If You're on the Jury in a Drug Case, Always Vote 'Not Guilty'

Having already created the greatest crime drama in television history, the writers of HBO's The Wire have now also delivered an unusually powerful indictment of the drug war. While the program itself raises many questions about the practical application of our nation's drug laws, this forceful statement removes all doubt about where its authors stand:
If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens. [Time]
I can think of few things more satisfying than ruling against the drug war in a court of law. Alas, however, I expect not to be offered such an opportunity any time soon given the readily accessible archive of evidence that would lead any prosecutor to send me home well before opening arguments.

On that note, my colleagues David Borden and David Guard once refused jury service outright in protest of the drug war's corrosive effect on the criminal justice system. They were found in contempt of court and sentenced to serve community service indefinitely so long as they refused to perform their civic duty. They eventually capitulated, but only after generating press coverage in The Washington Post. To my knowledge, neither has been called to serve since.

Ultimately, the value of jury nullification as a weapon against the drug war is difficult to measure, but we have everything to gain by actively educating the public about the right to vote one's conscience when serving on a jury. I've learned anecdotally of many instances of nullification, usually at the hands of a concerned citizen who would never have stood out within the jury pool. Beyond that, I suspect that the prospect of nullification is already influencing prosecutorial behavior in dramatic, though invisible, ways. The best example may be California, where federal harassment of medical marijuana providers rarely results in formal charges.

The U.S. Constitution, worn thin through decades of drug war destruction, does still bestow upon us the privilege of standing in judgment of our peers. Let us cherish this noble duty and exercise our constitutional right to put the drug war itself on trial, wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Always Vote 'Not Guilty'

There's always a way!
In my situation a man was on trial for less than an ounce of pot. The "state" presented it's evidence, then the defense and we went to deliberate. We were given a bag of what looked like pot to view while we decided. The government did not test this material. We were told it was not worth the cost of testing for small amounts. I pointed out to my fellow jurors that the state was willing to pay room and board for the jailing of this man but not the testing of the pot. Several wanted to vote guilty but we convinced them not to because there should be no short cuts to justice.
He got off even though we all knew it was pot.

Jury...the last stand

Nullification is a great tool ,but when the prosecutor selects potential jurists, he asks questions. Will you lie in order to save a fellow citizen? If the prosecutor thinks you are lying, or have lied, he may charge you with a crime.Still, I think it's worth the risk. Obama watches The Wire.Change?..maybe. As to the DRUGWAR itself, GUILTY!

Jury Nullification

I did not know about jury nullification until last week after listening to a NORML.ORG podcast. After a little research, I have found that one of the biggest reasons that alcohol prohibition failed is that juries would use jury nullification to return a not guilty verdict because the law was bad. At that time the judge was required to instruct the jury about their rights and duty to judge the LAW and the facts of the case. These days judges and attorneys are not allowed to even mention the true power of the jury. I recommend that everyone to serve in any jury as their civic duty. See that justice is served. Do not allow judges or prosecutor to intimidate you. Read about your rights and responsibilities as a juror. Google jury nullification. Tell everyone! We can do the same with this prohibition. END IT!!

how to get on a jury

Don't tell them that you believe in legalizing drugs.
Don't tell them that you can't convict.
Don't say you will be more or less likely to believe the police.

Yes, this involves lying.
But think of those great American spies who lied to SAVE this country.
Get on the jury and just keep saying "I have doubts. I'm not sure of his guilt." ect. Stick to your guns. Do not convict!

Even if it is a hung jury that makes the situation better for the defendant.
Many times the State will offer a better deal after a mistrial.

this is the best way

to stop police and the courts they are nothing more than dispicable proffitters in human misery .not guilty for any drug crime its the right thing to do


by gibbs williams | edit | delete


The moment I heard Senator Obama give his electrifying talk at New York University a number of months ago I had a brothers Kennedy (all three of them) moment. Inspiration counts. Words are important. Important words are powerful motivators for inducing and directing significant psychological change. But change from what to what?

Senator Obama outlines his idea of change in the following ways:

Change the mind set of our attitudes to such important issues as if and when we go to war; the upholding of our basic principles no matter what rationalizations tempt us to make exceptions; meeting with the enemy even if we haven't extracted concessions before hand and the likes.
Actively inviting all sides - Democrats, Republicans and Independents etc. to the table to work out fair, reasonable, well thought out, well researched long term solutions to the many complex problems which intimately effect all of our present and future conditions.
Invite criticism and accountability.
Reestablishing a value and standard of transparency and eliminating or at least greatly reducing unncessary secrecy.
Promote standards of being civil, graceful, decent, with true and actual compassion not just campaign rhetoric.
Promoting an atmosphere of basic trust where words are backed up with right action - where words mean what they say and what is said is an expression of what is meant.
Where double talk is forbidden and straight talk is celebrated.
An invitation for interested citizens to suggest policy revisions.
With respect to this last suggestion I have a pet revision in policy that is the outgrowth of 40 years of being on the front line on the largely failed war on substance abuse. For years I have watched government rehash symptoms and call for commisions to study the problem. And as time goes by little over all is done to rehabilitate but instead record numbers of prisions continue to be built and warehouse an increasing number of prisoners.

Just yesterday I saw a statistic that indicated that 1 percent of the pospulation in the U.S were in prisons. This equals about 2 million people. And of the 2 million approximately 65 percent of those are there because of some association with substance abuse.

In 1967 - I worked at an innovative therapetuic community in New York City - Odyssey House - as a psychologist and assistant director - who witnessed a successful program successfully transform approximately 50 percent of raw heroin addicts into solid citizens over the course of approximately one year.


THere is no question in my mind that programs like this should be implemented all over this country. What really stands in the way of doing this is the lack of a mind set that puts meaningful rehabilitation over using punishment to scapegoat unorganized and disenfranchised groups of down trodden and emotionally impoverished people. These our lost generations - who with systematic care can rather easily and willingly be transformed into productive citizens.

The following is my outline for what I would do if I was in pa position to dictate and implement substance abuse policy.

A Strategy for the Control of Drug Addiction
Gibbs A. Wiliams Ph.D.

Despite millions of dollars being poured into trying to stop the influx of drugs at their source, barely 10% is effectively being intercepted. It is evident that interfering with drug abuse will have to focus more at the demand level in the form of treatment and prevention. While this is hardly a novel idea, I believe the lack of specificity of practical details has thus far thwarted attempts to make a significant dent on this problem. Thus there is an urgent need to derive new approaches. It is the purpose of this letter to do so.

With respect to treatment, an article in The New York Times (6/17/86) states:
Attention is shifting to a more fundamental issue, the shortage of treatment programs for those who want to shed their addiction. In New York and other locals, experts said, treatment programs are saturated and callers seeking help are put on the waiting list.

With respect to prevention through education: appeals to the risks and dangers of drugs are often presented in off putting moralistic ways, and in unrealistically optimisitic one shot doses that only touch surface issues. I believe there is a major deficiency in this approach. This deficiency is a lack of an adequate understanding of the core problem underlying the symptom of drug abuse.

Assuming the above, it is clear that bold, innovative programs for both treatment and prevention need to be conceptualized and implemented on a massive scale. The following suggestions for the structure and focus of such a program has grown out of my experience as an Assistant Director of Odyssey House (a therapeutic community treatment center for drug abusers).

Odyssey House, along with other therapeutic communities, derived its treatment program based on the Ramirez Theory of drug addiction. The Ramirez model assumes that drug abuse is a symptom of an underlying set of psychological problems in addition to cultural, familial and sociological variables. Ramirez agrees with Chein, a noted addiction expert who states in his classic book, The Road To H.

Chein says: ''The evidence indicates that all addicts suffer from deep-rooted, major personality disorders. Although psychiatric diagnoses will vary, a a particular set of symptoms seems to be most common in cases of juvenile addicts. They are not able to enter prolonged close, friendly relations with either peers or adults; they have difficulties in assuming a masculine (or feminine) role; they are frequently overcome by a sense of futility, expectation of failure and a general depression, they are easily frustrated and made anxious, and they find both frustration and anxiety intolerable.''

Central to these findings is the inability of the addict to tolerate psychological pain. This finding is supported repeatedly in the literature. It follows that effective treatment and prevention must address itself to this central issue. In clinical terms, the research indicates that the core psychological issue underlying the symptom of drug addiction is the abusers inability to tolerate frustration and associated painful feelings. Therapeutic community programs were designed to effectively confront this core issue.

Therapeutic Communities implicitly or explicitly appreciate that frustration tolerance or frustration intolerance is a learned response to too much or too little gratification in childhood. The child who is a by-product of excessive negation of his wants and/or needs grows up feeling deprived. This feeling of deprivation prevents the person from tolerating the inevitable limitations of life. This is so because under-gratified people feel beaten before they act, resulting (beyond a fail safe point) in their collapsing under the weight of internal or external pressures experienced by them as too stressful.

This contrasts with the overly-gratified person who grows up with an attitude of unrealistically expected ease. When such pain averse people have no choice but to confront inevitable limitations stirring painful dissappointment, they often cave into pressure at best or are paralyzed at worst. This inability to tolerate frustration has major implications for developing individuals. Without this ability there is no way for a person to effectively summon his/her whole self to cope with increasingly more complex problems of daily living.

Odyssey House The structure of the Odyssey House treatment program is geared to promoting graded, systematic difficulties for teaching patients to tolerate increasing doses of frustration. Initially there is an acceptance of the incoming addict with all of his/her self-defeating attitudes. An invitation is extended to each addict to take a chance with the program held out to be a better alternative than their present lifestyle. Motivated addicts are able to distinguish themselves with productive work, attaining increased rank, privileges, and responsibilities. Finally, as the 'more productive citizens' of the community work through their problems, they in turn become co-counselors who along with professional helpers aid those below themselves. The last task is for the mature ex- addict to leave the program re-entering society as a 'whole person.'

A planned structure for each day is the vehicle for meaningful work and relatedness. Part of the day consists of maintaining the up-keep of 'the house' including such tasks as cooking, cleaning, and repairing. The afternoon consists of individual therapy, group therapy, and classes in a school setting. Night time is for play and socializing. Experience demonstrates that it takes approximately one year for the new addict to develop into a productive citizen of the house.

There is no question that programs such as Odyssey House have been successful in re-educating the attitudes and behavior of a large number of drug abusers. However, it is also true, that scarcely a dent has been made in the overall drug problem with respect to treatment and prevention. The reasons behind these low ratings are to be found in the history of past failures.

In the early 196O's the Federal Government sponsored a comprehensive rehabilitation program called the Riverside Program that had high hopes but failed to reach its expectations and closed in 1963. Jeffee (1966) accounts for the reasons of this failure in his book, Narcotics - An American Plan.

Jeffee states:
(failure was due to) a lack of trained personnel with the abilities to cope with the nuances and intricacies of the addict and his/her problems; a lack of sufficient hospital beds and funds; inadequate follow-up programs, psychotherapy, and after-care and rehabilitation.

Jeffee implies that the failure of such programs is due not to a lack of knowledge ;but, rather due to an attitude that fails to provide adequate training, supervision, funding, and careful follow-up. Most likely for the same reasons, the Rockefeller Program (1973) attempting to control narcotics addiction in New York State became an admitted failure in the same vein as the Riverside Program which preceded it ten years earlier. Some called it "a billion dollar failure." If the corrections Jeffee outlines in his book would be implemented it seems reasonable that such program structures should be extended in scope.

One attempt to extend the scope of such 'corrected' programs was experienced by me while working at Odyssey House in 1968. The year, 1968, was parallel to 1986 when, like now, drug addiction was spreading at an alarming rate. Heroin was the crack of it's day. Odyssey House was one of approximately ten such programs attempting to stem the epidemic of heroin addiction. Intake figures indicated that many of the incoming addicts were from Harlem. An idea was proposed to take the program to this problem area. A plan was conceived to find a "slum lord" who would lease a broken-down house for a small monthly rent. In return, we would promise a complete renovation and maintenance of the building. Our reasoning was that a broken-down house is a perfect vehicle for generating meaningful work by appealing to a person's pride of possession. In New York City there were and are no lack of sites to satisfy this need. The same conditions are probably true for many other areas of this country.

That very afternoon the plan was put into motion. In one week a building was found, rented, and filled with 35 raw addicts and their supervisors. I dubbed it ''the pressure cooker.'' The structure of the treatment program was the same as that of ''the mother house.''

The central attitude conveyed in the program philosophy is that there is no magic cure. You get back what you put into the program. The program structure is guided by two basic assumptions:

(l) Struggle is an inevitable fact of this life ( there no free lunch);
(2) addicts suffer from an aversion to sustained struggling

The core attitude conveyed in the program philosophy is that there is no magic cure. Success is proportional to the degree of hard work undertaken by a given patient.

Thus, such programs as Odyssey House provide a systematic opportunity for the addict to be challenged, aided, and encouraged to struggle with struggle. In so doing the addict gradually learns how to tolerate increasing dosages of frustration. This is brought about as the addict learns to cope with the associated problems of daily living in a structured setting.

In a short time, the house was humming with constructive activity and positive feelings. In a positive atmosphere, the best in people is brought out contrasted with the opposite. Expect little, provide little, and you cultivate self - defeating attitudes and behavior leading to cynicism, emotional and spiritual impoverishment and despair. In encouraging atmospheres, hopeful attitudes are as contagious as cynical ones are in discouraging atmospheres. Boredom, meaninglessness, and passivity, trademarks of street addicts, are, in positive atmospheres, converted into kinetic energy, hope and purposeful activity. Previously lost souls begin to come alive.

I firmly believe with careful planning, training, supervision, follow-up and adequate funding this model satellite program might be adopted on a larger scale in New York and elsewhere.

A question of funding and obtaining professional personnel may be raised. In 1968 it was allowable for addicts in treatment programs to receive Medicaid monies which were turned over to the programs to pay for the costs of care. As for counselors, some came from the ranks of ex-addicts. As for trained professionals, it is to be noted, that at the time, there was an over supply of social workers, rehabilitation counselors, and psychologists. Additionally, there might be individuals recruited from a domestic peace-corps. Other innovations for competent staff members might be to invite capable and interested older workers to lend their expertise, wisdom, and years of experience to serve as role models and guides. Companies such as IBM might donate computers; Kodak, photography equipment, and the like.

With respect to prevention, I believe there needs to be a clear delineation of the underlying core problem of drug abuse; namely, the inability of the addict to tolerate frustration. There must be an attitude that appreciates the fact that neither power nor faith alone, or in combination are enough to solve the assumed core problem of addiction. In this view, addicts suffer not so much from an unwillingness to control themselves, but from a lack of psychological know how based on an inadequate psychological structure. Psychological structure (a cohesive self and a strong ego) spontaneously develop as a direct result of people purposefully learning to tolerate increasing acceptance of the inevitable pain and conflicts of normal living.

In summary, the intent of this proposal is not to present itself as the definitive solution for the drug abuse problem, but does intend to serve as a catalyst for bold, innovative, practical initiatives of proven workable ideas. Evidence exists that drug addiction is best viewed as a symptom of an underlying psychological problem. It is proposed that the core psychological problem is an inability of the addict to tolerate increasing dosages of frustration. Applying this assertion to the idea that in an accurate description of a problem lies an embedded solution it follows that effective treatment of drug abuse is primarily directed to working on this core issue. Proven treatment models already exist which might be implemented on a large scale provided there is adequate knowledge, attention, resolve, funding, training, supervision, and appropriate follow up of these proposed mini-therapeutic communities.

If and not until there is an all-out-commitment to turn the tide of substance abuse, by focusing on the demand side of the problem (at least equal to the supply side), is there likely to be a truly significant reduction in the overall numbers of actual and potential substance abusers.

Reducing the demand for drugs will come about only when we have an indepth understanding of the basic needs met by compulsive drug users. In my professional experience the psychological craving for drugs is an attempt to induce an altered state of consciousness. Its purpose is to reinforce two basic illusions concerning the addict's relationship to reality:

(1) there are no limitations, and
(2) there should be no psychic pain.

Until and unless the grown-ups among us challenge these infantile illusions we may well look back to our time as the beginning of the disintegration of civilized society. Mature adults know that realistic limitations and the need to cope with psychic pain is inevitable.

What is needed is a systematic educational program which teaches addicts and pre-addicts how to tolerate increasing dosages of frustration (i.e., learning how to struggle with struggle). Such a program would utilize the 'how' underlying Mrs. Reagan's formula of "Just Say No."

We must, as caretakers of organized society, confront our lost and potentially lost generations; exposing the myths that quick money, material goods and power over others appears to fill the emptiness, reduces the sense of meaninglessness and raise the low self esteem that motivates addicts to ever more desperate attempts to blot out ordinary complicated experience.


Conclusion: The above is one idea for inducing significant change. I am certain there are countless others of a similar nature in the minds of other people like me who would love the opportunity to share their extensive experience with Senator Obama - after he becomes the next President of the United States.

And if I am jumping the gun with respect to my prediction of the next President then this is an open letter to Senator Clinton and or Senator McCain as well.

Gibbs A. Williams Ph.D. - Psychoanalyst [email protected]

Therapeutic Communities are "Political Re-education"

I've been through two TCs, one during my last year in prison, and one during my first year out. I successfully completed both of them. I still don't buy into the concept. Therapeutic Communities -TCs- are Totalitarian Cults.

The American TCs are all ideologicallty rooted in Synanon, founded by Charles Dederich, a megalomaniaical petty tyrant who ended his life as a convicted violent felon.

While I still have much love and respect for the director of the first TC I went through (in case she's reading this) I can say that the programs are psychologically brutal and degrading. They also skew their statistics by measuring relapse rates among those who succeed. In most cases, the numbers of dropouts and expulsions far exceeds the number of graduates.
Admittedly, I don't know much about Odyssey House, but New York's Pheonix house, a two year program has a 15% completion rate for the first year, and a 7% completion rate for the second year. Out of this 7%, they claim a 75% success rate. (a 5.25% success rate in real ife).

Most of these programs exist as a part of the criminal justice system. Most of their participants have been coerced, either witth the threat of prison, or in the case of prison TCs, the threat of harder time.

In my opinion, the use of terms like "limitations" and "frustration tolerance" are euphemisms for ability to function in the totalitarian cultures of corporations and government agencies.

I'm really tired of liberals and their "treatment not prison" crap. Treatment, of any kind, should be available to all who actuall want it but coerced treatment backed with government funds is a farce and a fraud, that serves only one purpose; political indoctrination. Without legalization, this will always be the situation.


Pardon my sceptisism

sicntired When ever I see figures like 50% cure for hard core heroin addicts I have to check it out.I read what the doctor said very carefully and I'm sorry but I don't recognize myself in your synopsis of the addict personality.I just read a recent study in which addicts relapsed after as long as 15 years.I know several personally that went clean for years and fell off the wagon.To claim an addict is cured is irresponsible and unethical.I say this after 40 years of heroin and opiate addiction.Like an alcoholic,a heroin addict is always a heroin addict.It would be interesting to go back and see how many of your cured addicts are still doing well.I sincerely hope you find them all well and healthy but I would be very surprised if that were so.I have heard of success stories like yours before and they are invariably short term studies with no follow up.

clean...how long is, long enough?

I wonder about circumstances, where the individual "addict", has remained clean for ...say 30 years. Then at the age of ...say 60 years, picks up again. Could it not be considered a long or successful sobriety? And what case can be made for moderation. Forever is long. Is the only REAL cure death? Life of moderation, to me, is acceptable.


But life, with moderation, is often not attainable, by those few blessed with the misery of addiction! Come live in the real world!

I was on a federal grand Jury

Every drug case that came up that involved no violence by the accused i voted no. I was asked why I voted no when the person obviously was involved. I simply said that the law was unjust and I had a right to vote not guilty. Fuck 'em. most people are sheep or have no backbone.


heroin trial in Boston

I was on the jury for a heroin trial in Boston. The first day I went in I thought of trying to get out of it. I had a good job though, so I would not lose income and I considered it my civic duty to serve. The experience shocked me. The police could not even remember the arrest, as it took so long to finally come to trial. The poor man being tired didn't speak any English and it was unclear if he knew there was heroin being sold in the apartment he was arrested in. There were several people on the jury who wanted to convict him because it was a drug trial. They truly believed anyone who even knew a heroin dealer should go to prison and were ready to convict without hearing the evidence. We got the poor guy off, but it took days of deadlock and arguing.

So much money though

The prison industry makes so much money off drug incarcerated offenders that it is hard to believe it will ever change :(

I am scard

I live with chronic pain and have three unlawfull perscriptions for pot. But I also know I'm being watched. I was wondering if a person can use this film to show a jury for the defence? Because I don't understand why i'm a criminal.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

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