Two Strikes and You’re in Prison Forever Why Florida leads the nation in people serving life without chance of parole.
These kinds of laws do NOT help anyone and they do not keep us safer. They are an outdated holdover from the “get tough on crime” days, when we saw that they simply are too harsh, unfair, and ineffective. This article was so long that I could not edit it as I would have liked. I had to leave out much about Mr. Jones’ background, but it all is available if you open the link.
Nobody with any sense can say that this law is fair.
Excerpts from the Article:
On a hot June afternoon in 2011, 69-year-old Eunice Hopkins rolled down the windows of her silver BMW, waiting for the air conditioning to kick in before she left a supermarket parking lot. A tall, disheveled man in a straw hat walked up to her car window, grabbed her arm and demanded the keys, she told police in this Orlando suburb. She screamed and pulled out of the parking space. The man ran into a shopping mall across the street, where officers arrested him.
Mark Jones, a 37-year-old former West Point cadet, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, according to court records. He had been arrested before for low-level crimes and served a year in prison after stealing a $400 tool set from a Home Depot.For the unsuccessful carjacking, however, he was sentenced to life without parole. That means he will never get out of prison, no matter how sober and industrious he has become in his 10 years behind bars.
The number of people serving life-without-parole sentences has soared across the country in the last two decades, rising to 56,000, according to The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group. Some people received these penalties as an alternative to capital punishment, which has fallen out of favor with many prosecutors and the public. The number of death sentences dwindled to 18 last year, and only 2,500 people are now on death row, down from almost 3,600 two decades ago.
But there’s another reason for the increase: A handful of states have embraced life-without-parole sentences to punish “repeat offenders” — even if their crimes didn’t cause physical injury, an investigation by The Marshall Project and The Tampa Bay Times found. Washington passed the first “three strikes” law in 1993, allowing prosecutors to give life sentences to people convicted even of nonviolent felonies if they met the criteria for “persistent offenders.” At least two dozen states followed suit, including Florida in 1995.In many states, people sentenced to life used to become eligible for parole after 15 years.
But Florida and others virtually ended parole a generation ago, so that life sentences became permanent. Today, Florida has more than 13,600 people serving life without parole, far more than any other state and almost a quarter of the total nationwide. Though this sentence is widely seen as an alternative to the death penalty, which is used in murder cases, 44% of the people serving it in Florida were not convicted of that crime, according to our analysis of state data. Part of the reason Florida’s numbers are so high is that it went further than any other state in 1997 by passing an unusual “two strikes” law known as the Prison Releasee Reoffender Act. The law directs prosecutors to seek the maximum sentence for someone who commits a felony within three years of leaving prison, which often means a lifetime behind bars. The law also takes sentencing discretion away from judges. About 2,100 of the state’s permanent lifers, or about 15%, are in prison because of the law, our investigation found. The crimes that netted life without parole included robbing a church of a laptop, holding up motel clerks for small amounts of cash and stealing a television while waving a knife. “The scope of life without parole is huge in Florida,” said Christopher Seeds, a professor at University of California, Irvine, and an expert on life sentences. The state has an unusual number of crimes that are punishable by life, he added. The state abolished parole in 1983, and Florida governors rarely grant clemency.
The two-strikes punishment has been disproportionately applied to Black men, who account for almost 75% of those serving time because of the 1997 law, our analysis found; about 55% of all prisoners in the state are Black. Their most common charge was armed robbery, not homicide. Housing its life-without-parole population, including those locked up under the two-strikes law, cost Florida at least $330 million last year, according to our analysis of state data. “This is an incredibly punitive law that is totally arbitrary,” said Jeff Brandes, a Republican who represents St. Petersburg in the Florida Senate and is trying to repeal the two-strikes law, so far without much support from his colleagues. He said Florida wastes too much taxpayer money locking people up forever on burglary, robbery and theft.“A sentence that is too long is just as unjust as a sentence that is too short,” he said.
When the two-strikes act passed unanimously in 1997, budget analysts told legislators it could cost Florida taxpayers upward of $1.6 billion in the first decade, and the state might need to add at least 14,000 additional beds for prisoners, analysts estimated.“This law will be a bigger deterrent than a cost,” the speaker of the Florida House told The Orlando Sentinel.The Department of Corrections is now Florida’s largest state agency, with an annual budget of $2.3 billion. Spending has increased, even as the state’s overall prison population dropped from 100,000 to nearly 80,000. Its life-without-parole prisoners cost the state more than $330 million last year, based on the agency’s most recent annual average cost per prisoner estimate of $24,265.
People Serving Life Cost Florida Hundreds of Millions of Dollars A Year
The Florida Department of Corrections spent more than $300 million in its last fiscal year to house and care for prisoners who are serving life sentences in prison, according to an estimate by The Marshall Project. The cost grew by more than $120 million from the early 2000s.
Source: The Marshall Project estimated the cost of people serving life in Florida prisons using the average daily cost per prisoner per year and the total number of people serving life sentences. Historic data on prisoner cost came from the Florida Department of Corrections’ annual reports, some of which were accessed with Wayback Machine. Historic data on the number of people serving life sentences in Florida state prisons came from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Corrections Reporting Program. The total costs are adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index to represent 2020 dollars.
Prosecutors in Florida have sole discretion over when to seek the two-strikes sentence. And they almost always seek enhanced sentences, according to state data. Prosecutors asked for increased prison time in about 90% of the eligible cases, or more than 80,000 times since 2010. In the district that covers Tampa in Hillsborough County, prosecutors only pursued sentence enhancements on half of the eligible cases. In more than 50% of the districts, including St. Petersburg, prosecutors sought enhancements 100% of the time. Some prosecutors said those numbers, which are reported to the state by their offices, don’t reflect the outcomes of all cases, including plea deals. “I can tell you with 100% confidence that we don’t seek PRR 100% of the time,” said Bruce Bartlett, the state attorney for the St. Petersburg district. “Quite frankly, I wish they would bring parole back.”
Prosecutors in Florida identified more than 90,000 cases where they could pursue sentence enhancements. For more than 80,000, or 90% of the total, they chose to ask for harsher sentences. Among 20 judicial districts in Florida, prosecutors in 11 pursued every possible sentence enhancement over the past decade. Some prosecutors said those numbers, which are reported to the state by their offices, don’t reflect the outcome of all cases, including plea deals.
Hardee, Highlands, and Polk
DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota
Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington
Brevard and Seminole
Source: Case data reported by Florida State Attorneys’ Offices
When prosecutors use the two-strikes law and the defendant is convicted, judges have no say on sentencing. Instead, defendants automatically get whatever sentence state attorneys sought. Jones was offered a plea deal of 15 years, but didn’t take it, court records show. He went to trial and was convicted by a six-person jury, which Florida law allows.
Stuart Bryson was one of Jones’ public defenders. One of the things that bothers Bryson about the two-strikes law, he said, is that jurors are never told the defendant could be facing life in prison if found guilty. They’re instructed that guilt or innocence is their only concern, and a judge will determine the appropriate punishment. But that’s not the case. “The legislature has given unbridled and unfettered power to prosecutors,” Bryson said. The last statement Jones’ trial judge, Jessica Recksiedler, made after imposing a mandatory life sentence? “I wish I could say good luck sir, but God bless,” according to a court transcript. (She did not respond to requests for comment.)The state attorney whose office prosecuted Jones declined to comment. After he was sentenced, Jones said, he made a plan to kill himself. The other prisoners told him not to lose hope. He could appeal, they told him. “I kind of changed paths at that point,” he said. He decided not to give up. He worked his way up from groundskeeper to law clerk in prison. The courts have upheld his life sentence so far, but he keeps filing appeals on behalf of himself and other prisoners. He quiets his mind now by doing intense, military-style workouts daily. His wife, Rose, still drives two hours each way to visit him most Saturdays. He’s been sober 10 years and has a spotless disciplinary record from the Florida Department of Corrections. In 2019, the VA approved service-related disability payments for his PTSD and head injuries.
Eunice Hopkins, now 80, lives in a Camelot-themed neighborhood in the suburbs of Orlando, where a sign peeks out of her impeccable garden: “Jesus loves you!” She was about to deliver some avocados from her tree to a neighbor when a reporter asked her about what happened to her 10 years ago at the Publix supermarket down the road. “It was so long ago!” she exclaimed. She recalled that she was picking up a treat for her church group that night when Jones approached her car. Her scream was “better than any opera soprano,” she said. She drove home and called her husband, then the police. She’s never gone back to that Publix. “What happened to me was true, and it was scary,” she said. But when she heard Jones would be locked up for life, she called the prosecutor to complain. “I said: ‘No, this is too much! He’s a young man!’” she recalled. “I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”
This long due legislation is a step in the right direction, and a big deal for thousands of Delawareans.
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware lawmakers passed two bills this year that overhaul access to second chances, making it easier for more than 290,000 people to move beyond the collateral consequences of a criminal record. The two pieces of legislation – Senate Bill 111 and Senate Bill 112 – expand access to Delaware’s mandatory expungement process effective January 1, 2022, and make mandatory expungement automatic (or “Clean Slate”) by August 2024.
State Senators passed the bills unanimously in April and the House of Representatives followed suit — approving the bills by an overwhelming majority during the late stages of the legislative session in June. Both bills were signed into law by Governor John Carney on Monday, November 8, 2021 — making Clean Slate a reality in Delaware. (The specific records that will be subject to mandatory expungement starting in 2022 are described later in this post.)
Delaware is most recent addition to the growing number of states in the nation to make record clearing automatic for at least some convictions, so that eligible individuals will no longer be required to complete a burdensome and expensive petition-based process to get their record expunged. (Several other states have automated expungement exclusively for marijuana convictions.)
Sen. Darius Brown of Wilmington sponsored the bills, and a variety of stakeholders and advocates, including the Office of Defense Services, the Delaware Department of Justice, the ACLU of Delaware, the Delaware Center for Justice, the Game Changers, the Delaware Coalition for Smart Justice, the National Clean Slate Initiative, the Center for American Progress, Code for America, the R Street Institute, and JP Morgan Chase supported the bills’ passage.
While the bills were being considered in the General Assembly, many impacted individuals came out to support SB 111 and 112 and provided critical testimony that resonated with lawmakers and pushed the bills forward. Advocates and directly impacted people organized coalitions of leaders in each of Delaware’s three counties in support of the legislation and held events across the state highlighting the collateral consequences faced by the estimated 400,000 Delawareans living with a record.
Combined with previous legislative measures, SB 111 and 112 will have an enormous impact on people, families, and communities across the state. In 2018, the General Assembly passed a major juvenile expungement bill, giving Delaware Family Court the option to immediately expunge a felony arrest record if a child’s case is terminated in their favor. Then in 2019, the General Assembly passed a landmark bill expanding access to second chances for adult Delawareans by creating the mandatory and discretionary expungement processes for most misdemeanors and felonies after a 3-7 year waiting period (depending on the underlying crime) without another conviction. Prior to the enactment of the 2019 law, second chance opportunities for adults were very limited. Individuals could only obtain an expungement for an arrest that never resulted in a conviction or a small number of convictions after they received a pardon.
The Paper Prisons Initiative estimates that up to 400,000 people in Delaware live with a record. With 9 out of 10 employers, 4 out of five landlords, and 3 out of 5 colleges running background checks, records create obstacles to accessing jobs, housing, and education. Records also prevent people from starting a business because they cannot access credit and impact individuals’ ability to fully participate in social and civic community life.
Delaware has greatly expanded avenues to expungement in recent years, but the process is still complicated, time intensive, and cost prohibitive. The State Bureau of Identification, the agency responsible for processing mandatory expungements, states that 281,190 people with a record in Delaware are eligible for a mandatory expungement under the current law, which extends to non-conviction records and less serious misdemeanors. However, only .4 percent of eligible individuals (or just over 1100 individuals) obtained a mandatory expungement in 2020.
Clean Slate legislation will eliminate this large gap between eligibility and true access to a second chance by automating the process and ensuring that people have access to the economic opportunities they deserve. Under SB 111 and 112, more than 20 percent of Delaware’s population – and 290,000 people overall – will have access to automatic expungements and Clean Slate.
As the state moves forward with implementing SB 111 and 112, organizations such as the Delaware Office of Defense Services, Delaware Center for Justice, ACLU of Delaware, Game Changers and others are focused on community engagement and education. In addition, expungement events are in the works and will be held throughout the state.
What the bills do:
Senate Bill 111 automates Delaware’s pre-existing mandatory expungement process, making Delaware the most recent addition to the growing number of states in the nation to enact automatic record clearing applicable generally to at least some convictions. (Several other states have automated expungement exclusively for marijuana convictions.) As in other states, the implementing agencies in Delaware have several years to promulgate and establish procedures, with a deadline of August 1, 2024. Upon implementation, Delaware’s State Bureau of Identification must identify qualifying criminal histories for clearance monthly. Eligibility for Clean Slate is based on the state’s mandatory expungement provisions, which allow certain arrests, adjudications, and convictions to be expunged after set periods of time.
Senate Bill 112 is a companion bill to Senate Bill 111 and expands the pool of records eligible for mandatory expungement. This bill, which is effective January 1, 2022, authorizes the clearance of certain low-level felony convictions through a mandatory expungement process, a first for Delaware. Previously, Delaware law required individuals seeking expungement of any felony conviction to pursue a more costly, complicated, and court-based discretionary expungement.
Specifically, SB 112, amended by Senate Amendment 1, makes these felony convictions eligible after 10 years, unless otherwise noted:
Drug possession (after five years have passed)
Miscellaneous drug crimes
Unlawful dealing in a counterfeit or purported controlled substance
Maintaining a drug property
Possession of burglar’s tools or instruments facilitating theft
Forgery in the second degree
Unlawful use of payment card
Senate Bill 112 also allows for the expungement of convictions or adjudications for underage possession or consumption of alcohol; possession of marijuana; or possession of drug paraphernalia to be always expunged, regardless of a person’s prior criminal history. SB 112 takes effect on January 1, 2022.
The bottom line: After August 1, 2024, every person eligible for mandatory expungement is also eligible for Clean Slate. This means that following the completion of an individual’s case or sentence Delaware will automatically expunge cases terminated in one’s favor, all violation convictions, certain misdemeanor convictions, and certain felony cases with a single conviction after a set period. Most juvenile arrests and adjudications are also eligible for mandatory expungement after certain timeframes. In general, the juvenile expungement statutes are more expansive than the adult statutes.
Eligibility for mandatory expungement in Delaware can be difficult to understand. Some general guidelines are below:
First, a person needs to go to the State Bureau of Identification to obtain their certified criminal history. This costs $52. There are three locations across Delaware.
Next, SBI shares an official determination of eligibility and will contact the individual via mail. If the person is eligible for a mandatory expungement, they must communicate to SBI that they would like to expunge their record within thirty (30) days. This request requires an additional $75. That process is completed by the SBI and the records are expunged. If their record is not eligible for mandatory expungement, they may petition the Court under the discretionary process. The bills passed this year did not change the discretionary expungement process.
Generally, a person is only eligible for mandatory expungement in Delaware if the following things are true (new changes made by SB 112 are bolded):
Cases terminated in favor of the accused or cases in which a person has not been found guilty or delinquent can always be expunged, regardless of a person’s criminal history.
The person has been convicted or adjudicated of a qualifying offense, which are violations, certain misdemeanors, and a select group of felonies. Domestic violence-related offenses and driving offenses, such as DUI, do not qualify for mandatory expungement. Most adult felony convictions, and certain adult misdemeanor convictions are not eligible for mandatory expungement. However, Delaware has a court-based petition system for these offenses known as discretionary expungement.
The individual does not have any pending cases.
The qualifying conviction or adjudication is the only case on the individual’s criminal history (there are exceptions for non-convictions, violations, underage drinking, and marijuana-related offenses and juvenile adjudications).
The person has completed the term of their sentence and paid any fines, fees, and restitution related to the conviction fines/fees can be converted to a civil judgment).
This was printed as “Odd News”. Sadly, it is not odd that we still are imprisoning people for growing pot!
Excerpts from the Article:
A 64-year-old fugitive who surrendered to Australian police because a Sydney lockdown left him jobless and homeless was sentenced on Thursday to an additional two months behind bars for escaping from prison almost 30 years ago.
Darko Desic has been back in custody since mid-September when he walked into a police station in the beach suburb of Dee Why and confessed to breaking out of Grafton Prison, 620 kilometers (390 miles) to the north, in 1992.
He pleaded guilty to escaping from lawful custody and was returned to prison to serve the remaining 14 months of a 33-month sentence for growing marijuana.
In Sydney’s Central Local Court on Thursday, Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson said she had no alternative to imposing a prison sentence for escaping.
She added two months to his sentence. The offence carries a potential maximum of 10 years.
She accepted that Desic had escaped because of “real fears” that he would be deported once his sentence was served to his homeland that was then known as Yugoslavia. He feared he would have to serve in the military during the 1991-1995 wars that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Outside court, defense lawyer Paul McGirr told reporters Desic had recently received a letter from Australian Border Force informing him he would be deported once he was released from prison.
“Bearing in mind he doesn’t have the same country left to go back to being Yugoslavia,” McGirr said. “Hopefully someone with a bit of common sense looks at that.”
It is not clear to which country Desic could be deported. He is not an Australian citizen.
To escape prison, Desic, 35, used a hacksaw blade to cut through cell window bars. He found bolt cutters in a shed within the prison grounds and cut through a perimeter fence.
He then spent three decades in Sydney’s fashionable northern beach suburbs near where he surrendered to police.
Desic committed no further crimes but had lived under a constant burden of not knowing when he might be arrested, McGirr said.
His local community where he had worked as a handyman had grown to “love and respect” him,” McGirr said.
An outbreak of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus locked down Sydney from June 26 until Oct. 11, drying up Desic’s income and leaving him sleeping in sand dunes.
A public fundraising campaign had raised 30,000 Australian dollars ($23,000) in support of his legal costs, bills, and housing needs since his arrest, McGirr said.
The magistrate said the decades that had passed since his last conviction established that he changed.
“He clearly has made an important impact on the community,” Atkinson said.
Prosecutor Scott Williams said the case evoked a “romantic idea” of escape and asked for a full-time custodial sentence.
This was needed to ensure other prisoners contemplating breaking out knew they would be punished “no matter how long after escape when captured,” Williams said.
The Whole Story:
You can bet your bippie that there is tons of criminal wrongdoing here! It needs to be exposed!
Excerpts from the Article:
A massive trove of private financial records shared with The Washington Post exposes vast reaches of the secretive offshore system used to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators and — in 14 cases involving current country leaders — citizens around the world.
The revelations include more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in Malibu, Calif., and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who gained considerable wealth after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Other disclosures hit closer to home for U.S. officials and other Western leaders who frequently condemn smaller countries whose permissive banking systems have been exploited for decades by looters of assets and launderers of dirty money.
The files provide substantial new evidence, for example, that South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy. Tens of millions of dollars from outside the United States are now sheltered by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of it tied to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing.
The details are contained in more than 11.9 million financial records that were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and examined by The Post and other partner news organizations. The files include private emails, secret spreadsheets, clandestine contracts and other records that unlock otherwise impenetrable financial schemes and identify the individuals behind them.
A trove of secret files details the financial universe where global elite shield riches from taxes, probes and accountability. The trove, dubbed the Pandora Papers, exceeds the dimensions of the leak that was at the center of the Panama Papers investigation five years ago. That data was drawn from a single law firm, but the new material encompasses records from 14 separate financial-services entities operating in countries and territories including Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Belize and the British Virgin Islands.
The files detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts, more than double the number identified in the Panama Papers. Among the account owners are more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine and more than 330 public officials in more than 90 countries and territories, twice the number found in the Panama documents.
The offshore financial system offers privacy, which provides an opportunity to hide assets from authorities, creditors and other claimants, as well as from public scrutiny.
Why is it called “offshore” finance?
This system is known as offshore finance because the countries that popularized this method of sheltering wealth were often in island or coastal locations, but today “offshore” signifies anywhere that is not a customer’s country of residence.
Is this legal?
Offshore providers are typically established according to the laws of the country where they are located. But some clients have used offshore services in ways that are not legal.
As a result, the Pandora Papers allow for the most comprehensive accounting to date of a parallel financial universe whose corrosive effects can span generations — draining significant sums from government treasuries, worsening wealth disparities, and shielding the riches of those who cheat and steal while impeding authorities and victims in their efforts to find or recover hidden assets.
“The offshore financial system is a problem that should concern every law-abiding person around the world,” said Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI officer who served as lead agent on dozens of financial-crimes cases.
Ebadi pointed to the role that offshore accounts and asset-shielding trusts play in drug trafficking, ransomware attacks, arms trading and other crimes. “These systems don’t just allow tax cheats to avoid paying their fair share. They undermine the fabric of a good society,” said Ebadi, now an associate managing director at Kroll, a corporate investigations and consulting firm.
THIS LETTER WAS PUBLISHED AT THE TOP OF P A 4 OF THE DELAWARE STATE NEWS OF 10/8/21
Letter to the Editor – These Numbers are Alarming! – 9/28/21
In the past week, I have read several articles about the remarkable spike in overdose deaths. If you know an addict (and the odds are that you do!), take a moment to talk to them about this problem. This is an increasing, deadly problem, and can kill someone in a flash.
What do these articles tell us? They tell us that the United States saw a record number of drug overdose deaths last year — more than 93,000, which marked an increase of almost 30 percent from 2019. They also tell us that law enforcement officials are seeing an alarming amount of heroin laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl, even in much smaller amounts, is deadlier than street heroin. Because the criminalization of drugs means that this astronomical industry is unregulated; therefore, the addict never really knows what he or she is buying, and easily acquires products tainted with fentalyl, fifty times more deadly than heroin.
The new public safety alert warns Americans that counterfeit pills, often sold on social media or e-commerce websites, increasingly contain fentanyl or sometimes methamphetamine, posing health risks beyond the dangers of buying prescription pills. One article lets us know that The DEA has seized 9.6 million counterfeit pills already this budget year, which is more than it seized in the previous two years combined, officials said. The number of seized counterfeit pills found to contain fentanyl has jumped 430 percent since 2019.
Moreover, the drug dealer isn’t just standing on a street corner anymore, it’s sitting in a pocket on your phone. Many of the counterfeit pills that alarm the authorities are being sold on sites such as Snapchat and TikTok.
Folks, warn your kids and any addicts you may know, before it is too late!
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
The list is too long to post here, but READ IT and see that 37 of them involve the laws or regulations.
Everyone should read this article by one of my LEAP colleagues! Read it!
In in addition to this, of course everyone is harmed in that it is YOUR $53 billion a year which is wasted on the ineffective, failed policy called the “war on drugs”.
How the War on Drugs Hurts Everyone – Businesses Hit Hard
The “War on Drugs” hurts YOUR Business! This interesting piece should be read by everyone! The entire article follows my summary, immediately below. (I’m tellin’ ya, don’t settle for the summary; the article is fascinating, irrefutable, and so sadly true!-kra)
(1) You have fewer customers because the war on drugs reduces purchasing power. The domestic illegal drug business is a $300 BILLION + market; every dollar thus spent is not available to buy your products or services
(2) Your potential customers can’t buy your products because the war on drugs has deprived them of credit. So true; after exhausting all cash, pawning valuable assets for “peanuts” to get more poison (drugs), the addict destroys his/her credit. With great shame and embarrassment I relate that I ran up more than $60,000.00 in credit card debt for this purpose – filed bankruptcy.
(3) Fewer customers walk by your door due to drug prohibition crime. Crime and disorder outside your doors drives potential customers away. Hard to pinpoint the dollar amount, but it is in the tens of BILLIONS. In every state, entire towns and neighborhoods are blighted.
(4) Your overhead is higher because insurance premiums and security cost more. Shoplifting, other drug related thefts, and related security costs are costing you a fortune in higher insurance premiums and expenses = more tens of BILLIONS of dollars.
(5) Your health insurance premiums are higher because prohibition does not protect public health. HIV and AIDS are the main culprits here. Add in trips to the ER and you see the cost reflected in every patient’s bill! If you think addicts are getting any meaningful health treatment in America’s prisons, you just don’t know the sad facts – they are NOT!
(6). The housing business is further depressed and your real estate taxes are higher because of prohibition crime. Remember, drugs don’t cause all the crime, prohibition causes crime! Alcohol did not create Al Capone, alcohol prohibition created Al Capone. Prohibition crime makes many neighborhoods unattractive to live in or to visit, which significantly depresses residential and commercial real estate values. Housing is frequently abandoned, and lenders won’t issue mortgages on such properties.
(7) Your tax bill is higher because prohibition wastes taxes. This may be the understatement of the century. In the past 40 years America has wasted more than ONE AND A HALF TRILLLION DOLLARS on the “War on Drugs”! Federal, state and local governments are spending at least $45 billion a year fighting the war on drugs; think what good could be done with such amounts! Politicians say “we need money for this”, “we need money for that”. Legalize, regulate and tax drugs, and THERE is all the money you need! This simply means responsible people making responsible decisions about drug availability, quality control, and sales, instead of the current mayhem because the business is controlled by violent criminals!
8. You pay more in interest and bank charges. To fight money laundering, the government requires that cash transactions of more than a trivial amount be subject to identification and reported to federal law enforcement. The number of financial transaction reports filed annually has grown from 8,000 in 1985 to over 17,100,000 in 2011 (16). It costs a bank, on average, $25 to prepare, file and audit each report. The annual cost to banks, just for filing these reports, is now at least $425 million, and those costs are, of course, passed on to YOU!
9. Some of your competitors have an unfair advantage because they help launder drug money. Restaurants, for example, are a $632 billion a year industry, involving tens of billions in cash each month. They are notorious money-laundering enterprises.
(10) The goods you sell cost you more to purchase. We buy hundreds of billions of dollars of imported goods annually. The inspection costs and delays, trying to interdict drugs, are astronomical.
(11) Prohibition crime creates long commutes and reduces your employees’ productivity. Crime that flows from drug prohibition devastates large sections of American cities and suburbs. Hundreds of thousands of attractive, well-built homes and apartments convenient to jobs and transit are in neighborhoods considered too dangerous by millions of American families. Affordable housing is often many miles away from jobs and convenient transit.
The Full Report: Eleven Ways the War on Drugs is Hurting Your Business
By Eric E. Sterling, J.D. (Embarrassed to say that although I know the myriad ways in which the “War on Drugs” has ruined our criminal justice system I had not thought of this … but Eric did!)
Updated July 2013
Over the past five years, we have witnessed profound change in the U.S. and global economies. Who would have ever imagined that General Motors would go into bankruptcy and the government would take a one-third stake in its ownership? U.S. unemployment has been extraordinarily high. Key sectors of the economy such as housing have been knocked to the ground. Federal government indebtedness has skyrocketed. State and local government spending has cratered, resulting in extensive cuts in services, from public schools to police departments.
Every business knows that its survival could be upended by a shock to oil prices, the unavailability of credit, or a hit to the economy of Europe or China. Every investor is desperate to protect their portfolio against loss, and struggles to obtain a return on investment greater than inflation. The economic impact of public policy dominates every contest, from county sheriff to President, from U.S. Senator to town counselor.
Yet one public policy with profound impacts on business and the economy is rarely evaluated: drug prohibition policy. If you have a retirement account or own property, drug policy makes those assets less valuable. If you simply work for a profit-making business, chances are the size of any raise you might get is smaller because of drug prohibition. The text below explains how drug prohibition shrinks your customer base, increases your taxes, creates crime, raises your costs and reduces your profits. Around the world, government leaders, ordinary citizens, and business leaders are now questioning the effectiveness, the merit, and the wisdom of continuing the war on drugs.
(1) You have fewer customers because the war on drugs reduces purchasing power.
Over the last twenty years, more than seven million Americans received felony convictions for possessing drugs or selling them. Tens of millions of others have criminal records for arrests or misdemeanor drug convictions. Many of these people are drug-free, but struggle to find a job and a regular paycheck. Ex-felons are rarely hired for responsible jobs – typically they are underemployed, if employed at all. Tens of millions of potential customers can’t buy what you are trying to sell. Our prison population has grown by two million persons over forty years. People in prison don’t buy Fords or Chevrolets. Japan and Germany do not hurt their domestic motor vehicle markets by filling their prisons with young people, drug offenders, or substance abusers.
(2) Your potential customers can’t buy your products because the war on drugs has deprived them of credit.
Typically, one-third of your customers use a credit card at the cash register (1, please go to www.cjpf.org/CitationsFor11Ways for citations). Ex-felons’ applications for credit are often rejected, even if they have regular jobs. In many neighborhoods, a significant fraction of the men and women walking by your door can’t buy your goods or order your goods and services by Internet or telephone.
The average American left about $3,389 unpaid on their credit card each month in 2010 (2). With more than seven million ex-drug felons without credit cards, drug prohibition enforcement has shrunk the market for goods and services by about $23.7 billion.
(3) Fewer customers walk by your door due to drug prohibition crime.
If you are a retailer, you depend on foot traffic. Crime and disorder outside your doors drives potential customers away. Fortunately, crime rates have gone down in much of America, but the salient fact of the war on drugs is that it causes crime among competing sellers, crime as thieves attempt to rob drug dealers, and crime that is committed by compulsive users to get the money to buy their drugs.
The goal of drug prohibition is not to control drugs or drug using behavior but to make drugs scarce, and thus drive up the price. The illegal drug business is enormous – as high as $121 billion in annual retail sales in America (3).
Drug dealers have enormous amounts of cash to protect, but they can’t hire licensed security firms or off-duty police – they need criminals willing to use violence to repel robbers. Ordinary business disputes are resolved by litigation or mediation but within the illegal drug business the many inevitable conflicts are not resolved in court, but with violence.
In 2004, 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal inmates said they committed the offense they are in prison for in order to obtain money for drugs (4). The crime of some drug users – if they are in your neighborhood – frightens away your customers. Your customers’ cars are broken into when parked outside your stores. Your customers may fear robbery coming to your stores. On the sidewalks of many urban commercial districts, drug-using criminals fence stolen property, hawk counterfeit goods, and solicit customers for sex.
(4) Your overhead is higher because insurance premiums and security cost more.
Every business needs property and loss insurance. Losses from shoplifting were estimated at $11.7 billion in 2009, according to the National Retail Security Survey. In 2009, total retail losses cost retailers $33.5 billion. Total overall victim losses from all property crimes excluding arson totaled $15.7 billion in 2010, according to the FBI. Even if your business was not a victim last year, those losses translate into higher insurance premiums for you. And to prevent crime against your business, you pay for security personnel, equipment and services.
An estimated one-half of people in prison have suffered from drug abuse or dependence (5). If drugs were legal and controlled and addicts had better access to treatment, maintenance, and harm reduction services, addicts would not be driven to crime. Switzerland, using Heroin Maintenance Therapy (HMT) since 1994, reduced serious crime by each addict in HMT by fifty to ninety percent, depending upon the crime (6).
(5) Your health insurance premiums are higher because prohibition does not protect public health.
One of the major costs to American business is the contribution to the health insurance premiums of their employees.
Conditions or policies that aggravate health problems raise health costs, and health insurance premiums. Drug prohibition not only makes the drugs illegal, it puts drug users outside the law. Doctors and nurses distrust illegal drug users. Drug addicts frequently try to obtain drugs by fraud. Doctors and nurses are prosecuted for prescribing narcotics to drug users. Thus when drug users present themselves for treatment of legitimate medical conditions, they are rejected. Their untreated medical problems become major, expensive problems we all pay for.
The White House estimated that the healthcare cost of substance abuse was $11 billion in 2007 (7). President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget has requested $15.6 billion for medical care of persons with(5) Your health insurance premiums are higher because prohibition does not protect public health.
). The sharing of syringes by people who inject drugs has contributed to about a quarter of the cumulative number of AIDS diagnoses in the U.S. from the beginning of the epidemic until 2009 (9). Needles are shared because possessing a needle (drug paraphernalia) is a crime.
Needle sharing is prevented by providing new needles to injecting drug users in exchange for used ones. Thorough research has demonstrated syringe exchanges reduce the spread of HIV. This intervention has been recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, members of Congress who are strident anti-drug legislators have blocked federal funding for syringe exchange programs to stem HIV infection. They say it “sends the wrong message,” even though extensive research has established that promotion of sterile syringe use does not increase drug use. This disregard for public health raises your cost of doing business.
(6) The housing business is further depressed and your real estate taxes are higher because of prohibition crime.
Prohibition crime makes many neighborhoods unattractive to live in or to visit, which significantly depresses residential and commercial real estate values. Housing is frequently abandoned, and lenders won’t issue mortgages on such properties.
Abandoned properties in high crime neighborhoods with drive-by drug markets don’t pay any real estate taxes. Investment to redevelop properties is deterred. Even occupied buildings become undervalued. Overall, the real estate tax base for the city is depressed and your tax expense for municipal services is higher. Ending drug-prohibition-crime helps increase property values. A10% decrease in property crime adds about 1.7% to the selling price of homes (10).
(7) Your tax bill is higher because prohibition wastes taxes
Federal, state and local governments are spending at least $45 billion a year fighting the war on drugs (11). Over the past forty years, this spending has wasted over one trillion dollars, while drug abuse is worse (12):
*High school kids reported in 2011 that heroin and other narcotics are easier to obtain now than in the 1970s and 1980s (13).
* Drug overdose rates in America are higher than ever. The number of persons who die from drugs is five times higher than the rate in 1990 (14).
* Heroin and cocaine have continued to become cheaper and purer over the past 28 years.
Heroin is about 10 times more pure at retail than in 1980 (15).
(8) You pay more in interest and bank charges.
Illegal drug sales are cash transactions. Laundering $5 billion in cash each month is an enormous task. Money launderers convert cash into monetary instruments and conceal the criminal origin and control of the assets.
To fight money laundering, the government requires that cash transactions of more than a trivial amount be subject to identification and reported to federal law enforcement. The number of financial transaction reports filed annually has grown from 8,000 in 1985 to over 17,100,000 in 2011 (16). It costs a bank, on average, $25 to prepare, file and audit each report. The annual cost to banks, just for filing these reports, is now at least $425 million.
(9) Some of your competitors have an unfair advantage because they help launder drug money (17).
To launder drug money, drug traffickers need business allies to move cash into and through the financial system. High volume cash businesses are ideal to hide drug money (18). Restaurants, for example, are a $632 billion a year industry (19), involving tens of billions in cash each month. Banks expect restaurants to make large cash deposits daily. Restaurants can launder money by including in their daily deposits the cash from drug sales. This gets drug money into the monetary system.
Money laundering restaurants do not need to make a profit on the meals they sell, because selling meals is not their only business. Businesses that launder money can charge less than you do, take your customers, weaken your revenues, and make it harder for you to make a profit.
Your business may have a line of credit to finance your inventory. You probably took loans to open your business. You probably have to pay on loans and a mortgage every month. You can’t escape that “nut.” But some of your competitors never have to worry about their debt.
Businesses financed with laundered funds create the illusion that they were financed with legitimate funds. The drug traffickers’ goal is to operate apparently legitimate businesses that generate for them a “visible means of support,” enabling them to pay taxes and avoid suspicion. Overseas, widespread drug money laundering increases competitive pressure on American businesses.
Many money laundering businesses would fail if they were legitimate businesses, but subsidized with drug cash, they continue to compete with you.
(10) The goods you sell cost you more to purchase.
Americans buy $230 billion in goods imported from abroad (20). All these products must pass Customs inspection, along with the thousands of tons of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and marijuana that are hidden in legitimate articles as they are smuggled across our borders. A major element of the national anti-drug strategy is to “interdict” the flow of drugs from abroad. Imported goods are delayed to be searched to detect the presence of drugs. Time is money. Perishable goods such as meat, dairy products, vegetables and flowers delayed too long become worthless. Every time your perishable products are lost, your higher prices lose business and your customers subsidize the ineffective anti-drug interdiction effort.
(11) Prohibition crime creates long commutes and reduces your employees’ productivity.
The crime that flows from drug prohibition devastates large sections of American cities and suburbs. Hundreds of thousands of attractive, well-built homes and apartments convenient to jobs and transit are in neighborhoods considered too dangerous by millions of American families. Affordable housing is often many miles away from jobs and convenient transit.
Long commutes exhaust and frustrate your employees. Parents working far from their children are anxious should they fall sick. Parents rush to pick up children in after-school programs, or to get home for dinner. Resultant anxiety increases stress, and reduces creativity and productivity. (And such long commutes drive up the price of gasoline, contribute to global warming, and increase long-term economic costs.)
The unanticipated consequences of drug prohibition cost hundreds of billions of dollars in losses annually. Prohibition is economically illogical because its objective to make drugs ever-more expensive continually draws more people to seek the ever-higher profits it creates. The failure to tax the estimated $121 billion of drug trafficker revenues amounts to a federal subsidy of organized crime of about $42 billion annually — much more than the cost of the U.S. Justice Department.
The Business Council for Prosperity and Safety wants to increase profits for American investors and create safe neighborhoods for our families, employees, and customers. The Business Council is working to reduce crime, to reduce the harm from drugs, and to reduce unnecessary taxes by controlling drugs with a sensible regulatory system.
The American system of private enterprise balances incentives and regulatory tools that rely upon the rule of law. Those tools – legal markets, courts, insurance, professional ethics, licensing, regulation, and proper taxation – work for every aspect of the American economy. It is time to use these tools to take the profits of the drug trade away from organized crime and street dealers in order to protect public safety and control drugs.
American businesses manufacture and distribute an infinite array of products without violence or corruption while making a reasonable profit. We can apply the American way of business – the most widely admired in the world – to control the distribution and use of drugs while protecting public safety and health.
(Great job, Eric! Ken Abraham, also “J.D.”, and President of Citizens for Criminal Justice)
LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – over 100,000 law enforcement officers and prosecutors who see that drug abuse is bad, the “War on Drugs” is worse):
“A system of legalization and regulation will end the violence, better protect human rights, safeguard our children, reduce crime and disease, treat drug abusers as patients, reduce addiction, use tax dollars far more efficiently, and restore the public’s trust in law enforcement. By eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer.” Google www.copssaylegalizedrugs.com
I would add: any such legalization should be accompanied by an advertising campaign effectively describing the dangers of drugs. kra
Many people mistakenly think that legalizing and regulating drugs will lead to more addiction, more crime, and/or will not benefit society and greatly improve America. If you are one of them I encourage you to read the pamphlet at http://www.leap.cc/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/After-Prohibition.pdf , to check out www.copssaylegalizedrugs.com . And join our Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE Facebook group. (Still working on our website). Legalize, regulate, and tax does NOT mean “condone”! All drugs are poison, and I have always said couple any legalization with advertising drugs’ dangers (Just as Colorado will do). kra
If you know an addict, take a moment to talk to them about this. This is an increasing, deadly problem, and can kill someone in a flash.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a public warning Monday that a growing number of pain medications bought on the black market are laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl or the stimulant methamphetamine, driving overdose deaths to record levels.
“We decided to do this because the amounts are staggering,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We are in the midst, in my view, of an overdose crisis, and the counterfeit pills are driving so much of it.”
The United States saw a record number of drug overdose deaths last year — more than 93,000, which marked an increase of almost 30 percent from 2019.
Officials said the DEA hasn’t issued such a public safety alert since 2015, when the agency warned that agents were seeing an alarming amount of heroin laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl, even in much smaller amounts, is deadlier than street heroin.
The new public safety alert warns Americans that counterfeit pills, often sold on social media or e-commerce websites, increasingly contain fentanyl or sometimes methamphetamine, posing health risks beyond the dangers of buying prescription pills.
The DEA has seized 9.6 million counterfeit pills already this budget year, which is more than it seized in the previous two years combined, officials said. The number of seized counterfeit pills found to contain fentanyl has jumped 430 percent since 2019.
The United States has been grappling with a worsening drug epidemic since 1999, fueled primarily by an explosion of opioid use. At first, that drug abuse centered around prescription pain pills, such as Oxycodone, Vicodin or Percocet.
In recent years, the death toll has risen sharply, fueled in large part by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is relatively cheap to manufacture and distribute. Last year, drug overdoses killed more than twice as many Americans as car crashes.
Milgram said the illicit drug trade in America is increasingly shifting from plant-based products like cocaine or heroin to chemical-driven manufacturing.
“There’s no question in my mind right now there are chemicals largely coming from China to Mexico, where the cartels are mass-producing fentanyl and meth and now increasingly seeing them pressed into pills,” she said. Often, those pills are sold online as Oxycodone, Percocet or Adderall, but in truth the pills contain fentanyl or methamphetamine, she said.
It’s not just that the drugs being consumed are changing and killing more Americans. The way Americans buy illicit drugs has also changed.
“The drug dealer isn’t just standing on a street corner anymore,” Milgram said. “It’s sitting in a pocket on your phone.” She added that many of the counterfeit pills that alarm the agency are being sold on sites such as Snapchat and TikTok. “Social media is not doing enough to deal with this,” she said, while emphasizing that the first priority is warning the public. “We have not gone to them yet with specific demands, but we will at some point go to them.”
Justice – prison – is headed his way!
Excerpts from the Article:
Police in Madrid on Thursday arrested a former Venezuelan spymaster wanted on U.S. narcoterrorism charges, capturing him in a hideout apartment nearly two years after he defied a Spanish extradition order and disappeared.
Gen. Hugo Carvajal, who for over a decade was late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s eyes and ears in the Venezuelan military, was arrested in the small apartment in which he had been holed up. “He lived totally enclosed, never going outside or getting close to the window, always protected by people he trusted,” Spain’s police said in a statement on social media in which they posted a short video the moment heavily-armed officers put handcuffs on Carvajal.
Spain’s leftist government last year approved Carvajal’s extradition to the U.S., where he faces federal charges for allegedly working with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to “flood” the U.S. with cocaine.
It’s not clear when Carvajal could be sent to the U.S. But his extradition may be slowed down by an asylum request he previously submitted to Spanish authorities.
First indicted in 2011, he narrowly escaped extradition when he was arrested in Aruba in 2014 while serving as Venezuela’s consul general to the Dutch Caribbean island. President Nicolás Maduro’s government successfully applied pressure on Aruba, which sits just miles off Venezuela’s coast, to release Carvajal and when it did he received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Caracas.
But he was never a confidant of Maduro and in the complicated internal politics of Venezuela’s ruling socialist party was relegated to a minor role as a backbench parliamentarian.
While on the run, both from the DEA and Maduro, Carvajal traveled to the Spanish capital from the Dominican Republic under a disguised identity. He was greeted at Madrid’s airport by two Spanish intelligence officials, the AP has previously reported.
The case against Carvajal in New York centers on a DC-9 jet from Caracas that landed in southern Mexico in 2006 with 5.6 tons of cocaine packed into 128 suitcases. Carvajal said that judicial probes in Venezuela and Mexico never linked him to the incident and that the alleged plane owner backs his alibi.
But he faces incriminating evidence from phone records, drug ledgers and the testimony of at least 10 witnesses, according to an affidavit from a DEA special agent. Those witnesses include members and associates of the “Cartel of the Suns,” former high-ranking Venezuelan officials, according to the affidavit.
The U.S. indictment also repeats an accusation that Carvajal provided Colombian rebels with weapons and protection inside Venezuela.
This is a great idea and it works!
Excerpts from the Article:
Frustrated by out-of-control increases in drug overdose deaths, California’s leaders are trying something radical: They want the state to be the first to pay people to stay sober.
The federal government has been doing it for years with military veterans and research shows it is one of the most effective ways to get people to stop using drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, stimulants for which there are no pharmaceutical treatments available.
It works like this: People earn small incentives or payments for every negative drug test over a period of time. Most people who complete the treatment without any positive tests can earn a few hundred dollars. They usually get the money on a gift card.
It’s called “contingency management” and Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the federal government for permission to use tax dollars to pay for it through Medicaid, the joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled that covers nearly 14 million people in California.
Meanwhile, a similar proposal is moving through California’s Democratic-controlled Legislature. It’s already passed the Senate with no opposition and is pending in the Assembly, where it has a Republican co-author.
“I think there is a lot in this strategy for everyone to like,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco and author of the bill. “Most important of all, it works.”
How much it would cost depends on how many people participate. A program covering 1,000 people could cost as much as $286,000, a pittance in California’s total operating budget of more than $262 billion.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, a nonprofit agency, runs a small, privately-funded contingency management program. It’s where Tyrone Clifford, who was addicted to meth, enrolled because they promised to pay him for every negative test over 12 weeks. His first payment was $2. That increased slightly with each subsequent negative test for a total of about $330.
“I thought, I can do 12 weeks. I’ve done that before when my dealer was in jail,” he said. “When I’m done I’ll have 330 bucks to get high with.’”
Clifford did make it through the program without a positive test. But instead of using the money to buy more drugs, he bought a laptop computer so he could go back to school. He says he hasn’t used methamphetamine in 11 years and now works as a counselor at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, helping people who had the same addiction problems he did.
Clifford, 53, said earning the money didn’t matter much. Unlike some who struggle with drug addiction, Clifford always had a job and a house and was never much in danger of losing either. But he said watching his account grow with each negative test motivated him more than any other treatment program did.
“You watch those dollar values go up, there is proof right there that I am doing this,” he said. “By no means is anyone getting rich off this program.”
There is “clear and convincing evidence” that the treatment works to keep people sober from drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine, according to an analysis by the California Health Benefits Review Program. However, while research shows it is effective in keeping people sober during the program, the effect doesn’t last much beyond six months after treatment concludes.
California, like most of the country, has struggled with opioid abuse, including drugs like prescription painkillers and heroin. But overdose deaths from stimulants in California nearly quadrupled between 2010 and 2019, and the problem has gotten even worse since.
Preliminary data from the first nine months of 2020 — when much of the state was locked down because of the coronavirus— shows stimulant overdose deaths jumped 42% compared to 2019.