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

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Lab looks at cloning drug-sniffing dogs

Location: 
Seoul
South Korea
Publication/Source: 
Reuters (UK)
URL: 
http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKSEO27379820070710

Kennedy Center: How Music Helped Me Escape from Prison

We are pleased to announce that the Prison Art Gallery, in conjunction with its parent organization the Prisons Foundation, will be presenting a three-hour show at the Kennedy Center. The show, entitled "How Music Helped Me Escape from Prison," consists of singers and musicians who put their interest in music to productive ends while behind bars. Everyone is invited to attend this free event. If you are an ex-prisoner musician or singer, or know of an ex-prisoner musician/singer, there is still time to be included in the show. Each performer will have a designated amount of time to perform songs of her or his choice with brief remarks about how these songs helped her/him rise above the prison experience. Organizations are especially welcomed to become a sponsor, which includes many special privileges and inclusion in the Kennedy Center program and in a video production of this historic event. For further information, please call 202-393-1511.
Date: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: 
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20566
United States

Hillary Clinton: Drug Policy Reformer?

This is a week old now, but I think Hillary Clinton's comments at the recent Democratic Presidential debate are worth discussing here:

MR. [DeWayne] WICKHAM: Okay. Okay, please stay with me on this one.

According to FBI data, blacks were roughly 29 percent of persons arrested in this country between 1996 and 2005. Whites were 70 percent of people arrested during this period. Yet at the end of this 10-year period, whites were 40 percent of those who were inmates in this country, and blacks were approximately 38 percent. What does this data suggest to you?

...

SEN. CLINTON: In order to tackle this problem, we have to do all of these things.

Number one, we do have to go after racial profiling. I’ve supported legislation to try to tackle that.

Number two, we have to go after mandatory minimums. You know, mandatory sentences for certain violent crimes may be appropriate, but it has been too widely used. And it is using now a discriminatory impact.

Three, we need diversion, like drug courts. Non-violent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons. They need to be diverted from our prison system. (Applause.)

We need to make sure that we do deal with the distinction between crack and powder cocaine. And ultimately we need an attorney general and a system of justice that truly does treat people equally, and that has not happened under this administration. (Applause.) [New York Times]

Of course, if Clinton truly believes that "non-violent offenders shouldn’t be serving hard time in our prisons," she'll have to look further than diversion programs and repealing mandatory minimums. Still, it's refreshing to hear a democratic front-runner sounding rehearsed on drug policy and criminal justice reform.

Frankly, the principle that non-violent drug offenders shouldn't be doing hard time stands in stark contrast to the drug war status quo. This is a powerful idea, and while Clinton attaches it to politically-safe policy proposals at this point, she sounds ready to have a realistic discussion about the impact of the drug war on communities of color.

Between Mike Gravel's aggressive anti-drug war stance and a near consensus among the other candidates about reforming sentencing practices and prioritizing public health programs, we're seeing rational ideas about drug policy creep slowly into mainstream politics.

I know quite a few pessimistic reformers, and far more that are just impatient. Everyday more people are arrested, jailed, killed, or otherwise stripped of their humanity by this great and unnecessary civil war, and it's depressing as hell to watch these things continue. But moments like this provide a barometer for our progress – slow though it may be – and I don't understand how anyone can look at the last 10 years of drug policy reform and say we're not moving forward.

I don't think our movement needs to change. I think it needs to grow, and indeed it is growing. When Hillary Clinton says "non-violent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons," she becomes part of this movement, whether she likes it or not.

(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

 

Location: 
United States

UNODC: Iran leads in war on drugs

Location: 
Iran
Publication/Source: 
Press TV (Iran)
URL: 
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=15252&sectionid=351020101

Blood on the streets as drug gang and police fight for control of Rio favelas

Location: 
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil
Publication/Source: 
The Guardian (UK)
URL: 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/brazil/story/0,,2114658,00.html

JPI Press Release: New numbers show “alarming growth” in incarceration; Justice Department survey shows biggest increase since 2000

For Immediate Release: June 27, 2007 – 12:00 EST Contact: Laura Jones, Phone: 202-558-7974, ext. 307 or Cell: 202-425-4659 or Jason Ziedenberg, Cell: 510-332-6503 New numbers show “alarming growth” in incarceration; Justice Department survey shows biggest increase since 2000 California responsible 1 out of 5 new people in prison last year WASHINGTON – After six years of slowing growth prison and jail populations, new statistics due out Wednesday from the Justice Department show an alarming increase in incarceration across the U.S. According to Prisoners and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006, a new survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics embargoed for release noon Wednesday, June 27 the midyear accounting for prison and jail growth found that “in both absolute numbers and percent change, the increase was the largest since midyear 2000.” The new survey showed that about 6 out of 10 people in prison and jail were African American or Latino, and that nearly 5 percent of African American men were in prison or jail. The new survey showed that one out of every five new people added to prison in the United States were in California. “Once again, communities of color are paying for our troubled criminal justice policies,” said Jason Ziedenberg, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute. “The population increase in the already overburdened prison system indicates an alarming growth that should not go unchecked. Billions of public safety dollars are absorbed by prison expansion and limits the nation’s ability to focus on more effective strategies to promote public safety.” When considering the growth, JPI points out that: There is little relationship between prison growth and change in violent crime: Coming just weeks after the Justice Department released its preliminary crime statistics for 2006, regional imbalance in the growth of prison underscore how little relationship there is between crime and the use of incarceration. The two regions that experienced the least change in prison populations (the Northeast, +1.7 percent increase, and the South, +1.2 percent) either experienced a decline in violent crime, or marginal change in violent crime.[1] By contrast, the West saw the biggest increase in violent crime of any region (+2.8 percent), and the biggest increase in the use of incarceration (5.2 percent). The Midwestern region also saw an increase in violent crime (+2.1), and prison growth (+3.0 percent). Some states have reduced prison populations and closed prisons, and others have enacted billion dollar expansion plans. Some states and jurisdictions (8 out of 51) saw no growth, or declining prison populations. Maryland, where prison populations have been falling for the last 4 years, recently closed a prison, potentially saving the state tens of millions of dollars. By contrast, 20 percent of new prisoners added last year were in California, where numerous proposals to reduce prison sentences, reform parole, and provide more resources to drug-involved people in the criminal justice system failed to be enacted. California legislations recently voted for multi-billion dollar prison expansion plan. ### The Justice Policy Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank dedicated to ending society’s reliance on incarceration and promoting effective and just solutions to social problems. See www.justicepolicy.org.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

DPA Press Release: Justice Department Report Finds Largest Increase in Prison and Jail Inmate Populations Since 2000; Prison Growth Despite Public Sentiment for Alternatives to Incarceration

For Immediate Release: June 27, 2007 For More Info: Tony Newman, T: (646) 335-5384 Justice Department Report Finds Largest Increase in Prison and Jail Inmate Populations Since Midyear 2000 2.24 Million Behind Bars, Giving the United States the Shameful Title of World’s Number One Incarcerator Prison Growth Persists Despite Growing Public Sentiment for Alternatives to Incarceration; One in Four Locked Up for Drug Law Violations The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports today that the number of people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails jumped by 62,037 in the year ending June 30, 2006. That jump represents the largest increase since 2000. There are now 2.24 million people behind bars in this country. The United States continues to rank first among all nations in both total prison/jail population and per capita incarceration rates – with about 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. The failed drug war policies of 30-plus years are a major contributor to America’s prison population explosion. Approximately 50,000 people were incarcerated for drug law violations in 1980. The total is now roughly 500,000. (This number does not include hundreds of thousands of parolees and probationers who are incarcerated for technical violations such as “dirty urines,” nor does it include non-drug offenses committed under the influence of drugs, or to support a drug habit, or crimes of violence committed by drug sellers.) “Two powerful forces are at play today,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “On the one hand, public opinion strongly supports alternatives to incarceration for non-violent, and especially low-level, drug law violators – and state legislatures around the country are beginning to follow suit. On the other hand, the prison industrial complex has become a powerful force in American society, able to make the most of the political inertia that sustains knee-jerk lock-‘em-up policies.” The Drug Policy Alliance has played a pivotal role in reforming drug sentencing laws around the country, including Proposition 36 in California, reform of the Rockefeller drug laws in New York, and equalization of crack and powder cocaine penalties in Connecticut.
Location: 
United States

Marijuana: No More Automatic Arrest for Possession in Texas

As of September 1, people caught with up to a quarter-pound of marijuana in Texas will no longer automatically be arrested. Under HB 2391, a bill passed by the legislature and signed into law June 15 by Gov. Rick Perry (R), police will have the option of issuing a summons to appear for misdemeanor pot possession, as well as a number of other small-time offenses.

The measure was pushed by conservative legislators as a cost-cutting measure. "We want to get tough on crime, but we also want to get smart on crime," said state Rep. Jerry Madden (R), the bill's author. "Let's not spend a lot of taxpayers' money putting people in jail who don't need to be there," Madden told Fort Worth Star-Telegraph columnist Bud Kennedy last Saturday. "Let's give local police more discretion."

Possession of marijuana remains a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. But now, instead of using up valuable police time and jail space with marijuana and other misdemeanor offenders, police will have the discretion of just ordering them to show up before a magistrate within 48 hours. If they don't show, the magistrate can issue an arrest warrant.

Other offenses for which police can now issue summonses include petty theft, graffiti, and driving without a license.

"The idea was to free up more county jail space and law officers' time for violent offenders and sex offenders," said Marc Levin of the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative organization that lobbied for House Bill 2391. "We looked at how to save counties money. We always came back to the same answer: Take the low-level offenders out of the county jail," he told Kennedy.

Leave it to Texas to wise up about criminal justices priorities, even if just a bit. And it wasn't bleeding hearts, but bleating wallets that did it.

Incarceration: Jail and Prison Population at All-Time High (Again) -- Last Year Saw Biggest Increase Since 2000

The number of people behind bars in the United States reached a new all-time high last year, with some 2.24 million people in jail or prison at mid-year. The imprisoned population jumped by 62,000 people or 2.8%, the largest increase since 2000.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/signalhilljail.jpg
Signal Hill jail, southern Los Angeles County, California
The figures come from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) annual report on mid-year imprisonment numbers. One of every 133 Americans was behind bars on June 30, 2006, BJS reported.

America's title as the world's number one jailer -- with 5% of the global population, the US has 25% of the prisoners -- once again remains unchallenged, leaving contenders like Russia and China in the dust. Roughly 500,000 of the more than 2.2 million people imprisoned in the US are doing time for drug offenses, a number that goes even higher when the number of people imprisoned as parole or probation violators for using drugs is factored in.

The new numbers elicited a blast at the special interests who benefit from mass incarceration by Ethan Nadelmann, head of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Two powerful forces are at play today," said Nadelmann. "On the one hand, public opinion strongly supports alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent, and especially low-level, drug law violators – and state legislatures around the country are beginning to follow suit. On the other hand, the prison industrial complex has become a powerful force in American society, able to make the most of the political inertia that sustains knee-jerk lock-'em-up policies."

If the BJS figures are any indicator, lock-'em-up policies are still in vogue. Forty-two states and the federal system reported an increase in prison populations last year, with only eight reporting declines. More than 1.5 million people are now in state or federal prison, with an additional 700,000 in jail.

Most of the growth in the imprisoned population came in the state and federal prison systems, with the jail population increasing at a rate of 2.5%, the lowest increase since 2001. The federal prison population grew by 3.6% to 191,000 June 30, a figure that had increased to 199,000 this week. Nearly 55% of all federal prisoners are drug offenders.

In state prisons, the increase was largely due to a rise in prison admissions, up 17% since 2000. About one-quarter of state prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

Racial minorities continue to take the brunt of both the drug war and the resort to mass incarceration in general. Black men comprised 37% of the imprisoned population, being locked up at a rate (4.8%) more than twice that of Hispanic males (1.9%) and nearly seven times that of white males (0.7%). Among black men between ages 25 and 34, a whopping 11% were behind bars.

The Latest Imprisonment Numbers Are Out; No Surprises

The Bureau of Justice Statistics will tomorrow officially release its latest annual report on the number of prisoners in America. It's pretty much the same old story, one I'm sick of writing every year, and it has a title like this: "Number of Prisoners in America At All-Time High (Again)" According to a BJS press release today (which apparently will not appear on their web site until tomorrow):
LARGEST INCREASE IN PRISON AND JAIL INMATE POPULATIONS SINCE MIDYEAR 2000 More Than 2.24 Million Incarcerated as of June 30, 2006 WASHINGTON -- During the 12 months that ended June 30, 2006, the nation's prison and jail populations increased by 62,037 inmates (up 2.8 percent), to total 2,245,189 inmates, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported today. State and federal inmates accounted for 70 percent of the increase. At midyear 2006, two-thirds of the nation.s incarcerated population was in custody in a state or federal prison (1,479,179), and the other one-third was held in local jails (766,010). The number of prisoners under the legal jurisdiction of state or federal correctional authorities -- some of whom were held in local jails -- increased by 42,942 prisoners (2.8 percent) during the 12 months ending June 30, 2006, to reach 1,556,518 prisoners. In absolute number and percentage change, the increase in prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction was the largest since the 12 months ending on June 30, 2000. The growth in state prisoners was due largely to a rise in prison admissions, up 17.2 percent between 2000 and 2005. During the same period, releases from state prisons increased at a slower rate, up 15.5 percent. New court commitments totaled 421,426 during 2005, a 20.3 percent increase since 2000, and parole violators returned to prison totaled 232,229, up 14.1 percent. Forty-two states and the federal system reported an increase in their prison populations during the 12 months ending June 30, 2006. Idaho had the largest percentage increase (up 13.7 percent), followed by Alaska (up 9.4 percent) and Vermont (up 8.3 percent). Eight states reported declines in their prison populations, led by Missouri (down 2.9 percent), Louisiana and Maine (both down 1.8 percent). The number of federal prisoners increased by 3.6 percent to reach 191,080 prisoners. At midyear 2006 the federal system had jurisdiction over more prisoners than did any single state, including California and Texas, which had jurisdiction over 175,115 and 172,889 prisoners, respectively. The number of local jail inmates increased by 2.5 percent during the year, the smallest annual percent change since 2001. Since 2000, the number of unconvicted inmates held in local jails has been increasing. As of June 30, 2006, 62 percent of inmates held in local jails were awaiting court action on their current charge, up from 56 percent in 2000.
There's more to the press release, but the above is the gist of it. This annual report does not, if I recall correctly, include a breakdown by offense, which means I have to hunt through other BJS reports to come up with a likely number of drug offenders behind bars. I've been saying "around a half million" for the past three or four years. Maybe now we'll be able to say "more than half a million." But you'll have to wait until Friday, when my story on this comes out. For those who can't wait to read the BJS report, it will be available here tomorrow morning. In the meantime, ain't it great to live in the land of the free?
Location: 
United States

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