Civil Liberties & Justice 

Civil Liberties & Justice 
Posted by FoM on February 04, 2000 at 11:33:09 PT
Source: Orange County Register
In an election year in which no major-party candidate seems interested in liberty and limited government as a major priority, it is all the more crucial to maintain and explain the importance of civil liberties, justice and respect by the government for the rights of citizens. Whether or not we have an impact on any of the candidates, the Register will continue to explain the importance of civil liberties to the building of a civil society, focusing on a few issues in 2000 that continue to demand attention, while being open to expansion of the agenda. 
 Three Strikes, Prison Reform: California's 'Three Strikes' law remains the most punitive such law in America and continues to put people in jail for long periods with little or no justification. The injustice and expense to taxpayers will continue to mount. An initiative campaign to change the law so it applies only to violent crimes is under way. We will report on it and on other reform efforts. With the 'strikes" law and other recent laws, California now imprisons a higher proportion of its population than any other jurisdiction on Earth. With the rapid expansion of the prison system and the growing political power of the prison guards' union, frequent abuses of prisoners have occurred, including inattention to medical problems. We will continue to call for reform and put forward alternatives to incarceration as superior ways to carry out the ongoing struggle against crime and violence. Man Facing '3 Strikes' Sentence Found Dead Medical Marijuana: Although California voters passed Prop. 215, allowing patients with recommendations from a doctor to possess, cultivate and use marijuana, implementation remains spotty. Some police departments still ignore the new law, treating patients as they would treat recreational users. Gov. Davis' quiet opposition prevented the passage of legislation in Sacramento that, while less than perfect, would have created reasonably intelligible rules that would have protected most patients and given law enforcement officers some guidance. Former gubernatorial candidate Steve Kubby, whose trial on marijuana charges is scheduled for February in Placer County, and other patients have tried to get Orange County officials to set protocols and guidelines. San Francisco has set up an ID-card system. We'll follow the trials and compare and contrast various implementation plans. We'll pay attention to initiatives in other states to medicalize marijuana for ill people. And we'll follow efforts at the federal level to 'reschedule' marijuana so it can be prescribed legally (as cocaine and morphine can) if a licensed doctor deems it efficacious. Lockyer Won't Intervene in Kubby Case The Drug War: Other aspects of the war on drugs will demand attention. A major military commitment to the ongoing civil war in Colombia, justified in part by the supposed necessity of carrying the war on drugs to supplying countries, is likely this year. Congressional efforts to reform 'asset forfeiture' laws, which allow authorities to seize property even if no criminal charges have been filed, are possible. More examples of police corruption related to the war on drugs are virtually inevitable. Rumors abound that more elected officials, in the wake of New Mexico Republican Gov. Gary Johnson's bold questions about the war on drugs, are ready to go public. New Strategy is Needed To Fight Drug War  U.S. Senate Should Pass Forfeiture Reform Bill Criminal Justice: The release of Dwayne McKinney after 19 years in custody for a murder he didn't commit and the ongoing release of prisoners wrongly imprisoned due to malfeasance and corruption in the LAPD's Rampart Division highlight an obvious fact: Our criminal justice system is less than perfect. We'll try to sort out which abuses are due to human error and which are the result of systemic problems and recommend solutions, pointing out that the proper goal of the system is justice, not successful prosecutions or convictions. Among the issues worthy of attention: the preponderance of former prosecutors among judges and the contributions the drug war makes to systemic corruption.  Court To Clarify Criminal Appeals February 4, 2000Please send comments to: ocregister Copyright 1999 The Orange County Register
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