Heroin Epidemic Increasingly Seeps Into Public View – The New York Times

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In Philadelphia last spring, a man riding a city bus at rush hour injected heroin into his hand, in full view of other passengers, including one who captured the scene on video.From Our AdvertisersIn Cincinnati, a woman died in January after she and her husband overdosed in their baby’s room at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The husband was found unconscious with a gun in his pocket, a syringe in his arm and needles strewn around the sink.Here in Cambridge a few years ago, after several people overdosed in the bathrooms of a historic church, church officials reluctantly closed the bathrooms to the public.

Source: Heroin Epidemic Increasingly Seeps Into Public View – The New York Times

If we legalize and regulate addictive drugs, much of these enormous profits from the illegal drug business would decrease dramatically. When alcohol was re-legalized after prohibition, armed gangs were disbanded and killings decreased greatly. The quality of the alcohol improved with regulation and quality controls.

Many economists, at least privately, admit that we should legalize addictive drugs to ameliorate the negative effects. Herbert Stein and Milton Friedman are two famous right of center economists who have called for legalization.

Legalization would allow us to win the war on illegal drug trafficking, and it is probably the only way to win the war on drug trafficking. Decriminalization would be an immediate place to begin, to get tens of thousands of petty drug users and sellers out of our jails.

We have a heroin epidemic in New England and the rest of the country right now. Some of the heroin is bad, and kills people outright. If heroin was legal and regulated, doses would be unhealthy for you, but wouldn’t stop your heart. Countless young people, including my son Austin, would be alive after experimenting with the drug. It is the illegality of these drugs that make them unregulated. Bad batches kill people, like my son Austin. He slid into drug dealing primarily because of the extraordinary profits created by the fact that the market was illegal. The huge illegal profits are destabilizing whole countries, starting with police forces, prosecutors and judges.Today politicians in some South American countries are either bought or intimidated into working for cartels.

Cut Sentences for Low-Level Drug Crimes

A critical fix Congress could make right now would be to change the law so that a person’s sentence is determined by his role in a drug operation, and not by the entire amount of drugs found in that operation, which is a poor measure of culpability.

One version of the sentencing reform legislation, introduced in the House by Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and Robert Scott, Democrat of Virginia, would have addressed this issue squarely by applying many mandatory minimum sentences only to the leaders of a drug organization. But that smart idea was heavily watered down in the bills passed by the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in recent days. Congress should resurrect this sensible provision, which would go a long way toward bringing some basic fairness and rationality back into the nation’s horribly skewed drug laws.”

Making a real dent in the federal prison population will require broader reforms than what Congress is currently considering.

Source: Cut Sentences for Low-Level Drug Crimes

Why the Police Want Prison Reform Alternatives to arrests and overly severe sentences. nytimes.com|By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Bravo NY Times for a fine editorial.
All these suggestions are excellent. I would like the country to go farther, and at least decriminalize, if not legalize all addictive substances. Besides getting petty user and dealer out of jail, and keeping them from jail in the first place, it would stop the destabilization of governments around the world because of the power of narco gangsters, whose financial and military power allow them to destroy police forces and governments.
The US would still want a Marshall plan to offer help to legal addicts, programs, jobs, medical help, but all these investments would be far less than the 50 billion or whatever it is we spend on the drug wars every year, that is just money down the drain.The only incarcerable offence I would leave from non-violent drug users and dealers, would be if a legal addict encourabed or helped an non addict to become one. Pushing the addictive substances on any non addict would be punishable.

Alternatives to arrests and overly severe sentences can reduce crime and restore better relations between law enforcement and local communities.

The Refugees at Our Door We are paying Mexico to keep people from reaching our border, people who are fleeing Central American violence. nytimes.com|By Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario: “IN the past 15 months, at the request of President Obama, Mexico has carried out a ferocious crackdown on refugees fleeing violence in Central America. The United States has given Mexico tens of millions of dollars for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 to stop these migrants from reaching the United States border to claim asylum.

Essentially the United States has outsourced a refugee problem to Mexico that is similar to the refugee crisis now roiling Europe.

“The U.S. government is sponsoring the hunting of migrants in Mexico to prevent them from reaching the U.S.,” says Christopher Galeano, who spent last summer researching what’s happening in Mexico for human rights groups there. “It is forcing them to go back to El Salvador, Honduras, to their deaths.” ”

This Op-Ed describes a nightmare. One of the keys to bringing sanity to Central America, would be the decriminalization of illegal drugs in the USA, to take away the excessive incomes of the narco-terroists gansters that are terrorizing the region, and destabilizing nations.

We are paying Mexico to keep people from reaching our border, people who are fleeing Central American violence.
nytimes.com|By Sonia Nazario

Black anti-crime activism in the ’60s and ’70s helped pave the way for our current system of draconian drug laws and mass incarceration. nytimes.com|By Michael Javen Fortner

There were many good comments after this piece, including: John Graubard New York 5 hours ago

“The history of “law enforcement” in Black neighborhoods has gone through several iterations, none of them good.

Up until about 1960 the policy was basically for the police to (a) close their eyes to low-level criminal activity there, (b) act as an enforcement arm for white-controlled organized crime by preventing local competition, and (c) strictly enforce the laws when a Black man committed a crime outside the Ghetto. (For those of us who can remember, it was as if a wall existed on East 96th Street, white to the south, Black to the north.)

Then we had the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The first was for civil commitment, but when that did not work we had the punitive laws that basically put everyone involved away for a long, long time.

Then came the “broken windows policy” and stop-and-frisk, which did get some career criminals off the street, but also fed into the perception, whether or not true, of a New Jim Crow through the unequal enforcement of the laws.

What we need is something simple – fair, reasonable and equal enforcement of the law, along with decriminalization of simple drug possession. Of course, unfortunately, that has never been tried.”


Black anti-crime activism in the ’60s and ’70s helped pave the way for our current system of draconian drug laws and mass incarceration.
nytimes.com|By Michael Javen Fortner

How to Lock Up Fewer People – NYT

“For the same conduct, we impose sentences on average twice as long as those the British impose, four times longer than the Dutch, and five to 10 times longer than the French. One of every nine people in prison in the United States is serving a life sentence. And some states have also radically restricted parole at the back end. As a result, many inmates are held long past the time they might pose any threat to public safety.

Offenders “age out” of crime — so the 25-year-old who commits an armed robbery generally poses much less risk to public safety by the age of 35 or 40. Yet nearly 250,000 inmates today are over 50. Every year we keep older offenders in prison produces diminishing returns for public safety. For years, states have been radically restricting parole; we need to make it more readily available. And by eliminating unnecessary parole conditions for low-risk offenders, we can conserve resources to provide appropriate community-based programming and supervision to higher-risk parolees.”

Everyone agrees on ending mass incarceration, but the scale of the task is huge.
nytimes.com|By Marc Mauer and David Cole

the War on Drugs has corrupted our society, more evidence.

What follows are reactions to the editorial in the NYT, Feds Gone Wild, which you will find under the graphic below.

Michael S , a recommended commenter, writes that the War on Drugs has corrupted our society. There is lots of evidence to support his statement. The next step, is to end the failed War on Drugs, by decriminalizing and legalizing all the addictive drugs, while regulating and taxing their commerce, and offering Norwegian Prison System style benefits for recovery to all drug addicts. Before this grand solution, or panacea occurs, perhaps our security agents should take their sex partners abroad, so they don’t have the temptation of using foreign prostitutes, who might be foreign agents.

Law enforcement officers posted abroad need strong, unequivocal guidance from their agencies’ leaders about sexual misconduct.

NYT: The Detroit police are rounding up the scrappers.

The Detroit police are rounding up the scrappers. It is necessary but heartbreaking. A huge national jobs program would have been helpful to all kinds of people. A beautifully written report by John Eligon.

Detroit has tried to crack down on the theft of metal, and for a 62-year-old homeless man, that has meant a deeper investigation into his arrest at an industrial scrapyard.
nytimes.com|By JOHN ELIGON

New Haven Register, Ed Stannard:”Initiative seeks to end ‘mass incarcertation'”

From New Haven Register 3/4/15, Ed Stannard: “John S. Santa has been successful in the fuel oil and energy business, but his real passion is trying to reduce the population of nonviolent offenders in the state’s correctional system and to help those who are released into a society that turns its back on ex-offenders.

Santa and the Rev. Marilyn B. Kendrix, associate pastor of Church of the Redeemer, United Church of Christ, met with the New Haven Register’s editorial board Tuesday as members of the Malta Justice Initiative, which is, among other things, supporting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s “Second Chance Society” proposals to reduce the human and financial costs of the state’s criminal justice system.

The group has met with 45 groups, such as civic clubs and churches, and found ignorance about the extent of the issue.

“They didn’t know our incarceration rate was nine times that of Germany per 100,000,” Santa said. “They didn’t know that in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, in the 1990s, we finished a new prison every two weeks. … When they found out what they’re paying for that, they weren’t very happy. And when they further found out what the result was, and that was that six out of 10 people having been incarcerated are back in ( prison ) within three years, they were very disappointed and they wanted to do something.” ”

INITIATIVE SEEKS TO END ‘MASS INCARCERATION’ John S. Santa has been successful in the fuel oil and energy business, but his real passion is trying to reduce the population of nonviolent offenders in the state’s…

NYT: “A Chilling Portrait of Ferguson”

NYT editorial on Ferguson, Missouri: “The arrests and fines of blacks were driven to some extent by the fact that Ferguson’s budget relies partly on fines and fees; city officials routinely urged the Police Department to generate more revenue through ticket writing. In 2013, for instance, the city finance director wrote: “Court fees are anticipated to rise about 7.5 percent. I did ask the chief if he thought the P.D. could deliver 10 percent increase. He indicated they could try.”

But budget needs could not explain, let alone justify, the pattern of racism. They merely combined with deep-seated biases throughout Ferguson’s power structure to entrap the city’s black community in a hellish cycle of arrests for minor offenses, fines they could not pay, to crippling financial penalties, loss of drivers licenses, and jail time. All of that meant lost jobs and eviction.”

The Missouri town must move far more aggressively to correct its dangerous problem of entrenched racism.