Thursday, March 06, 2008

War on the War on Drugs

From the creators of The Wire:
"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right," wrote Thomas Paine when he called for civil disobedience against monarchy — the flawed national policy of his day. In a similar spirit, we offer a small idea that is, perhaps, no small idea. It will not solve the drug problem, nor will it heal all civic wounds. It does not yet address questions of how the resources spent warring with our poor over drug use might be better spent on treatment or education or job training, or anything else that might begin to restore those places in America where the only economic engine remaining is the illegal drug economy. It doesn't resolve the myriad complexities that a retreat from war to sanity will require. All it does is open a range of intricate, paradoxical issues. But this is what we can do — and what we will do.

If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Jury nullification is American dissent, as old and as heralded as the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, who was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, and absent a government capable of repairing injustices, it is legitimate protest. If some few episodes of a television entertainment have caused others to reflect on the war zones we have created in our cities and the human beings stranded there, we ask that those people might also consider their conscience. And when the lawyers or the judge or your fellow jurors seek explanation, think for a moment on Bubbles or Bodie or Wallace. And remember that the lives being held in the balance aren't fictional.

Read it all.

2 comments:

Stryd3r said...

While I can certainly understand an argument that the current war on drugs is not working, I simply cannot believe that the advocation of the violation of the law is all the solution that can be provided. Instead of arguing that the current system must be reformed to adequately assist individuals in rehabilitation, this article argues that citizens must disobey standing law.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, "Children of individuals who abuse drugs often are abused or neglected as a result of the individuals' preoccupation with drugs. National-level studies have shown that parents who abuse drugs often put their need to obtain and abuse drugs before the health and welfare of their children. NSDUH data collected during 2002 and 2003 indicate that 4.3 percent of pregnant women aged 15 to 44 report having used illicit drugs in the past month. Moreover, that same data show that 8.5 percent of new mothers report having used illicit drugs in the past month. Children whose parents and other family members abuse drugs often are physically or emotionally abused and often lack proper immunizations, medical care, dental care, and necessities such as food, water, and shelter."

Children notwithstanding, drugs pose a threat to society as a whole, the influences and craving of drugs leads to crime and violence. There are numerous studies that link the use of drugs to violent crime.

Instead of advocating that law enforcement should not enforce the law, our attention must be turned to the question of WHY it is the lower classes of society who consistently abuse drugs. I am not saying that drug use does not go on in Middle or Upper Class neighborhoods, but it is certainly more rampant in the lower class - hence the "war" on that class.

Let us attempt to help those who need it, not turn a blind on on a very real problem. Our focus should be directed towards what is being done to help the people who resort to drugs, however it is incorrect to assert that violators of law should not be punished.

Cranky Doc said...

"our attention must be turned to the question of WHY it is the lower classes of society who consistently abuse drugs. I am not saying that drug use does not go on in Middle or Upper Class neighborhoods, but it is certainly more rampant in the lower class - hence the "war" on that class."

Actually, not so. See, for a good overview of the data on this and related issues, David Cole, _No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice Syatem_, Rev. Ed. (2008)