cannabisnews.com: Smarter Punishment Needed

function share_this(num) {
 tit=encodeURIComponent('Smarter Punishment Needed');
 url=encodeURIComponent('http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/24/thread24866.shtml');
 site = new Array(5);
 site[0]='http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u='+url+'&title='+tit;
 site[1]='http://www.stumbleupon.com/submit.php?url='+url+'&title='+tit;
 site[2]='http://digg.com/submit?topic=political_opinion&media=video&url='+url+'&title='+tit;
 site[3]='http://reddit.com/submit?url='+url+'&title='+tit;
 site[4]='http://del.icio.us/post?v=4&noui&jump=close&url='+url+'&title='+tit;
 window.open(site[num],'sharer','toolbar=0,status=0,width=620,height=500');
 return false;
}












††Smarter Punishment Needed

Posted by CN Staff on June 12, 2009 at 08:45:46 PT
By Paul Butler †
Source: Chicago Tribune†

Illinois -- When I was a kid growing up on the South Side, Illinois spent $65 million on prisons annually. It was the 1970s, when getting locked up really meant something. However, in the 1990s, the U.S. experienced the greatest expansion of the prison population in the history of the free world, as the "war on drugs" put hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders behind bars.
Now, for many young men growing up in my 'hood, jail is a rite of passage. "I caught a case," they say, using the hip-hop slang that makes getting arrested sound like coming down with a cold -- a little bit one's fault, but mainly the luck of the draw.Both as a kid who saw his public school classmates go to jail and as a federal prosecutor who later helped put away youths for those same crimes, I learned that none of us will be safe until these young people have enough respect for the justice system to obey the law. We can encourage that respect by being smarter about the way that we use prison. If we reserve prison for dangerous criminals -- people who have committed violent crimes or stolen from others -- we'll be more secure.Alternatives aren't just cheaper; they work better. Prison is the most expensive and least effective way to stop offenses like drug crimes, and it's not just from our wallets that we pay the price of locking up all these people. We also pay with our security.Last month, state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) introduced a bill that would require any lawmaker proposing measures that would lead to an increase in the prison population to provide a fiscal impact statement. The bill does not restrict tougher sentencing laws; it simply states that before politicians increase punishment, they need to know how much it's going to cost Illinois taxpayers. It calls for a cost-benefit analysis, comparing incarceration to less expensive alternatives. This bill could help relieve Illinois taxpayers, who spend more than $1.5 billion every year to provide room and board for the 45,000 adults and 1,400 minors the state locks up -- half of whom are non-violent drug offenders.Criminologists have demonstrated that there's a "tipping point" when so many people are locked up, the streets actually become less safe. This happens because the social organization of neighborhoods has a far greater impact on community safety than any police strategy or prison term. Incarceration breaks up families, destabilizes neighborhoods, creates too many unemployable young men and breeds disrespect for the criminal justice system in the communities that most need its protection.Moreover, it produces young adults that come out of prison angry, violent and more contemptuous of the law than when they went in. That has no doubt contributed to the epidemic of teen killings that plagues Chicago. When we lock up young, non-violent drug offenders with hardened murderers, rapists and robbers it's like sending them to a finishing school for criminals.Mass incarceration has not only made us less safe, it has dramatically changed the way that people think about crime and punishment. Young men expect that at some point they are going to do some time and, statistically, they are correct. The deterrent effect of the criminal law has disappeared and instead has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. From a law-and-order perspective, when citizens begin to think of getting locked up as normal, disaster looms. Welcome to the future -- unless we act quickly to reverse course.The economic crisis presents lawmakers with a unique opportunity to re-examine and reorganize a criminal justice system that has not only been bad for the budget, but bad for public safety in Chicago and in cities across the nation. When New York reduced the number of people in its prisons, its crime rate went down as well. Other states are working to reform their parole systems so that minor violations of probation and parole don't continue to derail former offenders and inflate the prison population. Illinois should join the shift toward a smarter application of punishment for offenses.The bill proposed by Sen. Raoul is a step in the right direction.Paul Butler is a law professor at George Washington University and former federal prosecutor. He is the author of "Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice." Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Paul Butler Published: June 11, 2009Copyright: 2009 Chicago Tribune CompanyContact: ctc-TribLetter Tribune.comWebsite: http://www.chicagotribune.com/URL: http://drugsense.org/url/5HwyM70qCannabisNews Justice Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/justice.shtml

Home †† Comment †† Email †† Register †† Recent Comments †† Help †† 
     
     
     
     





Comment #14 posted by kaptinemo on June 13, 2009 at 05:44:12 PT:
The screamingly obvious
For how many years have reformers been making these same observations? The War on (Some) Drugs has always been wielded as a political and social weapon against those already marginalized in order to keep them that way. One of its' greatest supporters, Tricky Dick, in his taped conversations, made it plain that he used the DrugWar as a bludgeon to beat up on minorities and hippies.Well, the money's gone. We can't afford to lock up people on drug law infractions anymore, or the system won't have the resources to deal with the truly dangerous, such as murderers, rapists, child molesters, etc. (And quite a few white collar criminals could certainly join them, thanks in no small part to the mess they've caused that brought us to this point.)We've been saying this for years, but the news media that stuck its' head in here and other places where this was being said didn't have the courage to state the obvious themselves. Now that the obvious is breathing in their faces, they're talking it up as if they discovered this last night.Well, in the end it won't matter. The price of the DrugWar has become such a liability that pols everywhere have found themselves sitting beside the very 'druggies' they scorned. If they want to keep their cushy (and increasingly rare) jobs, they should listen more attentively, now...
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #13 posted by Hope on June 12, 2009 at 20:56:21 PT
Oh my....
"Bill would reschedule marijuana for medical use, end federal interference in state laws":0)And the Hinchey Provision. And "Lawmakers passed the legislation by a margin large enough to overturn the Republican governor's veto. Rep. Thomas Slater, the bill's sponsor, said House and Senate leaders have promised to set a veto override vote. The exact date hasn't been determined."Do you realize what that is? Besides a bunch of smiley faces? THREE STEPS FORWARD!I thought it was three steps forward and one step back back, thanks to Carcieri. It's THREE STEPS FORWARD!Yup. Pretty good week.:0)
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #12 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 19:34:56 PT
Cheebs1 
I believe they will overide his veto. 
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #11 posted by Cheebs1 on June 12, 2009 at 19:21:10 PT:
He Said "NO"
I can't believe he actually did it. They are just going to set a veto override vote date.http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i9mnrkJu2S7Mly9xuWs4p9_TRkdwD98PCKO80
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #10 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 16:00:50 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
I agree. Thank you Barney Frank!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #9 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on June 12, 2009 at 15:58:59 PT
Contact your US congress person and senators!
Support HR 2835 - The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act!This is the one we've all been waiting for!Thank you Barney Frank!!!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #8 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on June 12, 2009 at 15:51:53 PT
Real Change We Can All Believe In
"Specifically, the Act would change marijuana from a Schedule I drug, classified as having no medical value, to a Schedule II drug, which would recognize marijuana's medical efficacy and create a regulatory framework for the FDA to begin a drug approval process for marijuana. The act would also prevent interference by the federal government in any local or state run medical marijuana program."
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #7 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 11:39:48 PT
Congress Introduces HR 2835
Congress Introduces HR 2835, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection ActBill would reschedule marijuana for medical use, end federal interference in state lawsWASHINGTON - June 12 - In another effort to change federal policy on medical marijuana, Congressional Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the "Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act," HR 2835, late yesterday. The bill, which was co-sponsored by 13 bipartisan Members of Congress at the time of introduction, would change federal policy on medical marijuana in a number of ways. Specifically, the Act would change marijuana from a Schedule I drug, classified as having no medical value, to a Schedule II drug, which would recognize marijuana's medical efficacy and create a regulatory framework for the FDA to begin a drug approval process for marijuana. The act would also prevent interference by the federal government in any local or state run medical marijuana program.Although similar versions of the Act have been introduced in previous Congressional terms, the Obama Administration's willingness to change federal policy on medical marijuana creates a new political context and may facilitate passage of this important legislation. "We are encouraged by the federal government's willingness to address this issue and to bring about a more sensible and humane policy on medical marijuana," said Caren Woodson, Government Affairs Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nationwide advocacy group working with the Obama Administration, Representative Frank and other Members of Congress to change federal policy. "It's time to recognize marijuana's medical efficacy, and to develop a comprehensive plan that will provide access to medical marijuana and protection for the hundreds of thousands of sick Americans that benefit from its use."In addition to rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), HR 2835 would provide protection from the CSA and the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) for qualified patients and caregivers in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Specifically, the act prevents the CSA and FDCA from prohibiting or restricting: (1) a physician from prescribing or recommending marijuana for medical use, (2) an individual from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state, manufacturing, or using marijuana in accordance with their state law, (3) an individual authorized under State law from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state, or manufacturing marijuana on behalf of an authorized patient, or (4) an entity authorized under local or State law to distribute medical marijuana to authorized patients from obtaining, possessing, or distributing marijuana to such authorized patients.The Obama Administration has made repeated statements that it intends to end federal enforcement against medical marijuana, but has yet to provide a detailed plan of implementation. A lack of clarity on this policy change has prompted Congress to take action. In addition to the introduction of Frank's bill yesterday, Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) introduced language Tuesday within the Commerce, Justice and Science Departments (CJS) Appropriations bill seeking clarification on the Administration's policy. "It's imperative that the federal government respect states' rights and stay out of the way of patients with debilitating diseases such as cancer who are using medical marijuana in accordance with state law to alleviate their pain," said Hinchey in a press release issued Tuesday.Further information:
At the time of release the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, HR 2835, was not yet published by the Government Printing Office (GPO), but contains identical language of Rep. Frank's bill introduced last year (HR 5842): http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/HR5842.pdfHR 2835 can be reviewed at the following site once it's published: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.2835: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/06/12-7
[ Post Comment ]

†


Comment #6 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 10:41:17 PT

House Panel Approves Hinchey Provision 

 House Panel Approves Hinchey Provision Requesting Clarification from Obama Administration on Medical Marijuana Policy
  For Immediate Release  
 June 9, 2009   
 Washington, DC - With some uncertainty surrounding the Obama administration's policy on the use of medical marijuana in states that have legalized the drug for that purpose, the House Appropriations Committee today approved a provision authored by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) that calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to report to Congress in writing on the administration's position within 60 days of the bill's enactment. The Hinchey provision was included in the report accompanying the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010. The full House is expected to consider the bill within the next several weeks."I'm very pleased that the House Appropriations Committee today approved a simple, straightforward provision that will provide clarity as to what the Obama administration's precise policy is on medical marijuana," Hinchey said. "I've been greatly encouraged by what President Obama and Attorney General Holder's public statements in support of state's determining their own medical marijuana, but remain concerned about the matter since the federal government has still continued raids in states that permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. This provision will provide Congress with the transparency we need to determine whether any further legislative action is needed. It's imperative that the federal government respect states' rights and stay out of the way of patients with debilitating diseases such as cancer who are using medical marijuana in accordance with state law to alleviate their pain."During the presidential campaign last year, then U.S. Senator-Barack Obama said that he would not use Justice Department resources to raid and prosecute medical marijuana users and prescribers in states where such use is permitted. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder publicly stated that the Department of Justice would follow through on President Obama's position during the campaign and only pursue federal cases against individuals who violate both state and federal marijuana laws. However, one week after the attorney generalís statement on the topic, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) conducted a raid on a medical marijuana clinic in San Francisco, raising questions about the implementation of the attorney generalís stated policy. The DEA has not fully explained the reason for a raid in a state that allows the use of medical marijuana. Thirteen states have adopted laws that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington all have laws allowing the use of marijuana to relieve the intense pain and nausea that accompany some debilitating diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. The Bush administration made it nearly impossible for those 13 states to fully implement their medical marijuana laws. The DEA conducted numerous raids and even prosecuted patients who were using marijuana in accordance with state laws to relieve pain, nausea, and other symptoms caused by a variety of illnesses. Hinchey has offered a measure for several years to protect states' rights and patients by prohibiting the Justice Department from using any funds to prosecute individuals who use medical marijuana in compliance with state law. The measure did not have the support of the full House. The congressman does not plan to offer that measure in light of the Obama administration's previous statement in support of state medical marijuana laws.                   
 
 
 
 
http://www.house.gov/list/press/ny22_hinchey/morenews/060909MedicalMarijuanaAppropriationsReportLanguage.html
[ Post Comment ]


†


Comment #5 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 10:28:59 PT

RevRayGreen 
I agree Nevada is going broke. They went way overboard with the housing situation. 
[ Post Comment ]


†


Comment #4 posted by RevRayGreen on June 12, 2009 at 10:14:01 PT

One thing about Nevada
they are going broke.
[ Post Comment ]


†


Comment #3 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 09:44:38 PT

About Nevada
I don't see anything happening again in Nevada. It is a Republican/Conservative state and they just aren't on board with reform.
[ Post Comment ]


†


Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 09:42:33 PT

Pot Legalization Group Targets Vegas
June 12, 2009URL: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2009/jun/12/pot-legalization-group-targets-vegas/
[ Post Comment ]


†


Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 08:46:36 PT

Just a Comment
I thought of kaptinemo when I was posting this article.
[ Post Comment ]





††Post Comment