roach. The attack left him with serious head injuries, and a commitment to work for change. "My life has been challenging in many ways, and that attack was part of experiencing life for what it is," he told the Chronicle. "It's part of my motivation for speaking out. But I don't like the victim role; I don't play that," he said. "That attack increased my resilience."

It also hardened his attitude about the drug war. "Drug use is a personal choice," he said, extolling the virtues of various plants. "When we recognize we are not victims of drugs and they are not something we have to be protected from, then we can alter our environment and take responsibility for the way we live. It's a violation of natural law when a government says I can't interact with a seed that's a gift from the Creator."

Marilyn Shirley was sent to federal prison in 1998 on methamphetamine charges after a customer of her and her husband's auto repair business attempted to pay his bill with the drug. She was raped by a prison guard. In a rare turn of events, she was able to see him jailed after she kept the sweat pants she was wearing hidden in her cell for seven months.

"I didn't tell anyone at the prison except my welding boss, and I swore her to secrecy," Shirley told the Chronicle. "I didn't feel like I could trust any of them. But five minutes after I was released, I walked into the prison camp administration office and said 'Am I free?' and the lady said 'yes' and I handed her the sweat pants with his DNA on them. They called the FBI immediately and now he's doing 12 years himself."

Even with her tormentor now behind bars, it's not easy for Shirley. "I get severe panic attacks, I have to see two psychiatrists, I'm on five different kinds of medication," she said.

As with Martin and Piper, Shirley's experience has led her to speak out. "You can't just keep it bottled up inside you; it'll kill you," she said. "I spoke out because I feel like it might give other people confidence if I did. Something has to change. It's so easy to end up in prison; nowadays, it doesn't hardly take anything. It could be your wife, your kids, your mother."

"We hear stories like these from survivors from across the country on a daily basis," said Lovisa Stannow, co-executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape. "It's the most widespread and neglected human rights crisis in the country, and it's alarming on many levels," she told the Chronicle. "Prison rape is a form of torture, a human rights violation. No one should have to endure that as part of their sentence. It's also well-known that prisoners who are sexually abused suffer for years or decades from that trauma. We talk to people all the time who years later are still unable to function."

"They suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," said Dr. Kupers. "There is an unofficial term we use, rape response syndrome. The effects of rape or sex abuse can last a life-time and be very serious and cause a lot of grief. Like in the Vietnam War, there is a lot of drinking and pot smoking, and we don't know how much of it is self-medicating. There are a lot of people affected who don't realize it," he said.

It is worse in prison, he said. "One of the things that makes it so severe for prisoners is the captivity. If you are raped, you try to do things to make yourself safe, you move away or you change houses, but when you're in prison, you can't do that. At worst, you are held in sexual captivity, where you are made into another prisoner's woman or punk, a repetitive hell of sexual abuse."

"We chose to highlight the role of the drug war in this because we felt the link hadn't been made," said Stop Prisoner Rape's Stannow. "Because of the war on drugs, we have seen a very dramatic swelling of the prison population, with half a million incarcerated on drug charges and hundreds of thousands more for drug-related offenses. The prisons are overcrowded, and that sets the stage for sexual violence. And a lot of nonviolent drug offenders fit the profile of inmates targeted for sexual violence -- young, nonviolent, inexperienced when it comes to prison life -- and are very much in danger."

It doesn't have to be that way. Changes can and should be made both in institutional policies within the prisons and in the US approach to drug policy in general, said Stannow.

"Sexual violence in prison is largely a management problem. In a well-run prison, you don't have rampant sexual violence," she pointed out. "One thing that needs to be done immediately is to make sure our prisons and jails are safe, so inmates don't get assaulted. Corrections officials can do this with proper classification and housing, and by taking immediate action when someone has been assaulted. They can also ensure that abused inmates receive counseling and access to medical care. There is a lot that can be done at the institutional level," she said.

Changing policies inside prisons is critical, Stannow argued. "We receive hundreds of letters a year from survivors, and one in four comes from Texas," she said. "On the other hand, some places, like the San Francisco County Jail, have very good policies in place to address prisoner rape and sexual violence. There are vast differences between prisons and prison systems across the country, and we are concerned about states where we receive a very large number of complaints," she said.

"But we also need to reduce the incarceration rate for people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses," Stannow continued. "We need to take treatment and diversion programs seriously and not automatically send everyone to prison."

It's Been an 'All Out War' on Pot Smokers for 35 Years

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
AlterNet (CA)
URL: 
http://www.alternet.org/rights/49597/

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