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

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LAPD skid row searches found unconstitutional

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-downtown25apr25,0,2444457.story?coll=la-home-local

Court rulings uphold important anti-drug tool, lawyer says

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Vancouver Sun (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=936ef5f3-c84d-4fd7-9792-514e17f2619e

Search and Seizure: Supreme Court Takes Up Rights of Vehicle Passengers

When police pull over the driver of a vehicle, are they also "seizing" the vehicle's passengers? That's the question the US Supreme Court pondered Monday as it heard oral arguments (transcript here) in the case of a California man arrested on methamphetamine charges after the vehicle in which he was riding was pulled over. Questions from the justices suggested they would not feel free to leave if they were passengers in a vehicle pulled over by police, and if that sentiment holds, the court could rule that passengers have the right to make Fourth Amendment challenges to any evidence seized and used against them.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/supremecourt1.jpg
US Supreme Court
The case pits the state of California against Bruce Brendlin, a former convict wanted for parole violation. Brendlin was a passenger in a car pulled over ostensibly to inspect possibly expired inspection tags. The officer recognized Brendlin, arrested him, searched the car, found methamphetamine supplies, and added a drug offense to the charges.

Brendlin eventually pleaded guilty, but appealed on the ground that the evidence should have been suppressed because the traffic stop was later found to be bogus. (The officer already knew the tags were good because he had stopped the car earlier that same day). The California Supreme Court rejected Brendlin's appeal, holding that only the driver had been "seized" during the traffic stop -- not Brendlin -- and thus Brendlin had no basis for challenging an illegal search.

Brendlin's attorney, Elizabeth Campbell, told the court that when a police officer pulls over a vehicle, "he seizes not only the driver of the car but also the car and every person and everything in that car."

California Deputy Attorney General Clifford Zall argued that it is only the driver, not the passenger, who is "seized" because it is the driver who submits to the officer's authority. That caused some skepticism among the justices, a majority of whom indicated through their comments that they believe passengers as well as the driver are "seized." That is also the position of the courts in most states.

While Brendlin appears likely to prevail on this issue, he is still likely to be imprisoned as a parole violator. Still, what would likely be a symbolic victory for Brendlin could become a substantive victory for the rest of us.

Spending on Prisons on Pace to Outstrip Education Outlays

Location: 
OR
United States
Publication/Source: 
Join Together/The Oregonian
URL: 
http://www.jointogether.org/news/headlines/inthenews/2007/or-spending-on-prisons-on.html

Important Legal Victory Won By Prisons Foundation

[Courtesy of the Prisons Foundation] Last fall, the Prisons Foundation attempted to do outreach work and raise funds on the streets of Washington by showing and selling prison art and other items related to our work. We were stopped by the police who said we needed a vendor's license to continue. We contested this and spoke to the local ACLU who agreed to handle the matter. The ACLU contacted the law firm of Reed Smith who provided two outstanding attorneys to represent us, Michael Raibman and Cassia M. McCamon. This week the city issued a notice giving us permission to do what we set out to do, specifying that no permit is required (permits are expensive and difficult to obtain). The city acknowledged that we are protected in our work by the First Amendment and city statute. Please take the time to read the city's notice at the end of this email, since it is a victory for all of us. Also, if you are in downtown Washington on Tuesday morning (and any day thereafter, weather permitting), please stop by our street exhibit at the corner of K Street and Connecticut Ave. (Washington's busiest intersection). Not only will we have for display and sale many items from our Prison Art Gallery (just two blocks away), but we will have free literature from the more than 25 justice advocacy organizations that participated in our Taste of Justice Fair last September. Mark your calendar for the next Justice Sunday on April 29 at 2pm for live music (including a song about the Attica massacre from Don Zientara's new CD, which he will perform) and featured speaker Phillip Fornaci, director of D.C. Prisoners' Project of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. Mr. Fornaci will answer your questions about the rights of DC prisoners and what is being done by him and his top-notch legal team to fully secure those rights. You won't want to miss this event if you have a loved one in jail or prison, or care about the men and women there. VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES We are seeking volunteers in Washington, DC who are available to help respond to prisoner letters, prepare prison art for display, and greet visitors at the Prison Art Gallery. We have volunteer opportunities on Thursday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Have fun while making a difference in the lives of incarcerated men and women across America. Please call Carolyn 202-544-3819. NOTICE from the Metropolitan Police Department and the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Re: The Prisons Foundation & First Amendment Activities To Whom It May Concern: The purpose of this notice is to inform Members of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Vending Enforcement Unit of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs of the government of the District of Columbia that Mr. Dennis Sobin, when engaged in the specific activities described below, is engaging in protected First Amendment activities on the sidewalks of the District of Columbia pursuant to provisions of the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act of 2004, D.C. Law 15-352, effective April 13, 2005 (D.C. Official Code § 5-331.01, et seq. (2001)) (the “Act”). As a result, no enforcement action should be taken against him, or against any other representatives of the Prisons Foundation, while engaged in these protected activities for “Selling Goods without a Vendor’s License” pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 47-2834, 24 DCMR §502. The Prisons Foundation is a nonprofit corporation organized for educational and charitable purposes that advocates the reform of prisons, with a focus on allowing prisoners to participate in the arts. For purposes of this notice, the protected activities include the distribution and/or sale of a newsletter or other printed materials related to the dissemination of the Prison Foundation’s message, the discussion of prison reform with passers-by, and the display or sale of items related to the organization’s message on a table that does not obstruct the safety and free passage of pedestrians, including books relating to prison reform, prisoner music CDs and prints of artwork by prisoners. The protection afforded by this notice is intended to be coextensive with the protection afforded to participants in First Amendment assemblies under the Act and First Amendment activities generally under the Constitution, including any subsequent modifications or amendments to the Act or its implementing regulations that become effective after the date of this notice. Should any Members of the Metropolitan Police Department or Vending Enforcement Unit of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs need further assistance concerning this matter, please telephone Terrence D. Ryan, General Counsel, Metropolitan Police Department at 202-727-4129, or Jill A. Stern, General Counsel, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs at 202-442-8404. Luncsford Prison Art Gallery 1600 K Street NW Suite 501 Washington, DC Hours are Mon. to Fri. 9:30AM to 5:30PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 12:30 to 5:30 PM (also evenings by appointment) To the left is one of many prison art prints that you can purchase at our Saturday-Sunday sale at a special discount. They come from talented men and women in prison from across America. Located three blocks from the White House, the Prison Art Gallery is served by two Metro stations (Farragut North on the Red Line, and Farragut West on the Orange and Blue Lines). Note that the entrance is on 16th Street, at the corner of K Street. Open Mon to Fri, 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 12:30 to 5:30 PM (also open evenings by appointment - groups welcome - admission is always free)
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

On Narco Killings and Mexican Political Accords

Location: 
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Mexidata (CA)
URL: 
http://www.mexidata.info/id1342.html

Free Reception for Victim Awareness and Free Music by the Prison Art Gallery Guitar Ensemble

The Prisons Foundation, sponsor of the Prison Art Gallery in Washington, DC, is a long-time supporter of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA). We invite you to join us in attending the NOVA National Awards Ceremony. Free reception immediately following ceremony. For more information, contact OVCInfo@yesevents.com or 1(800) 805-3976. You are also welcome to listen to/download free music by the Prison Art Gallery Guitar Ensemble, which incorporates the popular Sobin Guitar Trio. Seven complete CDs are now available for your listening pleasure: Mostly Motown, Beatles Forever, Latin Love , Duke Ellington Songbook , Rogers and Hammerstein Songbook , Irving Berlin Songbook , and Hoagy Carmichael Songbook. There is no registration, no credit card requirement, no cost whatsoever. Simply go to http://prisonsfoundation.org/song_page.html and enjoy!
Date: 
Fri, 04/20/2007 - 2:30pm - 4:30pm
Location: 
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
United States

Feature: Punk Rocker's Jailing Raises Questions About Field Drug Tests

Don Bolles, drummer for the legendary punk band the Germs, was going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Cat Scandal, after picking her up for "a day off" from drug rehab, on April 4, when they were pulled over in a traffic stop by Newport Beach Police. During a search of the vehicle -- to which Bolles unwisely consented -- police found a bottle of peppermint Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. According to a police field drug test, the soap contained GHB (gamma hydroxyl butyrate), a so-called date rape drug illegal under state and federal law.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ghb.jpg
GHB -- Don Bolles and Dr. Bronner's don't have it
Despite Bolles' disbelieving protests of innocence, he was arrested and charged with possession of GHB. The aging punk spent three and a half days in a series of Orange County jails before being bailed out, and another 10 days facing felony charges before a confirmation test done by the Orange County Sheriff's Department Crime Lab came back negative and prosecutors announced they were dropping the charges.

The field test was performed by a kit manufactured by Armor Forensics/ODV called the Narcopouch 928. Armor Forensics/ODV did not respond to calls from the Chronicle about the false positives reported by its product. One man at ODV who refused to identify himself said only that he could not comment because of possible legal action.

The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association did not respond to Chronicle queries about accuracy standards within the industry. In the group's defense, however, it should be noted that they were all out of the office this week attending a national drug testing industry convention.

The Newport Beach Police Department did not respond to calls from the Chronicle about the accuracy of the GHB field test.

Bolles is out from under the long arm of the law now, but he's not happy about his experience. Neither is Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, whose president, David Bronner, is also a leading figure in the hemp movement and a friend of drug policy reform. Bronner offered Bolles legal assistance when he heard the news, and Dr. Bronner's began a public campaign to clear its name and put the drug testing industry on the defensive.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/narcopouch.jpg
NarcoPouch Squad Pack Kit -- not an accurate test for GHB
Bolles couldn't believe he was being arrested for drug possession, he told the Chronicle. "I knew it wasn't GHB, I knew it was soap; I used it that morning," he said. "It was ridiculous."

Ridiculous it may have been, but Bolles' three and a half day journey through the jails of Southern California was no laughing matter. "They kept me in several different jails, and it was a pretty hardcore experience for me," he said. "There was some 28-hour, weird booking procedure; you have to sit around in a concrete cubicle with other prisoners, they wake you up every half hour. It was pretty horrifying."

When Dr. Bronner's heard about Bolles' predicament on April 9 it issued the first of a series of press releases decrying his arrest and flatly denying that its product contained GHB. "This clearly is a case of profiling by the Newport Beach police of a person who doesn't look like the people who live in that town," said vice-president Michael Bronner. "We are paying the cost of Mr. Bolles' lawyer, and we demand the charges be dropped or proof from the police forensics lab of GHB contamination be immediately provided to us," he stated.

David Bronner derided the police for their bizarre notion that soap was a good place to put GHB. "We cannot imagine anyone putting GHB, or any other drug for that matter, into a rinse-off soap product that is lathered and rinsed off the body immediately," he said. "The Newport Beach police should see how much of a buzz putting beer in their shampoo gives them, and get a grip and apologize on their hands and knees to Mr. Bolles."

"This is ridiculous," Bronner told the Chronicle. "Not only is drug testing an incredible intrusion into people's privacy -- countries like Canada and Europe don't allow this -- but this test is completely unreliable, causing false positives with things like soap. What kind of standards are these tests subject to before they are placed on the market?"

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/bronners1.jpg
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps -- not a useful medium for consuming GHB
"The testing of substances for drugs is basically unregulated," Kevin Zeese, a prominent long-time drug reformer and political activist with expertise in the intersection of law and drug testing. "If it were the feds, the DEA would set the standards, but at the local level, it's state and local police who make the decisions. This all takes place within the criminal justice system; there is no regulation by the FDA or any other agency apart from law enforcement agencies," he told the Chronicle.

"There have been lots of cases of these sorts of tests not being accurate and causing problems, so this is not surprising," said Zeese. "Now, the local police are going to have to do something to correct their standards so they don't falsely accuse people. If they don't, this kind of thing ends up being regulated by the courts."

Bronner had another, disturbing question. "What else can cause a false positive, and how many people have been thrown in jail because of that?" he asked. "Don came under a whole lot of pressure to just plead. According to the drug testing company literature, you can get a conviction based on just a field test and a confession. The confirmation tests have lower cut-offs, so the cops try to get you to confess based on the field test."

Bronner's campaign isn't ending with Bolles' exoneration. At least four other soaps have resulted in false positives in the Narcopouch 928 GHB test kit, including Neutrogena and Tom's of Maine. "We are testing more products and videotaping those tests. Products from Johnson & Johnson and Palmolive are testing positive, so we'll go to the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrances Association, show them these products are testing positive, and then work through them to explore options for addressing the situation with these field drug test kits. Ideally, we could force a product recall, but we need at least a disclaimer if this product is going to continue to be sold. If they don't know soap tests positive, what else don't they know?"

He is also calling for law enforcement to quit using the Narcopouch 928. "Police departments across the country should stop using that immediately," he said.

Bolles rose to fame in the late 1970s as a member of the LA punk band the Germs, whose influence was widespread in the scene and who are credited with popularizing the Mohawk haircut. The band broke up in 1980 after lead singer Darby Crash killed himself. The surviving members reunited two years ago and will tour this summer.

Bolles has not washed his hands of the case yet, either. "The lawyers and David and I have been consulting about our best legal strategy," he said. "We haven't decided which direction to go yet. But what happened to me shouldn't happen to anybody else."

Drug agency remaining mum about raid on doctor's office

Location: 
MT
United States
Publication/Source: 
Billings Gazette (MT)
URL: 
http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/04/19/news/local/40-raid.txt

War burns over car seizure plan

Location: 
Jersey City, NJ
United States
Publication/Source: 
The New Jersey Journal
URL: 
http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-4/117696404576780.xml&coll=3

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