In mid October I shall be travelling to several cities with Our America Initiaive, giving talks about over criminalization, one of many serious faults in our criminal justice system. I shall mention this incident.
Sure, alcohol is THE most dangerous drug, and we want to keep underage youngsters from drinking, but do we really need to ruin so many lives by giving them a criminal record? I think not.
Excerpts from the Article:
NEWARK, Del. (WPVI) — 180 people including University of Delaware students were arrested for underage drinking at a party in Newark. It happened around 4 p.m. Saturday on the 300 block of East Park Place. Officers from Newark police were patrolling the area and noticed a party on the block.
Police say alcohol was seen being freely distributed to the guests, many of which appeared to be under the age of 21. Due to those observances, police obtained a warrant to search the home. 180 people, including two juveniles, were arrested for consumption of alcohol.
Police say one person was found unresponsive inside of the home and had to be transported to Christiana Emergency Room for an alcohol overdose. The person has been treated and released.
Authorities say the residents of the home have been identified. They are known to have a connection to unsanctioned fraternity APES, police say.
Charges are pending for these residents.
All those arrested who are students at the University of Delaware were referred to the UD Office of Student Conduct.
Letter to the Editor – Over Criminalization – Criminal Students – 9/21/16
I see that police in Newark, DE, recently arrested 180 people, including many University of Delaware students, for underage drinking. Was this really wise or necessary? In mid October I shall be travelling to several cities, on behalf of Our America Initiative, giving talks about over criminalization, and I shall mention this incident.
Sure, alcohol is THE most dangerous drug, and we want to keep underage youngsters from drinking, but do we really need to ruin so many lives by giving them a criminal record? I think not. Do we really want to give these kids a criminal record, with all of the stigmas and problems which follow? Surely the police could have broken up the party and issued a stern warning that further such activity would result in arrests, before charging in with warrants and making arrests.
I am reminded of the time when I was a prosecutor, and I was assigned a case in which the State Police had charged several Wesley College students with buying or possessing marijuana. After talking with the Dean and with the students, I decided that it would do more harm than good to prosecute those students. They had been disciplined by the school, their parents were furious with them, and the students were “scared “s#!tless” about the charges. I dropped all charges and a couple of the cops involved were annoyed, but I have no doubt it was the best thing to do.
I suggest that all police should use more restraint and better judgement before arresting people just because they can.
Of course there are many examples of over criminalization, the most egregious of which is our “war on drugs” which punishes addicts, people who need treatment, not prison. But the scale of this incident – 180 young people arrested – prompts this letter. I hope police will heed its suggestions.
Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, Founder of Citizens for Criminal Justice, Dover, DE 302-423-4067.
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