Texas Ponders Pot Laws to Save Prison Space 

Texas Ponders Pot Laws to Save Prison Space 
Posted by CN Staff on March 03, 2005 at 09:51:42 PT
By Phil Keating
Source: Fox News Network
Dallas -- Texas spent the past decade earning a tough-on-crime reputation, and Republicans and Democrats alike are now finding ways to maintain it while still making sure to leave space for hard criminals in state prisons. Texas has spent billions of dollars building more facilities, and since the early 1990s has doubled the number of inmates to 155,000 men and women in its 18 prisons. It was part of a national trend to lengthen prison sentences, mandatory minimum punishments and toughen drug laws.
But now, some lawmakers are trying to rewrite crime laws — not to be lenient with criminals but to save money and prison space."I think it's incumbent upon us, though, to spend the next 10 years being smart on crime, as opposed to being tough on crime and dumb on Texas taxpayers," said Texas state Rep. Harold Dutton.Dutton, a Democrat, wants to avoid another costly prison-building binge. His solution: rewrite some sentencing laws, beginning with marijuana. Dutton's bill would dramatically change the punishment for possessing up to 2 ounces of pot — the equivalent of about 50 joints. Instead of going to prison, an offender would get a ticket with a fine. Prison beds would be saved for harder criminals."People that are just causing this system, causing all of us, to be afraid ... that's who we want you to focus it on," Dutton said. "People walking around here with a joint of marijuana ... we ought not be criminalizing that."The Texas House is expected to vote on the bill soon.Republican state lawmaker Pat Haggerty said 2 ounces of pot may be too large to push through the legislature, but he agrees with the concept. He said strong consensus exists to keep first-time drug offenders out of prison, especially since it costs $15,000 a year to house an inmate."This is being tougher on [criminals], by making them go through the programming rather than just serving some short sentence and letting them back on the street in the same condition they were in when they were nabbed," Haggerty said.The "smart on crime" concept would rely even more on drug courts and rehabilitation instead of incarceration. A Southern Methodist University study on Dallas' drug court found that for every $1 in taxpayer money spent on that method, the state saved $9. Newshawk: E_Johnson Source: Fox News Network (US)Author: Phil KeatingPublished: Thursday, March 03, 2005Copyright: 2005 FOX News Network, LLC. Website: foxnewsonline foxnews.comRelated Articles: Joint Resolution's Plea on Pot Penalty Advocates Need Lobby
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 15:44:27 PT
I'm with you on that one too!
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Comment #14 posted by siege on March 03, 2005 at 15:40:34 PT
 Act of 2005" (S3).
Protecting America in the War on Terror Act of 2005" (S3). According to NVIC, this piece of legislation is an "assault on the Constitution"
by Senators Judd Gregg and Tn. Bill Frist. I think the one that called him self (something Frist) is the one and the same whan I ask he has not said any since. “This bill is labeled as a “anti-terror” bill,” said NVIC president and co-founder, Barbara Loe Fisher, “but it is power grab by the federal government and an assault on self-governance and the informed consent ethic.It takes away the freedom of the people to make their voices heard through their elected state representatives and protect themselves from unsafe drugs, such as Celebrex and Vioxx, and unsafe vaccines, such as those that contain high levels of mercury. It gives unprecedented liability protection to the drug industry and broad powers to federal officials to hide the truth from the people about vaccine and prescription drug risks.”
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Comment #13 posted by observer on March 03, 2005 at 15:40:15 PT
I'd Be Happy To Be Wrong...
I won't hold my breath expecting Texas politicans to do the right thing.I love being wrong about things like this. 
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Comment #12 posted by Sukoi on March 03, 2005 at 15:11:02 PT
Go Texas!
I sure hope that this bill as well as H.B. 658 pass for several reasons, one of which this is right in Bush's home state and I recall him saying something like "it will never happen, not in Texas". Well I sure hope that he will be proven wrong!Here are some O.T. articles:Lawmakers Consider Medical Marijuana, Cigarettes, Drug Prescriptions MARIJUANA: LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE POLICE OPPOSE POT ORDINANCES
(Take a look at the forum mentioned in the article, many are quite upset about their meddling with democracy)PUBLIC CONVINCED GOV'T WILL LEGALIZE MARIJUANA: POLL
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Comment #11 posted by Taylor121 on March 03, 2005 at 14:52:25 PT
Spead the word
Spread the word on that Texas committee hearing. If it doesn't make it out, the bill is dead.
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Comment #10 posted by goneposthole on March 03, 2005 at 14:47:05 PT
say it ain't so
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 14:39:42 PT
Thank you. It won't be much longer with over 1500 dead that I saw on the news as a little blip. I really like Lou Dobbs and how he feels. 
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Comment #8 posted by ekim on March 03, 2005 at 14:31:30 PT
Lou Dobbs has section on the Draft
Cnn 6pm est reruns at 11pm
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 13:52:40 PT
NORML: Texas Decriminalization Hearing Tuesday 
WHAT: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill To Receive Hearing Tuesday!WHERE: Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee State Capitol Room E2016 Austin TX 78768-2910WHEN: Tuesday, March 8, 2005 at 2:00 PMThis coming Tuesday, March 8 at 2:00 PM, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 254, which would reduce penalties for possession of marijuana to a civil infraction, similar to a traffic ticket. (See article below.)If you have not done so already, please take a moment today to write your Representative and tell him or her to support House Bill 254. Pre-written letters are available online from NORML at: addition, if your Representative serves on the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, it is vital that you call him or her ASAP, and voice your support for marijuana decriminalization. The committee is expected to vote on this proposal immediately following the hearing.The following Representatives serve on the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee:Representative Terry Keel (R-TX 47th), Chair - (512) 463-0652 Representative Debbie Riddle (R-TX 150th), Vice-Chair - (512) 463-0572 Representative Mary Denny (R-TX 63rd) - (512) 463-0688 Representative Elvira Reyna (R-TX 101st) - (512) 463-0464 Representative Aaron Pena (D-TX 40th) - (512) 463-0426 Representative Terri Hodge (D-TX 100th) - (512) 463-0586 Representative Paul C. Moreno (D-TX 77th) - (512) 463-0638 Representative Juan Escobar (D-TX 43rd) - (512) 463-0666 Representative Richard Raymond (D-TX 42nd) - (512) 463-0558Since this will be a public hearing, if you live in the vicinity of the State Capitol in Austin we encourage you to consider attending the hearing in person. In order for marijuana decriminalization to be taken seriously, Representatives will need to see a large show of support for the bill.To help support NORML's state legislative efforts, please donate today at: you again for your support of NORML's legislative efforts in Texas.Regards,Kris Krane, Associate Director NORML
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 03, 2005 at 13:13:31 PT
You said: Being a billionaire ain't all it's cracked up to be now is it? It is not a 'guilt free' position.I agree with you. When money means using other people then what good is it? 
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Comment #5 posted by goneposthole on March 03, 2005 at 12:58:19 PT
who benefits...
from all of the 'pro bono' work done by the inmates in the prison systems?I wouldn't want any part of that 'money.' Being a billionaire ain't all it's cracked up to be now is it? It is not a 'guilt free' position. Your light won't shine in the halls of Shang-ri-la. The Dalai Lama won't be talkin' your name during the conversation. If that is what it means to be 'rich', somebody has a lot to learn.
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Comment #4 posted by rchandar on March 03, 2005 at 12:21:08 PT:
gawddammit--If the state feels I should be beaten up and sodomized and all that,just for smoking pot, why shouldn't they foot the bill?
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Comment #3 posted by observer on March 03, 2005 at 11:57:49 PT
Peaceful Pot Prisoners Profitable
He said strong consensus exists to keep first-time drug offenders out of prison, especially since it costs $15,000 a year to house an inmate.Only if you do not count the income from the slave's labour whish is held back from him. Alas, we need to face up to the fact that turning peaceful pot smokers into SLAVES is quite PROFITABLE for the police state. It's not pretty.See: (read the part of the report about UNICOR and what Florida's "PRIDE" prison slavery systems Texas bureaucrats are salivating after:Public and private involvementOne promising idea for improving TDCJ's prison industries is the introduction of competition and private-sector management. Florida and the federal prison industry system both provide possible models for restructuring Texas' prison industries. Florida's Prison Rehabilitation Industries and Diversified Enterprises Inc. (PRIDE) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt business that leases and manages the correctional work facilities and programs of the Florida Department of Corrections. PRIDE began in 1981 and assumed control of all Florida correctional work programs by summer 1984. PRIDE employees are not state employees, and PRIDE receives no state appropriations. PRIDE is totally supported by its sales revenue and pays the state 1.5 percent of its gross sales (an average of more than $1 million per year). 
(Where do the other 98.5 percent of the gross sales go then? See? That's money to be made. where does it go? When they say prisoners cost the government X thousands of dollars, they don't count the pot smoker's slave labour which is making someone (UNICOR, PRIDE, etc.) lots of money.
- observer )
PRIDE also donates 15 cents for each dollar of inmate wages to the state's Victim Restitution Fund ($265,000 in fiscal 1995).[28]
(Do they mean government steals an additional 15 percent of the, what, two dollars a day each inmate "earns" and must spend on things like toliet-paper? Where is the "victim" in case of the pot smoker? Lemme guess, for pot smokers, government calls "society" the "victim" and so government takes that 15 percent, also?
- observer )
The federal prison industries operate under the trade name of UNICOR, as a corporation with a six-member board of directors (although its employees are federal employees) and a mandate to support itself through the sale of prison-made products, while providing job training opportunities for inmates.[29] Texas Performance Review Chapter 3, Public Safety and Corrections Issues, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - 
Not that they don't already put pot smokers into slavery, right now.
"In Texas, armed white guards patrol on horseback while the mostly black and Chicano inmates do field work, singing work songs passed down from the days of slavery."144 In Alabama: "A federal judge, U. W. Clemon, last month described jail conditions in Morgan County as 'medieval,' with inmates squeezed into quarters so cramped they resembled a 'slave ship.'"145
Drug War Propaganda, pg.30, 
That's big profits, big money to be made on that labour. Follow the money.Don't want to work as a slave to pay for your "crime" of using cannabis? The goodly godly U.S. Government, which does not engage in "cruel or unusual punishments" (see: Pot TV News Special Abu Ghraib, USA ) has a cell for you. Perhaps in a concrete torture cell like Todd McCormick got, or maybe a little quality-cell-time with a big person who has an even bigger illegal and sadistic sex drive. (See: Stop Prison Rape ) Don't bother to file a complaint: you'll only get it worse. That's what prison is all about in police states. That's justice in your big, fat police state, the U.S.A. I won't hold my breath expecting Texas politicans to do the right thing. It seems to be in their vested interest to grease their own palms on the back of pot smokers, who (especially when not white) make quite acceptable slaves in the godly Bible belt. 
now in print: Drug War Propaganda
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Comment #2 posted by Taylor121 on March 03, 2005 at 10:58:45 PT
It's not 2 ounces, it's one
Fox needs to get it right. It would make the penalty of one ounce or less a fine only offense, all other offenses would remain static.Send a letter now!:
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Comment #1 posted by goneposthole on March 03, 2005 at 10:22:28 PT
fifteen grand a year to house an inmate
just think, if Texas were to support legislation to tax marijuana sales, that inmate would be contributing to the tax coffers of the state of Texas. The inmate wouldn't be an inmate, but a productive member of society. that's drug peace, too. back to reality, whatever that is.
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