This is total B S because there is no way to determine that. Current tests show THC in one’s system, and because traces of that THC may linger for a month after having any effect on behavior/reaction time, it is no proof whatsoever that one was under the influence at the time of the accident!
Did the alcohol industry pay for that billboard, disguised as “Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy”?! They [and “big pharma”] have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to try to block pot legalization. This is the 2017 version of “Reefer Madness”, and too many folks are swallowing it!
And read Inside big pharma’s fight to block recreational marijuana to see that in one state alone [Arizona!] one drug company spent $500,000 to try to block pot!
Excerpt: “In August, the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics also cited concerns for child safety when, with a $500,000 contribution, it became the largest donor to Arizona’s anti-legalization drive. But their stated concerns have raised a few eyebrows across the state. Insys manufactures Subsys, a prescription painkiller derived from fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.”
C’mon now people, “give me a break!” kra
GOOD NEWS. 12/14/17
I spent most of the morning at hearings of the Board of Pardons. Long enough to say a few words on behalf of inmate Joe Walls, whom I met in prison, greet a few lawyer friends, meet others, hear about 30 presentations and hear the Board rule on about 50 applications for Pardons and for Commutations.
They recommended that the Governor grant Joe Walls’ Application for early release. In Delaware, like 47 other states, the Board makes a recommendation and then the final decision is up to the governor.
But more significantly, the Board GRANTED about 3/4 of all applications I heard. They did this even over the opposition from the A G’s representative in some cases. This really is amazing. They never would have done this 2, 3, 4, or 5 years ago. The questions they asked, the comments they made, and the decisions they made, all show that they are starting to realize that the old “deny”, deny”, “deny” does no good and does not work, and that people who are worthy deserve a second chance. We ARE making a difference! 🙂
I shall be writing an Op Ed piece to send out soon, praising them for their flexibility, common sense, and enlightenment.
My discussions with some lawyers and other officials in attendance showed that they too are having “an attitude adjustment” in the right direction!
This reminds us that women are the fastest growing prison population. Most are there for victimless crimes, like addiction and prostitution. I don’ think that is justice nor a wise use of our resources (locking them up at a cost or about $40,000 per person per year), when they can be treated for about 1/3 the cost! READ Crime Prevention Bill
With the injustice here so obvious, why is this happening? I can tell you why: 1. Money, and 2. Stupidity. Read articles on our website explaining both.
Read other articles on our website about how this cruelty punishes their children. Having a parent in prison is even more traumatizing for kids than divorce!
This is institutionalized “violence against women”!
Excerpts from the Article:
Considering our nation’s merciless criminal justice policies, it comes as no surprise that the United States has the largest prison population and highest incarceration rate in the world. What you may not know, however, is that women are a fast growing demographic of the prison population. There are currently 219,000 women — mostly mothers — behind bars in our nation’s overlapping criminal justice systems, according to a new report released last week by the Prison Policy Initiative and the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice. To put that in perspective: Only five percent of the world’s female population lives in the U.S., yet nearly one-third of all the female prisoners in the entire world are here in the United States.
Nationwide, the criminal justice system is failing communities, hurting the economy, and destroying families — and putting women and mothers disproportionately behind bars for drug and property crimes. We’ve narrowed down some of the most horrific impacts the United States’ culture of incarceration has on women and mothers:
Many states still shackle women during labor and delivery. You read that right. Some women are shackled while being transferred to the hospital and even in their beds while giving birth, making labor and childbirth all the more challenging. Even in states where anti-shackling laws have been put in place, this inhumane practice continues to occur all too often.
Women are separated from their children. Eighty percent of women in jails are mothers. Most of them are primary caretakers of their children. Excessive incarceration hurts innocent children the most, causing them to experience severe feelings of isolation and trauma. And, since the criminal justice system disproportionately locks up people of color, children of color also disproportionately suffer. As a society, we should know better than this. Period.
Economic impact. This country’s pay gap problem — the yawning gap between the wages of Black women and white men — can have especially onerous implications in the criminal justice system. Economically disadvantaged Black women have fewer resources to make bail, causing them to wind up behind bars for far too long, even for crimes they’ve only been charged with and often are not found guilty of.
Sixty percent of women in jail, according to the ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign and the Prison Policy Initiative, have not been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial. That means that poor people are automatically criminalized more often and for longer periods of time. This extra time in jail can lead to a seemingly never-ending downward financial spiral. Defendants can lose their jobs, along with access to benefits and even their housing. In short, incarcerating a woman who is poor will only make her poorer.
Too many women in prison are there for drug offenses. Twenty-five percent of the women in state prisons are serving nonviolent convictions related to drugs. Strict penalties designed to combat the distribution of illegal drugs have done little to stem the drug trade. Instead, these overly harsh penalties have swept up people experiencing challenges related to drug addiction into an ever-expanding criminal justice system. These folks need treatment and counseling, not jail time.
We must divest from mass incarceration and invest in our families and children instead.
We shall see what comes from the investigation as to whether the shooting was justified. Too many police shootings have not been. I just loved the one (that officer finally was sentenced to 20 years) where the officer said he feared for his life as he shot the unarmed black man who was running away from him.
In too many of these cases we see that a young teen was running the streets at 1, 2, or 3 A M! WHERE the hell are the parents?! Surely they deserve some responsibility. Perhaps one or both were in prison. Though subtle, one of the most damaging and lasting consequences of our insane mass incarceration criminal justice system is that millions of children have been left to grow up without parental guidance because Mom, Dad, or both were in prison. Judges never think of that when they send “down the river” nonviolent offenders, like addicts (who need treatment, not prison) and many others. The should; the cost to society is enormous, and to some children, deadly.
On Saturday afternoon, the intersection of Kenton Road and Fieldstone Court in Dover was quiet, save for the falling snow. Hours earlier, around 3 a.m., it was the site of a police shootout that left a 16-year-old male suspect dead. Delaware State Police spokesman Master Cpl. Michael Austin said the initial investigation determined that a trooper assigned to Troop 3 in Camden, made a the initial traffic stop near the intersection. The vehicle was a Saturn sedan with three passengers: an 18-year-old driver, 16-year-old front seat passenger and a 15-year-old back seat passenger.
Cpl. Austin said the trooper approached the vehicle, at which time the front seat passenger displayed a weapon and an exchange of gunfire ensued. The 16-year-old male was shot during the exchange, and died from his injuries after being transported to an area hospital.
The driver sustained a gunshot wound to his leg and was treated and later released from the hospital. The back seat passenger was uninjured in the incident. The trooper was also uninjured.
Cpl. Austin noted that a hand gun was recovered from the vehicle.
A Delaware State Police Homicide Unit investigation is ongoing. Police officials declined to comment further on the incident and said updates with more details will be released as they become available.
A TALE OF TWO DRUG WARS It seems compassion is an effective drug deterrent. Too bad there wasn’t any during the crack epidemic. – Sessions – kra
Not news to me, but we need to make it news for the idiot “tough on crime” politicians who cannot see that the “war on drugs” is the most costly, catastrophic, failed policy in American history!
This article also reminds us that tRump and Sessions are a disaster for the new approaches we need to handle drugs and addicts.
Excerpts from the Article:
More than 30 years after Congress established new mandatory minimums for illegal drugs with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, it seems America’s drug crisis has only gotten worse. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published last month showed that the rate of death from overdose over the last quarter of 2016 in the United States had exploded to 20.6 per 100,000 people, topping the previous record of 19.1 per 100,000 people seen during the preceding quarter, and a full 20 percent increase over the 16 per 100,000 overdose rate Americans experienced during the fourth quarter of 2015. And, according to government data, synthetic opioids (like fentanyl) surpassed legal prescription painkillers and illicit narcotics like heroin in 2016 as the primary source of drug overdose deaths.
The rise in opioid overdoses doesn’t just underscore the scourge of the American opioid epidemic, but also circumscribes a troubling trend in America’s current public health approach to controlled substances: According to new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, for the first time, the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths among non-Hispanic white Americans is comparable to the rate of cocaine-related overdose deaths among African Americans. But while opioid users have been met with government-funded policy initiatives, cocaine users are still often treated as anecdotal boogeymen by a White House that’s made law and order a major agenda point.
The public-health response to the opioid epidemic has proven a stark contrast to the stringent mandatory minimums that emerged from the law-and-order wave of the ’90s. The National Council of State Legislatures boasts that 40 states and D.C. have adopted “Good Samaritan” measures that offer immunity from arrest “when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention.” There’s evidence that approach is working: One year after announcing that it would no longer arrest or charge opioid addicts, the police department of Gloucester, Massachusetts, reported that drug-related crimes dropped 27 percent while overdoses fell by 80 percent. Gloucester’s strategy is quickly becoming a model for other cities across the country.
It seems compassion, along with a healthy dose of suboxone, can help the ready and willing shrug off substance abuse. In New Hampshire—the epicenter of the modern opioid epidemic—a majority of local police chiefs reportedly agree that “medical professionals, not law enforcement, are in the best position to handle” drug addiction and overdoses, with law enforcement “unsuccessful in reducing the drug problem overall,” according to a survey conducted by Keene State College. In the intervening years, law enforcement agencies have banded together with their colleagues in neighboring Massachusetts communities (like Gloucester) to clamp down on traffickers without perpetuating a cycle of destitution and crime among addicts.
But the open arms approach isn’t just about treatment; it’s about stigma too. Groups, a network of opioid addiction clinics in five states that treats addicts through a combination of “community, fellowship, and buprenorphine,” found that it received “total engagement” from local lawmakers and police departments when it opened its first clinics in New Hampshire. “It was through repeated contact with patients and people who had just been labeled by society as ‘drug abusers’ or ‘people with a problem,'” Groups co-founder Jeff DeFlavio tells Pacific Standard. “But repeated contact in a community setting showed that so many of these addicts are completely normal people who had a series of less-than-ideal events unfold in their life that led to this. You recognize that there is absolutely nothing bad or wrong with these people. They just have a problem they’re seeking help for.”
Since the Rockefeller drug laws of the 1970s initiated the legislative genesis of mandatory minimums, the U.S. government has spent almost a half-century criminalizing an entire subset of the population—and, despite the lessons learned in modern opioid treatment, the federal approach to drug abuse reflects those tired racial elements. In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” in drug cases—in other words, low-level drug offenses, like marijuana. (Sessions also helped nix a 2016 bill to ease sentencing for pot on the federal level, according to the Los Angeles Times.) And while President Donald Trump did manage to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency in late October, the president isn’t as hot on tackling that particular drug issue as Sessions is on “street” drugs like marijuana and cocaine. The law-and-order mantra that catapulted Trump to the presidency is built on the coded racial logic of 30-year-old drug laws; it isn’t just visibly unjust, but measurably ineffective.
“I saw the war on drugs up close, and let me tell you, the war on drugs was an abject failure,” Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) said in response to Sessions’ mandatory minimum rallying cry in May. “It offered taxpayers a bad return on investment, it was bad for public safety, it was bad for budgets and our economy, and it was bad for people of color and those struggling to make ends meet.”
CEO Of Insys Therapeutics Arrested and Charged with Racketeering And Bribery Of Doctors Selling Dangerous Opiate
Our “war on drugs” is such a pathetic calamity. READ The Power of Advertising – Win the “War on Drugs” AND How the “War on Drugs” has Destroyed Justice! WHEN will government officials do what actually saves lives?!!
Meanwhile, these scumbags are getting what they deserve. But like almost every other drug arrest, it won’t solve the problem. READ the two articles above! Whether it is the guy on the corner selling drugs or sophisticated scammers like these, we CANNOT solve the problem with arrests! You want to argue about it? ….. shit, we’ve been arresting people on this for 45 years now, and look where we are = awash with heroin!
Excerpts from the Article:
John Kapoor, 74, board chairman of Akorn Pharmaceuticals and CEO of Insys Therapeutics Inc. and several others have been indicted and charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors to prescribe his company’s opioid painkiller Subsys, The Chicago Tribune reported. Kapoor is being charged with RICO conspiracy, as well as other felonies, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law in a larger conspiracy.
Last December, six other Insys executives were indicted on federal charges in Boston in connection with the alleged scheme.
Others indicted according to a DOJ press release include six former executives of Insys Therapeutics – Michael L. Babich, 40, of Scottsdale, Ariz., former CEO and President of the company; Alec Burlakoff, 42, of Charlotte, N.C., former Vice President of Sales; Richard M. Simon, 46, of Seal Beach, Calif., former National Director of Sales; former Regional Sales Directors Sunrise Lee, 36, of Bryant City, Mich., and Joseph A. Rowan, 43, of Panama City, Fla.; and former Vice President of Managed Markets, Michael J. Gurry, 53, of Scottsdale, Ariz. The release says they all “conspired to bribe practitioners in various states, many of whom operated pain clinics, in order to get them to prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication.”
Additionally, prosecutors say that they all conspired to mislead and defraud health insurers that were reluctant to approve payments for the drug when it was prescribed for non-cancer patients who it wasn’t authorized to be sold to.
Fentanyl is 80 times more potent than morphine. Subsys was formulated as a sublingual spray so the drug would move rapidly into the bloodstream. The Food and Drug Administration okayed the drug use for severe cancer patients, but prosecutors say Insys marketed Subsys to patients who didn’t have cancer, lying to insurance companies and paying off doctors with exorbitant payouts.
Kapoor claims he is innocent and will be vindicated after the trial. “I am confident that I have committed no crimes and believe I will be fully vindicated after trial,” he said in a letter to shareholders, adding that, throughout his long career, he had focused on “innovation, creating jobs, and advancing patient care.” Kapoor further told Forbes magazine last year that his involvement is solely as an investor in the drug and nothing more.
But prosecutors disagree that he is innocent, citing two times that the investor was involved with lucrative activities within the company.
On September 17, 2012, prosecutors say, Kapoor was blind-copied on an email from Burlakoff encouraging sales reps to take “a calculated risk” by paying doctors who prescribe a lot of fentanyl products speaking fees; the allegation is that the doctors then write prescriptions worth even more than they were paid. That December, prosecutors say, Babich, Burlakoff, and other executives created a presentation for Kapoor showing the “return-on-investment” for speaker fees by doctors. If Insys didn’t so much as double its investment, the doctor was marked as not being worthy of paying.
In 2015, 33,091 people died from opioid overdose, while 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids, according to the most recent statistics available from the Department of Health and Human Services. Drug deaths involving fentanyl increased nearly 600 percent from 2014 to 2016, The Washington Post reported. There were 582 fatal overdoses linked to the synthetic drug in 2014. Last year, the number jumped to 3,946.
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Another tragic consequence of prosecutors ignoring crimes committed by prison staff. We need many more prosecutions like this one. Crack down and hit them hard, sending a clear message that such crimes will not be tolerated.
Here we see 5,000 cell phones found in one jail in one year. How many people have died or become addicted because inmates use cell phones to run meth labs, murder witnesses, etc.? FAR too many, the guards who smuggle in those phones are to blame!
Excerpts from the Article:
About 130 people have been arrested following a joint two-year investigation by the FBI and the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC). Indictments for 75 of the arrestees were announced in September 2015; another 46 indictments, all involving current or former prison employees, were reported in February 2016. [See: PLN, March 2017, p.38].
Known as “Operation Ghost Guard,” the investigation targeted contraband in GDOC facilities and crimes perpetuated by prisoners through cell phones and outside accomplices. “The indictments allege that inmates managed and directed a number of fraud schemes that victimized citizens from across the country from within the Georgia prison system using contraband cell phones,” said John A. Horn, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
Low-paid guards and other prison staff smuggle the phones for a price, despite the risk that they could face prosecution and end up behind bars themselves. Prisoners’ friends and family members throw packages over prison fences. And increasingly there are hard-to-detect drones making contraband drops.
“During the first six months of this year, more than 35 drones have been spotted and/or confiscated. GDOC considers drones a serious threat to the safe and secure operations of our facilities,” she added. To combat these smuggling tactics, the GDOC has installed infrared cameras to detect people approaching fences, where they might throw packages over. It is also erecting 40-foot nets – much like the screens that protect baseball fans from fly balls – to stop drone deliveries. Additionally, state prison officials have spent $2.25 million at three facilities to install systems that intercept cell phone signals and quickly drain phone batteries. But prisoners can still find areas where the blocking system doesn’t reach.
Technology exists that would allow prison officials to jam cell phone signals on a large scale, so even if phones are smuggled in they wouldn’t work. But authorities have been hampered by a longstanding ban on the jamming technology by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as it could also affect homes and businesses located near prisons.
Clay Nix, deputy director of the GDOC’s Office of Professional Standards, said some prisoners have boasted of making $5,000 to $10,000 in a day by selling contraband cell phones, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs.
The indictments announced by Horn’s office between September 2015 and February 2016 charged guards, prisoners and civilians with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, bribery, smuggling contraband and extortion.
Further, indictments were issued for guards and prisoners at Autry State Prison, Baldwin State Prison, Dooly State Prison, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, Macon State Prison, Pulaski State Prison and the GEO Group-owned Riverbend Correctional Facility.
The initial investigation centered on Autry State Prison, a medium-security facility that houses about 1,700 prisoners. But federal authorities said later in 2016 that the investigation had spread with the arrests of dozens of corrections employees who allegedly smuggled contraband into other state prisons and accepted bribes to protect drug deals that were part of a federal undercover operation. The total number of arrests eventually reached around 130.
Of the 51 initial arrests at Autry State Prison, 32 cases remained open as of June 2017. Seven of the 15 guards pleaded guilty, with five being placed on probation and two receiving prison terms up to 18 months. Seven of the 19 prisoners and former prisoners pleaded guilty or were convicted. One parolee, Reggie Perkins, 36, was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in federal prison on August 22, 2016, after authorities said he admitted to laundering $1 million in illegal proceeds from a fraud scheme run from state prisons.
By August 2017, all of the 46 GDOC guards who were indicted in February 2016 had been sentenced; all except two received federal prison terms, which ranged from 18 to 114 months. The last guard to be sentenced, Tramaine Tucker, who had been employed at GEO Group’s Riverbend Correctional Facility, received five years in prison.
“It’s troubling that so many officers from state correctional institutions across Georgia were willing to sell their badges for personal payoffs from purported drug dealers,” said U.S. Attorney Horn.
Despite the arrests and convictions, prison officials acknowledge that the use of smart phones and other technology by prisoners and their outside accomplices is a game of “cat and mouse” – one they are not yet winning. From January to August 2017, GDOC officials seized nearly 5,000 contraband cell phones.
This is THE best source for all the marijuana news!
It includes scores of articles, covering:
Health and Sciencd
This week I have no time to highlight any articles, though I read several. Swamped with Christmas for Kids and Team Posner Law Group work.
Look it over and read article of interest; it’s all right here!
I’m telling you; this is THE newsletter for information on marijuana … Political, Health and Science, Business, Culture, Criminal Justice, and more!
I wish I could highlight many more of the articles for you, but time allows me only two.
READ THROUGH the newsletter to find whatever interests YOU. It is easy to use.
When Californians voted to legalize marijuana last year, they also voted to let people petition courts to reduce or hide convictions for past marijuana crimes. State residents can now petition courts to change some felonies to misdemeanors, change some misdemeanors to infractions, and wipe away convictions for possessing or growing small amounts of the drug.
“We call it reparative justice: repairing the harms caused by the war on drugs,” says Eunisses Hernandez of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that helped write the California ballot initiative.
Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire and Oregon also have made it easier for people convicted of some crimes of marijuana possession, cultivation or manufacture to get their records sealed or expunged, which generally means removing convictions from public databases. Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a criminal justice bill that would, among other changes, allow people to expunge any conviction that’s no longer a crime, such as marijuana possession.
Yet allowing people to seal their criminal records or reclassify convictions is not the rule in states that have legalized or decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Bills that would remove or reduce convictions on people’s records are often opposed by lawmakers and prosecutors who argue that people who knowingly violated prior laws shouldn’t be let off the hook just because the law changed.
California has done more than any other state to require judges to excuse residents’ past marijuana crimes. That’s because the state took the issue to voters, Hernandez said. “Through the Legislature, we would not have gotten this.”
In states that have legalized marijuana, some lawmakers say reducing old marijuana-related convictions is a no-brainer. “Since this is now the law of Nevada, it’s important that we allow folks who have made these mistakes in the past to have their records sealed up,” said Nevada Assemblyman William McCurdy, a Democrat who proposed a bill on the issue this year.
“To the extent that there are individuals suffering under criminal records for conduct now legal in Nevada, those cases are best handled on a case-by-case basis,” Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, wrote in his veto statement. He added that given other reforms to the sealing and expungement process in Nevada, a marijuana-specific law wasn’t necessary.
Nearly half a million people were arrested for marijuana crimes in California over the past decade, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. But California courts have received just 1,506 applications for reclassifying past marijuana-related crimes since state residents gained the option to do so last year.
The Drug Policy Alliance also says that more than 78,000 convictions could be set aside in Oregon. But courts received just 388 requests for set-asides in cases that involved a marijuana charge in 2015, 453 in 2016, and 365 so far this year, according to the Oregon Judicial Department.
It could be that many people just don’t know they can get their records sealed. Marijuana industry and legal defense groups have hosted free events in both states to help people file the right paperwork — though in both states, lawyers say filing a petition is straightforward enough to handle without an attorney.
Still, the California ballot initiative’s emphasis on criminal justice reform and releasing people from the burden of past crimes may be the new normal moving forward. The initiative has become “the gold standard,” said Art Way, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Colorado office. He said that activists in New Mexico, New Jersey and New York are all lobbying for racial justice and, to some extent, retroactive relief for marijuana crimes.
Heroin availability in the US — and overdose deaths related to drug — has skyrocketed over the past several years. Eleven of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 21 field divisions in the US rated it has the number-one drug threat in 2016. And while the DEA says heroin from Mexico, South America, Southwest Asia, and Southeast Asia is all available in the US, the agency’s testing and research indicate that the US’s southern neighbor is the dominant source.
“Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Colombia dominate the US heroin market because of their proximity, established transportation and distribution infrastructure, and ability to satisfy heroin demand in the United States,” the DEA notes in its 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment.
Mexican cartels’ shift to producing heroin — as well as synthetic drugs like fentanyl — has been driven in part by loosening marijuana laws in the US, and the Sinaloa cartel appears to be the main player in a lucrative market.
National Drug Threat Survey respondents reporting high heroin availability from 2010 to 2011 and 2013 to 2017. 2017 DEA NDTA
The Sinaloa cartel dominates much of Mexico’s Pacific coast, which includes main opium-cultivation areas in Guerrero and Sinaloa, which is part of country’s Golden Triangle. (The CJNG is also active in that area.)
For Mexico’s cartels, “the big moneymaker right now, given the opioid epidemic, is heroin, and the reason that it’s heroin is that people who have become addicted to prescription opioids find it a lot cheaper to purchase heroin,” Vigil told Business Insider.
Mexican cartels often have improvised labs — “I call them ‘kitchen labs,’ because they use nothing more than pots and pans that you would find in any kitchen,” Vigil said — located near growing areas. The cartel chemists who run those labs don’t have formal training, but they’re mentored by other chemists and know how to convert opium to morphine and heroin, Vigil added.
“Before I cooked some 40 kilos a year,” he said. “But now I’m cooking like some 30 kilos a month,” making both black-tar and white-powder heroin, a sign Mexican producers are drawing on Colombian methods.
Seizures of fentanyl, which is more profitable than heroin, in the city this year are 10 times what they were last year, and DEA intelligence indicates that 80% of the drugs seized are linked to the Sinaloa cartel.
While the spread of heroin and opioid abuse in the US has had devastating consequences for many communities, for the traffickers, it is simply a matter of business.
Americans “buy [drugs], we sell,” the Sinaloa operative told Rio Doce. “We don’t force any gringo who consumes heroin or marijuana,” he added. “They do it because they want to, and if one doesn’t sell it to them, somebody else is going to do it.”
Mexico’s cartels, Vigil said, are “very much like any corporation. They judge the market demand, and they shift accordingly, and I would have to say the cartels shift much more efficiently and quickly than any major corporation, because they don’t have to deal the bureaucracy.”
I have addressed all these issues. Read Rush to Sentence – A Major, Awful Consequence of our “War on Drugs”! nd see my video “Stacking Charges” ( they call it incentivizing in this article ).
Plea bargaining has destroyed the jury trial in other ways. Here is one: Because 97% of cases end in a plea, there are damn few good trial lawyers around; ones with experience, ones on top of the law and the Rules of Evidence! So even the rare defendant who goes to trial usually does not have a lawyer truly up to the task!
And here is a FACT (which the courts will not acknowledge!): Most of the time the plea is NOT “freely” nor “knowingly” given! The defendant is scared to death, perhaps has met his/her P D only five minutes beforehand (I KNOW this often is true) and never before, and pleads only because his/her lawyer says “do this or you will get a longer sentence”. The defendant has NO understanding of his/ her options, no real understanding of the process nor the consequences! As a matter of fact, I bet a good psychologist might even diagnose people with a Mental Health condition rendering them incapable of voluntarily and knowingly entering a plea: I will call it PTrSD – Pre Trial Stress Disorder. Because they do not know the law, and because their lawyer has virtually (sometimes literally) never discussed their case with them, they have PTrSD, and are too stressed to plead.
Excerpts from the Article:
Despite the frequent presence of juries in media coverage of trials, the public is absent from much of the democratic process created by the U.S. Constitution. While citizens elect officials, few participate in important daily criminal and civil justice decisions by serving on juries. Juries decide fewer than four percent of criminal cases and fewer than one percent of civil cases. Juries don’t determine criminal defendants’ fates, because defendants plead guilty around 95-97 percent of the time.
But why would a defendant plead guilty, when a prosecutor otherwise would be required to convince a jury to convict the defendant? Almost invariably, the defendant pleads guilty because he or she will receive more time in prison if the case went to a jury trial and resulted in conviction.
Prosecutors use charge or sentence bargaining to “incentivize” defendants. Defendants are given less time in prison if they give up their jury trial rights and plead guilty. In fact, even innocent people have pled guilty to avoid a longer sentence, which will be imposed, if they insist on a jury trial and are convicted by a jury.
The plea with the better sentence may be available for only a short period of time—and only before the defendant has significant information about the prosecutor’s case against him. The plea may even require the defendant to waive seeing the prosecution’s evidence and waive the indictment by a grand jury (in places where grand juries are required).
Although this system is widely accepted today, is it constitutional?
The statistics tell a disconcerting story. Ten percent of those who have been found innocent pled guilty—many times because of the severe difference in the sentence if convicted before a jury versus if pleading guilty.
What about those who are guilty? Plea bargaining is equally troublesome in those circumstances. Whether a defendant is guilty or innocent, the constitutional issue is whether the defendant freely chose to plead guilty and forego a jury trial. To understand this choice, we can look to history. The provision for trial by jury in our Constitution was based on the English jury in the late 18th century.
Although historically a defendant could plead guilty in England, it rarely happened. Back then, almost everyone took the jury trial. Even if the accused pled guilty, the judge imposed the same sentence for a plea and for a conviction by a jury. In the past, the Supreme Court recognized the possible constitutional problem with significant sentence incentives for pleas over jury trials. However, later, the Court sealed the fate of the jury trial and thus criminal defendants.
In Bordenkircher v. Hayes, the prosecutor asked the defendant to take a plea offer of five years for an alleged forged check for around $90. He threatened the defendant with a new indictment subjecting him to life in prison, if he would not take the plea. The defendant refused to plead guilty, was subsequently indicted by a grand jury on a new life imprisonment charge, was convicted by a jury, and sentenced to life in prison. The defendant argued this was unfair. His right to due process was violated when the prosecutor punished him for insisting on a jury. But the Supreme Court decided that the defendant’s constitutional rights were not infringed.
The Court has laid aside the Constitution and defendants’ rights in favor of efficiency. However, the jury is enshrined in the Constitution, and defendants do not freely choose pleas over jury trials when facing much stiffer sentences if convicted by juries.
I have argued elsewhere for jury reform including “the plea offer” and “sentence” requirements. The basic idea is if a prosecutor offers a plea bargain and the defendant decides to go to trial, the plea offer as well as the sentence associated with the plea can be placed into evidence at trial for the jury to consider. The jury then has multiple options. It can convict on the original charge, convict on the plea charge, or not convict. In deciding on what, if any, charge to convict, the jury can consider the sentence associated with the plea charge and the sentence associated with the original charge.
This practice of considering the sentences would be consistent with historical convention. English juries knew the sentences and often acquitted or gave partial verdicts for lesser offenses based on the sentence. The plea bargaining system is direly in need of reform. The public should play its intended role to oversee the decisions of prosecutors and police—and be the ultimate deciders of innocence or guilt.
Suja A. Thomas is the Peer and Sarah Pedersen Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. She has authored The Missing American Jury: Restoring the Fundamental Constitutional Role of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries (Cambridge Univ. Press 2016) and co-authored Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law with Sandra Sperino (Oxford Univ. Press 2017). She welcomes comments from readers.
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