Record Two Million Private Conversations Monitored by Government in 1997 5/15/98

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A recently released government report indicates that a record number of wiretaps (1,186) were approved by state and federal judges in 1997. The average number of conversations intercepted by each tap was 2,081, meaning that over two million separate conversations were surreptitiously overheard. 73 percent of the taps were approved as part of narcotics-related investigations. These figures represent only those cases where neither of the parties to a conversation was aware or approved of the tap.

New York topped the list of states in which wiretaps had been approved with 304. New Jersey was second with 102.

"The Clinton Administration's law enforcement bureaucracy has sought wiretap authorizations at historically unprecedented levels," Eric Sterling, President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation tells The Week Online. "Some of this is the product of the unprecedented growth of federal law enforcement in recent years. One rationale for such growth is wiretapping itself, as it is a very labor- intensive practice. But like nearly every law enforcement tool that has been extended in scope and utility over the past twenty years, there hasn't been a very significant positive payoff."

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Issue #42, 5/15/98 Preliminary Injunction Granted Against 6 California Buyers' Clubs: Medical Marijuana to Get its Day in Court | Kentucky Farmers Seek Federal Court Ruling on Hemp | Santa Clara County Buyers' Club Closes After Police Seize Assets | Portland MS Patient Found Guilty of Marijuana Possession, Manufacturing | Another Botched Raid in New York, Another Innocent Family Terrorized in the Name of "Our Children" | San Mateo County Votes to Study Medicinal Marijuana: Says Research Will Provide Access for Patients | Record Two Million Private Conversations Monitored by Government in 1997 | Forfeiture Victims Need Help | Medical Journal Reports AIDS Patient's Persistent Hiccups Relieved by Marijuana | Editorial: McLies
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