Newsbrief: South Carolina Urine Felon Jailed for Six Months 2/27/04

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To protest the repeated drug tests that he, a non-drug user, was forced to endure in order to get and keep work, South Carolina resident Kenneth Curtis six years ago formed a company that sold clean urine, along with tubing and a heating pack. In response, the South Carolina legislature crafted a law directed solely at Curtis, making it a crime to try to defraud a drug test. Then after being pressured by the law's author, Senate Chairman David Thomas (R), South Carolina authorities arrested and convicted Curtis -- the only arrest and conviction ever made under that law.

Now, with his appeals exhausted, Curtis has begun serving a six-month prison sentence. He was actually sentenced to six years, but had all but the six months suspended, ensuring that Curtis will be under the thumb of the state parole department for years to come. He began serving the sentence last week, after the South Carolina Supreme Court last month rejected his appeal arguing that the conviction should be overturned because the charges were vague, there was insufficient evidence he intended to defraud with the kits, and the law constituted an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

"I wanted to show how ridiculous this whole urine testing law is and what I got is a dramatic illustration of how far the government is willing to go to prop up the war on drugs," Curtis told DRCNet in an interview after being convicted in late 2001 ( And while Curtis said at the time he had no regrets, he quickly amended that. "Never having been through a criminal proceeding, I now regret my naivete in thinking I could find justice in the criminal courts. I expect to be treated to the worst prison conditions South Carolina has to offer if I lose on appeal, but I will continue my course. I hope the courts will eventually uphold me. I can't believe the Founding Fathers wanted the courts to be doing what they did in South Carolina in my case."

And now he rots in prison, the victim of a political vendetta by Sen. Thompson, his legislative allies, and the courts and prosecutors who undertook to persecute him for what was in essence an act of political theater.

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Issue #326, 2/27/04 Editorial: Needless Danger | Nevada Voters to Get Second Chance to Legalize Marijuana | New York: Medical Marijuana on the Move in Albany and NYC | South Dakota "Internal Possession" Drug Law Upheld | Newsbrief: US 9th Circuit Denies Federal Appeal in Medical Marijuana Case | Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Nader on Drugs | Newsbrief: Utah Federal Judge Questions Mandatory Minimums | Newsbrief: South Carolina Urine Felon Jailed for Six Months | Newsbrief: Psychedelic Pioneer Humphry Osmond Dead at 86 | Newsbrief: California Narcs Kill Wrong Man | Newsbrief: Hempster Becomes Local Hero in Icy Pond Rescue | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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