Criminal Justice

RSS Feed for this category

Canadian "Up in Smoke Cafe" Raided, Probably Closed for Good

Localização: 
Hamilton, ON
Canada
Publication/Source: 
Cannabis Culture
URL: 
http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/4795.html

To Snitch or Not to Snitch

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill has a fascinating editorial at AllHipHop.com about the moral dilemmas created by the growing Stop Snitching movement.

The movement, which has been accompanied by a flurry of t- shirts, songs, websites, and DVDs, is ideologically grounded in the belief that people should not cooperate with law enforcement authorities under any circumstances.

As you might guess, the movement is not without its critics:

In response to the "Stop Snitching" campaign, community organizations, politicians, and law enforcement agencies have mounted a full-fledged counter-movement, informally titled "Start Snitching", designed to encourage the hip-hop generation to cooperate with authorities when criminal acts are committed.

Hill doesn’t elaborate on their tactics unfortunately, and I’m left wondering how police and politicians plan to popularize snitching among a demographic already ravaged by the criminal justice system.

Afterall, this us-against-them mentality is hardly limited to the African-American community:

Even the police, who are among the strongest opponents of the "Stop Snitching" movement, have a 'blue code' of silence that protects them from internal snitches.

It’s true. Police advocates are fond of claiming that “a few bad apples” are responsible for all police misconduct, but police are loathe to expose criminality within their ranks. It’s ironic that those who’ve maintained a long-standing and virtually impenetrable “don’t snitch” ethic are now begging the public to stop following suit.

Ultimately, the “Stop Snitching” movement is a form of protest literally woven into the fabric of popular culture. A counter movement of police and prosecutors begging young people of color to “Start Snitching” is comically hypocritical, serving only to further legitimize the anti-informant crusade by proving its effectiveness.

The hard truth is that the “Stop Snitching” movement will continue to grow. Those that have been born the brunt of our war on drugs and the crime it causes have discovered a form of silent resistance. Thanks to the drug war, our most dangerous criminals are capitalizing on a climate of distrust between the police and the public in minority communities.

And if the DAs are up in arms over this, just wait til 50 Cent writes a song about jury nullification.

Localização: 
United States

Editorial: It's Time to Get Real About Opium in Afghanistan

David Borden, Executive Director, 7/28/06

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/borden12.jpg
David Borden
I wouldn't say that many countries are truly rational about drug policy yet, but some of them have more people, in more prominent positions, who have gotten there. When they do, it tends to transcend traditional political boundaries -- for example, Conservative party leader David Cameron in Great Britain, who suggested legalization during the run-up to his selection for the post, and others in his party who asked him this week to support a licensing scheme for Afghan opium as opposed to the current regime of total prohibition and sporadic and ineffective eradication efforts.

What some of the Tories are saying is that it's unrealistic to think we can be effective against an industry that makes up 50% of the struggling nation's economy, that when eradication efforts happen, they drive farmers into the Taliban's corner and seem correlated with outbreaks of violence, that instituting a legal opium crop (which could be used and is actually somewhat needed for the legal medical market) would reduce the illicit market and deal a blow to evil-doers by bringing the money above-board and reducing their access to it.

Given the substantial threats existing to security and the role movements operating from Afghanistan have played in some of them, I vote for realism. These Brits are right -- trying to pull the plug on Afghanistan's opium trade is a truly insane idea -- we would only find out how insane if we were actually to succeed. The war against drugs is a war that cannot be won -- too many people are determined to take them and are willing to pay the money that it takes to get them.

In that sense, the bad guys will always have more resources to work with then the good guys. In a larger sense, the lines dividing the bad guys from the good guys are more than a little blurred, when the enemy apparently include destitute third-world farmers who only want to save their families from starving, and ordinary American and European citizens who only want to be left alone to indulge in their pastimes in private.

Cameron, of course, is from the other side of the aisle as current British prime minister Tony Blair, and even if the Conservatives were in power, they doubtless don't all support his views about legalization. Doing something about it is even harder still than that. And of course the Afghans get to have some say in what happens in their country too, and they are not all on board even with the moderate proposal of licensing for the medical supply. (Our editor Phil Smith found that out when he attended last September's conference in Kabul on the idea.)

Still, you have to start somewhere, and a the top political leaders in a nation that is the US's closest ally seems as good a place as any. A desperate country like Afghanistan that urgently needs stability and to reduce criminality also would seem a worthy place, even more so in light of our own related interests there. It's time to get real about opium in Afghanistan.

Feature: Holy Smoke Bust Mobilizes Interior British Columbia Cannabis Community

Although the owners of Holy Smoke, the Nelson, British Columbia, head shop and culture center, wouldn’t exactly put it this way, the raid on their shop two weeks ago tomorrow is igniting a holy war in the cannabis-friendly Kootenay region of the province. When Nelson city police ended a de facto truce by arresting Holy Smoke co-owner Paul DeFelice for allegedly selling marijuana at the store, Holy Smoke and its supporters started mobilizing to fight back, and they've only just begun.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/nelson2.jpg
Nelson, British Columbia: Conflict Amidst the Beauty, Thanks to the Drug Warriors
Just north of the US-Canada border above Spokane, Washington, Nelson, a city of 10,000 located along the shoes of Kootenay Lake's West Arm, is a veritable reefer redoubt. While official figures are naturally impossible to come by, marijuana growing is a major local industry, both in Nelson and in the nearby Slocan Valley. Area youths take it across the mountainous, forested border on foot and by mountain bike, on skis and on snowmobiles, while bigger operations may employ helicopters and sophisticated tracking devices. Area merchants have told DRCNet they know when the crops are coming in because that's when their sales increase.

Holy Smoke is the most visible symbol of the region's cannabis culture, but there are plenty more if one looks, from the hemp shop on downtown Baker Street to the dreadlocked young denizens of the town to the four marijuana grow supply shops -- the small town has twice the number of the entire Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area -- not to mention the smell of sativa and indica smoke washing through the air not infrequently.

The shop, co-owned by DeFelice, Alan Middlemiss, and attorney Dustin Cantwell, has been a center of the region's cannabis culture since it opened in 1996. A year later, Nelson police raided it, but were laughed out of court by a judge who demanded they learn how to properly do searches, and since then they have largely left the place alone. Even as whispers that marijuana was being sold from the store spread within the community, police failed to act. In fact, Nelson police told DRCNet off the record earlier this year that they believed selling at the shop had made street dealers scarce. If so, that has all changed now.

DRCNet attempted to speak with Nelson police this week, to no avail. The officer in charge of the raid, Sgt. Steve Bank, curiously warned that more arrests were coming, then went on vacation, and no one else at the department wanted to talk about the raid.

With DeFelice facing possible prison time for alleged marijuana sales -- something Holy Smoke is careful to neither confirm nor deny given the parlous legal situation -- and police threatening more busts in the near future, the shop and its supporters are rallying around the cause. "We are preparing to take a 'lowest law enforcement priority' measure to the city council," said Middlemiss, "and we are taking to the streets."

At the same time six Nelson police officers were raiding Holy Smoke and arresting DeFelice, a 15-year-old girl was dosed with Rohypnol and raped, Middlemiss said. "If the police had their priorities straight, that might not have happened."

Holy Smoke and its supporters will tap into the Nelson area's long traditions of nonviolent protest and counterculture activism, he said. "Nelson has a long and glorious history of nonviolent action, from the First Nations to the Doukhobors [a Russian sect that emigrated to the region a century ago] to the draft dodgers, even the Japanese who were interned in camps near here in World War II organized and protested. We have a rebellious nature here, but we've been lulled into complacency," he told DRCNet.

The Kootenay region cannabis nation will hold a mass march and protest in Nelson on August 5. "I think there is huge support for responsible marijuana use around here, for reordering police priorities, for making adult marijuana use the lowest priority," said Middlemiss. "But we need to be consolidating, we need a really large march, and we're hoping people will literally come out of the hemp woodwork for it. This will be a massive pro-marijuana rally, not a smoke-in, and we are expecting mass support," he said.

"Look, our community has had enough of US choppers flying around looking for a benign herb, we've had enough of illegal DEA operations in our country, we've had enough of wasting our tax dollars on nonviolent drug offenses," Middlemiss continued. "We want to get to the bottom of our drug problems, but the police are the worst way of going about it."

Support for Holy Smoke and marijuana legalization is not limited to the dreadlocked set. "Our supporters include bus drivers, janitors, mothers, lawyers, dentists. The chamber of commerce and local businesses will support us at the city council," said Middlemiss. "Heck, the chamber has even asked us to advertise because they get so many people coming to town and asking them how to find us."

With similar attacks on another cannabis café, Hamilton's Up in Smoke, and a new conservative national government rumbling ominously about toughening the marijuana laws, the Holy Smoke folks are feeling like they may be pawns in a larger, more sinister game. "The conservatives want to stifle the alternative culture, but here in Nelson, it is part of the fabric of the city and every business in town depends on the cannabis economy. We are wondering if the marching orders are coming from Washington," Middlemiss said.

"I think this is part of some sort of joint DEA-Canadian justice ministry operation," said Holy Smoke co-owner Dustin Cantwell. "The orders for this must have come from on high. The conservatives who came to power with Prime Minister Harper and his gang are embracing the American agenda, and they're starting with folks like us who stick out of the water. But we're the tip of the iceberg. Below the water line is our mass base."

Holy Smoke is still open and still smoking, both indoors in its smoking room and outdoors on the nearby public land turned into a mini-park by local cannabis consumers who enjoy looking across the lake at Elephant Mountain as they toke. And it remains headquarters both for the local cannabis community and the upcoming protests. Contact them via the web site if you want to help.

Sentencing: Federal Judges More Likely to Acquit Than Juries

Federal judges are much more likely to acquit defendants than juries are, according to a review of some 77,000 federal criminal trials between 1989 and 2002. Juries convicted 84% of defendants, while judges in bench trials convicted only about half. The phenomenon is recent, with judges and juries convicting at about the same rate from the 1960s through the 1980s, and prior to that, judges were much more likely to convict than juries.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/gavel.jpg
The findings come from a paper published by University of Illinois College of Law professor Andrew Leipod, "Why Are Judges So Acquittal-Prone?," published in the Washington University Law Quarterly and discussed at some length at the Volokh Conspiracy blog. According to Leipold, he was puzzled at the shift and sought an answer.

"The core problem," he wrote, "is to find something about criminal trials that has changed since the late 1980s, something that would affect judges but not juries." The evidence suggests a likely culprit, Leipod argued. "I think the sentencing guidelines best fits this description. The guidelines took away a huge amount of sentencing discretion, which meant that judges were more often faced with cases where they knew that a conviction would result in a harsh - maybe too harsh - sentence. We don't have to say that judges were acting 'lawlessly' to reach the unremarkable conclusion that judges may hold the government even more tightly to its burden of proof when the stakes are high and unforgiving."

Because judges do not fill out forms showing what factors they weigh when they rule, any evidence of a link between conviction rates and the sentencing guidelines is necessarily indirect, but, Leipold notes, it is probably not coincidence that "with the Guidelines really hitting stride just as the judicial conviction rate started to slide." Many judges "were harshly critical of the how the guidelines made it harder for them to do justice in individual cases," he noted.

[Editor's Note: One might suppose that mandatory minimum sentencing is also having this effect on federal judges -- an equally, sometimes harsher federal sentencing system that is parallel to and interlocks with the guidelines. Congress enacted mandatory minimums very hastily, two years after creating the sentencing guidelines, following the 1986 overdose death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.]

Search and Seizure: Five-Day Shackling in Colorado Prison to Find Swallowed Drugs Approaches Torture Level

Authorities at the Colorado state prison in Buena Vista kept an inmate shackled to a chair for five and ½ days without sleep or exercise, never turned off the lights, and strip-searched and cavity-searched him 17 times even though he was under the constant watch of a guard. Prison officials suspected inmate Brian Willert, 29, of swallowing bags of heroin and wanted to collect the evidence.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/jail1.jpg
They eventually did, but the judge hearing the case, Chaffee County District Court Judge Charles Barton, threw out the evidence, saying that prison authorities could have achieved the same goal in a few hours by obtaining a court order to administer a laxative. What prison officials did to Willert was an unreasonable search, Barton held.

"Forcing a shackled inmate to sit in a chair for over five days posed, in the court's opinion, an unreasonable risk to the life and health of the inmate," Barton said in his July 14 ruling. "It is difficult for the court to imagine a more intrusive procedure. Defendant was watched every minute for over five days. He was not permitted to meet the basic human need to lie down and sleep."

Barton also questioned what the repeated strip searches had to do with security and criticized prison officials for failing to check on Willert's health after he tested positive for methamphetamine on day four, suggesting a balloon had broken. But Barton rejected Public Defender Patrick Murphy's contention that what was done to Willert constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

Willert was placed in a "dry cell" without a sink or toilet after his girlfriend told prison authorities she had passed balloons of what she thought was heroin to him during a visit. That is standard procedure for the Colorado Department of Corrections, director of prisons Gary Golder told the Rocky Mountain News. But "dry cell" stays rarely last more than a day, he said. Still, Golden said, the department's inspector general will investigate. "Did the staff violate the policies or do something inappropriate?" he asked.

Europe: British Conservatives Call For Legal, Licensed Afghan Opium Production As Troop Toll Mounts

Using the occasion of a visit to Afghanistan this week by Conservative Party leader David Cameron, several leading Tory Members of Parliament urged him to push for legal, licensed opium production in that war-torn country, The Guardian reported. The calls came as at least six British soldiers have been killed this summer battling a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan's southern opium-producing provinces and echo the position first elaborated last year by the Senlis Council, an international security and development group.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/opium-smaller.jpg
the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
In concert with the Americans, NATO forces have taken responsibility for security in Afghanistan's Taliban-friendly south, and now Tory MPs are complaining that the coalition's insistence on eradicating the opium crop is endangering the lives of British soldiers. With opium accounting for nearly half of the national economy, farmers and traffickers alike are fighting to save their livelihoods, and sometimes turning to the Taliban for protection.

"The poppy crops are the elephant in the room of the Afghan problem," Tory whip Tobias Ellwood told the Guardian. "We're in complete denial of the power that the crops have on the nation as a whole, and the tactics of eradication are simply not working. Last year we spent $600 million on eradication and all that resulted was the biggest-ever export of opium from the country."

Instead, Ellwood said, opium farming should be licensed, with the harvest being sold legally in the open. That would help farmers, address a global shortage of opioid pain medications, and limit the supply of opium to the black market, where, after being processed into heroin, much of it finds its way into the veins of European junkies. According to Ellwood, the licensed opium plan has the support of several Conservative MPs and senior military figures in Afghanistan.

Conservative leader Cameron has been open to outside-the-box thinking on drug policy issues. He has called for prescription heroin and even urged the United Nations to consider legalizing drugs.

The Guardian quoted one unidentified NGO worker who has traveled extensively in Helmand province as saying that eradication efforts were merely driving peasants to join the Taliban. "The better-off farmers pay local commanders bribes so they don't have to eradicate, but the others have their main source of income cut off," said the worker, who did not wish to be named because of the danger of being identified in southern Afghanistan. "Then the Taliban come to their villages and say, 'We will pay your son to work for us and give him weapons and food.' If you look at the timing of the eradication programs and the flare-ups of the violence, often it happens in the same week."

The NGO worker said Taliban members had been spotted walking the streets armed in broad daylight in Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gar, and that Arab fighters had been spotted within 10 miles of the capital. "We're pouring gas on the flames of the violence with this eradication campaign. By alienating the locals we're playing into a sophisticated political plan on the part of al-Qaida and the Taliban to destabilize southern Afghanistan. The political naivety of the international community in doing this is mind-boggling," the worker said.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Busy, busy. Cops getting arrested, cops pleading guilty, cops going to prison. And, of course, the ever-present drug-dealing prison guard. Let's get to it:

In Miami, three Boston police officers were arrested last Thursday after taking $35,000 to protect a cocaine shipment in an FBI sting operation. Ringleader Robert Pulido, 41, and fellow officers Carlos Pizarro, 36, and Nelson Carrasquillo, 35, traveled to Miami to celebrate their drug protection deal and plot more deals with undercover narcs they thought were cocaine traffickers, the Associated Press reported. Pulido allegedly got into a variety of criminal activities, with his junior partners sometimes joining in. Those offenses include protecting drug shipments, identity theft, sponsoring illegal after-hours parties with prostitutes, money laundering and insurance fraud, according to prosecutors. They are in jail awaiting an August 2 removal hearing.

In Deming, New Mexico, a Luna County Sheriff's Deputy was arrested Tuesday on methamphetamine possession charges after he took the dope off a man during a traffic stop, but never turned it in as evidence, the Luna County Sun-News reported. Deputy Tommy Salas, 33, turned himself in Tuesday afternoon and was release on $7,500 bail on one count of meth possession. Salas had been on paid administrative leave since June 9, when the sheriff's office and local prosecutors opened an investigation into "discrepancies" in the traffic case. Another officer at the scene had watched Salas take the drugs from the driver and heard him vow to turn them in, but it never happened.

In Lebanon, Ohio, a Warren County prison guard was arrested Monday for accepting drugs and money to be smuggled in to a prison inmate, Cincinnati's Fox19-TV reported. Corrections Officer Michael Miller, 37, went down after accepting marijuana and $600 from an undercover agent, capping what local police said was a three-month investigation. Miller is charged with two felony counts of conveyance of drugs and is in "mandatory incarceration" because he is a corrections officer.

In Laredo, Texas, a former drug task force deputy commander pleaded guilty last Friday to extortion charges for accepting tens of thousands of dollars from drug dealers to protect their operations. According to the Associated Press, Julio Alfonso Lopez, 45, accepted at least $44,500 from his middleman with the traffickers, Meliton Valadez, who has already been convicted for his role in the scheme. The pair were also accused of providing sensitive police information to traffickers and providing storage spots for cocaine shipments. Lopez pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.

In St. Louis, a former St. Louis police officer has been sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in a drug conspiracy, the Associated Press reported. Former officer Antoine Gordon was convicted in an April trial of checking police databases to see if people buying heroin from the drug ring leader were working as snitches for police. Gordon was one of 19 people who have pleaded guilty to drug or weapons charges in the case.

Manatee County SWAT Officer Shot in Narcotics Raid (Florida)

Localização: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.news4jax.com/news/9578344/detail.html

Bill Seeks to Cut Disparities in Cocaine Sentences

Localização: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Washington Times
URL: 
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20060725-111608-8951r.htm

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School