United States fact of the day

On any given day in the United States, at least 137,000 men and women sit behind bars on simple drug possession charges, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.

Nearly two-thirds of them are in local jails. According to the report, most of these jailed inmates have not been convicted of any crime: They’re sitting in a cell, awaiting a day in court which may be months or even years off, because they can’t afford to post bail [TC addendum: this latter part no longer seems plausible to me].

…In fact, police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.

That is from Christopher Ingraham at Wonkblog.

Comments

This tide is turning, like gay marriage. Probably won't have as sudden a tipping point. Also probably won't be a federal/Supreme Court thing because it doesn't involve civil rights. But weed will be recreationally legal in most blue states in the near term, and that's where most Americans live.

Spoken like a true pothead (I myself have smoked but did not inhale).

OT--anybody notice that the Republicans problems all started when they agreed to be termed as "Red" in TV news rather than "Blue"? When did that happen, around 2000 with Bush vs Gore? The Republicans never should have agreed to that. Colors matter, and not just in Compton, Los Angeles.

Why would anyone smoke something but not inhale it? You are lying, like Bill Clinton did when he said the same thing.

That's what Bill said about Monica; what a hypocrite.

Anyway, the real answer is that these jails are the modern form of mental health / mental retardation facilities. The Sixth Amendment can get these people out (or off to the pen) ASAP but their families, the courts, etc. often drag it out in hopes they'll sober up. These are mainly the equivalent of millions of Mayberry's Otis Campbell and are treated pretty much the same way.

And you know that...how?

Deduction, my dear friend; and some confirmatory observations. If, on any given day, 137,000 people were awaiting trial for offenses that threatened short term imprisonment then a) the courts would be overwhelmed; and, b) assuming some competence on the part of prosecutors, the prisons would all be overflowing. Judges, knowing this, would be eager to reduce the risk and so lower bail until almost anyone could get out. The only folks left inside would be those who'd skipped/jumped before or those whose families wanted them to dry out / cool off. My experiences, albeit some years in the past, with being appointed as a sort of forced pro bono (thanks Uncle Sam) lawyer in criminal cases, including more than a few drug cases, confirmed it.

"When did that happen, around 2000 with Bush vs Gore?" Yep. Prior to that the networks used a variety of color coding (with orange designated for the Libertarians in 1980):

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-republicans-were-blue-and-democrats-were-red-104176297/?no-ist

I think that article has it wrong. The turning point was -- if I recall correctly -- during the Dukakis campaign. There was a moment, caught on tape and widely used in news media, when there was a shot of Democratic campaigners holding up signs some of which were in red and some in blue, and you hear the voice of a party operative (I don't know who, maybe the candidate?) ordering them to take down the signs in red. At the time, I assumed that was because the party wanted to dissociate themselves from Socialism and Communism.

" I assumed that was because the party wanted to dissociate themselves from Socialism and Communism."
OK, but why the media has accepted it-- that's is the question.

The media accepted it because it is useful at communicating a lot of information is a very simple way.

Perhaps conservatives lost their way when they courted the white nationalist vote? Nah, let's blame the colors on the map.

There are no white nationalists so I very much doubt they were ever courted by anyone

Must be colors then.

I meant, why they accepted the supposed Democratic choice of blue. "The turning point was — if I recall correctly — during the Dukakis campaign. There was a moment, caught on tape and widely used in news media, when there was a shot of Democratic campaigners holding up signs some of which were in red and some in blue, and you hear the voice of a party operative (I don’t know who, maybe the candidate?) ordering them to take down the signs in red. "

I distinctly remember being surprised at Republicans being red and Democrats being blue in 2000. That may just have been because my high school history textbook had used the opposite scheme, though.

Red still stands for Socialism here in the UK, I have to mentally translate statements about red States and blue States into the Brit version

I sat behind a bar just last night and I didn't even have any illegal drugs...just alcohol.

How is throwing people in prison for no good reason not related to civil rights? The monetary value of the lives destroyed by these draconian policies would probably bankrupt the USA overnight were they monetized in favour of the victims.

Years behind bars at the local jail without a conviction just awaiting a hearing? I've never see a local jail do anything remotely close to this. Nearly all simple possession cases either release the prisoner within a few weeks or send them to state prison after plea deal. Source: work as a forensic psychiatrist in Texas jails.

Exactly. This article is a very large pile of crap.

Years sitting in jail because they can't afford the bail associated with weed possession? Yeah, sure thing, Champ.

"Browder was arrested at age 16, in May 2010, while walking to his home on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Browder, charged with second degree robbery, Browder was unable to make $10,000 bail as a result. Maintaining his innocence, he refused to take a plea bargain that would have released him. The case was eventually dismissed and Browder was released in June 2013 by Judge Patricia DiMango [1] after numerous postponements of his case and 31 hearings.[2][3]

"For two of those years, Browder was held in solitary confinement or administrative segregation.[4] His story was covered in some degree by local press after his release,[2] and Browder was profiled in The New Yorker in October 2014 for being held for three years on Rikers Island without a trial.[5] The exposure of his case became the impetus for proposed reforms in the New York City criminal justice system.[6][7]"
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalief_Browder

You were saying...?

Second Degree Robbery = weed possession?

They sit in jail for a few weeks because of simple possession.......

First time possession will rarely even result in this. The long-sentences-for-possession horror stories you read in the news are almost always due to the defendant having a dozen misdemeanors and felonies on his record as well. I do agree that jailing people for weeks for marijuana possession is not a good idea.

Poor Al Capone spent 11 years in Alcatraz for the nonviolent offense of tax fraud.

Different jurisdictions process at different rates. Your locality is not the U.S. The Bronx (NYC) is notorious for extremely long pre-trial waits if you can't make bail. Yes, some going out months or even years. A pre-trial plea disqualifies those cases for consideration as you don't get to see how long it would take to get to trial.

Also keep in mind the real life costs. Any wait over a few days basically means that you will lose your job (if not self-employed). How long can you pay your bills while locked up? Are you going to lose your car? Your house?

http://www.bronxdefenders.org/new-york-times-in-misdemeanor-cases-long-waits-for-elusive-trials/

Sample quote from the linked article:

"Last year, a judge told a 17-year-old defendant in a marijuana case in the Bronx Defenders project that if he did not take a plea deal, which involved no jail time, he would be “coming back and forth to court over the next 18 to 24 months.” The 17-year-old took the deal."

When I had to know these things, the median lapse of time in New York between arrest and final disposition of a case was 75 days. Even if you insisted on a petty jury trial for a felony charge, the median processing time was 13 months.

It seems like the waiting time for a trial in small-time drug cases varies quite a bit from place to place--we've had people with local knowledge with wildly different numbers for how long someone is likely to sit in jail waiting for a trial. And it seems like the real issue there is that some court systems are backlogged and can't keep up with their volume, and so are taking a really long time to give people trials. That sucks, and it should change, but it seems like it's a local issue, not really a national one.

Donkblog is campaigning for Hillary and against Gary Johnson. They have no right to moralize against marijuana arrests. We get the status quo with Clinton.

The status quo is let the states decide, as it should be. Obama hasn't stopped CO, OR, WA, and AK from legalizing and Clinton won't stop CA and the rest from doing so.

Yes, the status quo is continuous improvement. We could stand to stick with it.

But Clinton hasn't promised to keep the Obama policy. She probably might, but isn't promising anything. Trump has promised to keep it. Johnson and Stein promise to drastically improve it.

I'm voting Johnson, but we both know his position (and Stein's) on anything means nothing. Of all my concerns with Clinton, a big crackdown on what the states have been doing re marijuana isn't one of them.

I'm not as confident as you are. Hillary Clinton might want to court police unions and could easily throw MJ policy under the bus if it seems expedient. Lots of people make lots of money off the drug war. Some of those people contribute to Democratic Party coffers.

Obama let the states handle it, and he's a Democrat too.

There are many criticisms of Obama, but pay-for-play is not high on the list.

These are blue state by and large, I don't think Dem presidents want to antagonize those voters. We'll see I guess.

A dem pres like HRC can decriminalize possession, but go after stores, taking down the 1% of pot and transferring money to LE and by extension, herself. It will be interesting to see how many hundreds of millions of dollars Hillary Clinton makes while she's President.

If you think the DEA isn't operating in the states you listed going after marijuana you are living in a cave.

Too late, DEA's already raided that cave.

I thought status quo was feds keep it illegal and the feds selectively go after people in states when they think it makes sense for political ball busting.

From the Office of Drug Control Policy:

It would be wrong to suggest that simple­possession offenders never see the inside of a prison cell. Sometimes they do, of course. A few may be sentenced outright, even when no other charges or aggravating factors are involved. But there is also a range of other circumstances under which a simple­possession marijuana offender might receive a prison sentence. For example, this could happen if:
• the marijuana offense was committed while the offender was on probation or parole;
• an offender charged with a more serious crime pleads guilty to the lesser offense of marijuana possession but, as part of a plea bargain, is required to serve a prison sentence;
• the offender has a criminal history, particularly one involving drugs or violent crime;
• the violation took place in a designated drug­free zone (such as on school property); or
• the marijuana sentence piggybacks (runs concurrent with) the sentence for one or more other offenses;

You can call this government propaganda or you can call its facts. Your choice.

I always liked to think of the army of potheads as strongly resembling one of my fellow dads, having a joint with his wife Saturday night off their deck, prior to having a nice dinner or watching a movie or South Park.

The reality can be different: to wit, the shrieking vulgar morons (also drunk) who would toke up every single night in a small urban park right outside our then apartment, where the clouds of smoke would come into our son's bedroom.

There's an externality I didn't like. Also paying (indirectly) for their welfare checks.

Office of drug control policy are tax funded government workers who become unemployed if they say drug use should be handled as a health matter like tobacco and alcohol where public health policy can have far greater impact in reducing harm than criminalizing it.

Tobacco's future is in biologics thanks to some unique features in its genetics, not in addictive harm to users. And tobacco is pretty generally agreed to be more addictive than any other drug. Many addicted smokers became addicted for decades and life in the first 24 hours.

Alcohol consumption has changed dramatically in my lifetime, almost seven decades. In my youth, there were many brewers in the Midwest, but ingredients and taste were not the things marketed, and for my peers, price to buzz was the top criteria. But screwdrivers or rum and coke were almost as cheap and faster, OJ was cheap then, as was rum. All those brewers are gone, but the labels remain, but only to create different price and culture points for essentially the same liquid. But today, a lot of money goes into unproductive brewing with no profit delivering unique beers that are consumed in low volume. I use "unproductive" the way today's economists do: labor costs are increasing from the industry average.

Where pot has been legalized and taxed, we see pot being produced like beers in brewpubs and craft brewers - lots of varieties. The high taxes on pot sets a floor on price that limits consumption, like the taxes on tobacco, so differentiation comes from offering unique variations. Plus, the regulations make the production local and connected to the community, like beer and taverns were in the past, especially in the UK and Europe.

If pot is legalized on the basis it must be produced and sold within a county or State with high local tax rates, the pot economy will also be considered unproductive. The pot economy would switch from low labor cost commodity and low quality with high profit, to low profit and labor costs and taxes leading to excessive prices limiting quantity. Pot would become like Gucci, et al, handbags. (Gucci has a high markup, but not high profits because the brand requires high cost marketing and low production to create scarcity to support a high price.)

But with high prices, volume will be low, so tax revenues will not be high. Create a huge number of local producers creating a small tax revenue stream plus local jobs, my only fear will be Republican governors who try to turn their State into a national pot production factory as a favor to Monsanto or ADM, arguing for a low Federal tax to replace the high local sales and consumption taxes by preemption so consumption would be increased, with the governor collecting high State production taxes. But with job losses in the State's pot industry due to high productivity gains.

"tobacco is pretty generally agreed to be more addictive than any other drug"

I assume you are excluding opiates?

While true, this isn't entirely innocuous. In particular, throwing the book at a defendant on drug charges because the prosecutor "knows" but can't prove that he committed a more serious crime is troubling. I understand the desire, and think it's probably used for good more often than for evil. But still, there's a lot of potential for abuse there, and I don't think it goes entirely unrealized.

That probably means 137,000 tax funded jobs associated with holding and tracking and caring for them.

None of the tough-on-crime politicians couple their promises with tax hikes to pay for putting thousands of people in public care at costs far higher than cash welfare back in a mythical liberal welfare state FDR or LBJ supposedly created.

Does Tyler really imagine that the courts are regularly remanding those accused of simple possession without aggravating factors on anything other than recognizance? You'll sirens more time in jail for a DUI charge than simple possession, in my experience - less than 24 hours on average, either way.

This is a gross miscarriage of data. Take a snapshot of these hundred thousand, and another twelve hours later. The faces will have changed.

The point of the miscarriage for Human Rights Watch is to justify their rancid red-haze politics. Aryeh Neier was a press agent for Latin American reds during the but end of the Cold War and these people are his descendants. The point of the miscarriage for the ACLU is to advance their cause of replacing punishment with social work. Neither of these organizations is run by decent people.

"Pendleton had a history of misdemeanor arrests in the Nashua area, including marijuana possession, vagrancy and panhandling-related charges. On the night of March 8, he was charged with marijuana possession. Police checked his record and saw two fines: $149 for a charge of disorderly conduct and $50 for violation of a city ordinance.

"He was sent to Valley Street jail and arraigned by video the following day. He had no lawyer. Nashua District Court Judge Paul Moore kept the bail at $100, noting that Pendleton had no fixed address, outstanding fines and a history of no-shows in court.

"Trial on the marijuana charge was set for April 7, meaning Pendleton would have to wait in jail for a month for a trial on a charge that might not result in a 30-day sentence.

"It’s unclear if proper procedures were filed. A defendant in New Hampshire has the right to be represented by a lawyer during an arraignment on a Class A misdemeanor, but Rothman said that doesn’t always happen for people arraigned via video from Valley Street jail.

"Pendleton did file papers asking for a court-appointed lawyer, but that was after his bail was already set."
Reported in the leftist NH Union Leader... http://www.unionleader.com/Judge-says-cash-bail-for-poor-needs-reconsideration

About a week later, he died from a drug overdose of fentanyl smuggled into jail and probably shared with him.

He worked at a McDonalds in Nashua NH for about $8.50 an hour and could not afford to rent any place to live. Thus frequent arrests for vagrancy and other common activities people with homes get to do without worry, like drink and smoke some weed.

Two simple questions:

One, given this person's apparent history of ignoring prior court orders and absence of any fixed address or other permanent community ties, do you think it unreasonable for the court to provide some incentive for this guy to actually show up when ordered (regardless of whether you agree with the underlying law which lead to the order)?

Two, given your response above, is $100 in collateral an unreasonably lofty compliance incentive, again considering this guy's history and apparent means? Marijuana isn't free, recall.

Instead of considering the case ex post, capstan hindsight, try to put yourself in the shoes of the court and consider what you would have fine differently given the constraints.

Ugh sorry, swipe to text is an awful medium for commenting.

I'm not sure how you think it's somehow an improvement to imagine the hundred thousand changing every 12 hours.

And "aggravating factors" carries a whole hell of a lot of water in this post. Is it somehow welfare-improving for society at large to nail someone for possession while on parole? That's an aggravating factor.

I’m not sure how you think it’s somehow an improvement to imagine the hundred thousand changing every 12 hours.

They're not in there very long, contrary to what the moderator implies.

"In 2008, the Kansas Legislature tightened restrictions on the use of OR cash deposits, Parrish said. Proponents of the bill included representatives from the Kansas Professional Bail Bond Association.

"Last year, Kansas statutes defining a speedy trial were amended from 90 days to 150 days from arraignment to trial in a felony case. If there is a continuance, the length of time can be extended."

:
"Many of the Shawnee County Public Defender’s clients are unable to afford bond, said Stacey Donovan, Third Judicial District’s chief district defender. Like Hernandez, they end up spending weeks — or even months — in jail.

"In an Oct. 6 survey of the public defender’s cases, 134 of their clients were in jail because they couldn’t pay bond.

"Being detained can cause a snowball of consequences.

"One client they represented, a high school student, was unable to graduate. Others like Hernandez, have been fired. Apartments and government benefits have also been lost.

"The public defender’s paralegal has helped make arrangements for clients who have animals that need to be cared for while they are in jail.

"The public defender’s office has had numerous cases where a person unable to pay a bond, and therefore behind bars, has been sentenced to probation once his or her case is decided. Others have had their charges dropped completely.

"There are two other major concerns for people who are unable to pay bond.

"The first is that many of the public defender’s defendants end up taking a plea, Donovan said. This can expedite their release, as opposed to waiting for a trial, but leaves them with a felony on their record.

“All of our clients are indigent so they’re often between a rock and a hard place. Many of them enter pleas so they can get out, which is rarely a just resolution to the case,” Donovan said.

"The second concern that Donovan pointed out is that many studies have shown pretrial release greatly increases the chances of a not guilty decision or probation.

“We need to make sure that we take into consideration the effects even relatively low bonds can have on people who are indigent and in poverty, and the effect that can have on their lives, and their jobs and families, before they’re even found guilty,” said Sagan, who represented Hernandez.

"To qualify for legal assistance through the public defender’s office, a single person’s income can be no more than $10,830 per year, in accordance with federal poverty guidelines.

"The Shawnee County public defender’s office has nine lawyers and a paralegal. The lawyers each have about 50 to 60 open cases at any given time."
http://m.cjonline.com/news/2015-10-24/jail-time-result-those-who-cant-afford-bond#
But that's from the leftist radical Topeka Capital Journal in commie Kansas.

The mean stay in a jail is about 24 days. About 44% of the inmates at any one time have been convicted and about 56% are awaiting disposition of their cases. The frauds at the ACLU and Human Rights Watch want you to think these local hoodlums are Edmond Dantes.

[citation needed]

The Bureau of Justice Statistics publishes a jail census each year, including admissions figures for the concluding weeks of the year. The distribution of the stock between those sentenced and those awaiting a disposition is also published therein.

You don't want to get busted for possession? Don't use street drugs. Simple and cheap.

or prescription drugs!

Get a legitimate prescription from a doctor for your legitimate problem, and you won't get busted for that either.

Seriously....get a rural doctor to provide you a prescription for your "chronic pain" like a Real American does.

What gave you the idea that small town doctors are crooks, other than you're a malicious ass by default?

Or piss off the cop.

Or look at the cop the wrong way.

Or have crumbs in your car.
(http://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article92320667.html)

Or just look like 'the wrong kind'.

Are you suggesting they will plant the drugs on you if you piss them off?

No, but they could arrest you on whatever charge they felt like. A lot of the roadside drug tests are easy to screw up accidentally, much less on purpose.

I have a relative who I want to go to jail. He's been arrested for shoplifting, then shoplifting while on probation, heroin possession, and selling small amounts of heroin. His parents are tortured by this but too weak to kick him out of the house. He's in his mid-20s and never worked a day in his life.

I'm therefore skeptical of all this mass incarceration stuff. I see a lot of crime prone worthless people who should be in jail but aren't. Don't know anyone who's imprisoned unjustly.

I tend to agree. The only dilemma is: will some jail time turn him into a criminal -- connections, etc. -- or will it scare the bejeezus out of him?

Or will his behavior remain largely unchanged, but cost the tax payers a lot of money for every day he's sitting in jail?

Because a life of never working, stealing and committing crime has no societal costs if a person isn't locked up? At least putting worthless people in jail stops them from harming others.

Being white helps really people stay out of jail for drug possession. Blacks are arrested far more often for it, despite similar rates of usage.

[citation needed]

Blacks self-report similar rates of usage in surveys, I don't personally find that conclusive on the matter. I wonder what rate of self-reporting you would get on surveys asking about other kinds of crime.

It's a lot easier to stay out if jail for drug use if your drugs are delivered to your home and then consumed in the home versus purchased and used on the street.

"It’s a lot easier to stay out if jail for drug use if your drugs are delivered to your home and then consumed in the home versus purchased and used on the street."

And if you're not breaking other laws, which would cause police to arrest and search you.

Our incarceration rates are the highest in the world, both in per capita and raw numbers. Higher than Russia and China, those paragons of civil liberties, justice, and freedom. Simple google search will tell you that much.

Link for the lazy:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/uk/06/prisons/html/nn2page1.stm

How high does it have to get before you'll consider it a problem?

Its the result of a New England Puritan elite trying to run a diverse country. New England puritans are extremely concerned about how other people run their lives. If they are ruling other New England puritans, this is not too much of a problem as they share the same genetic tendencies of thrift, hard work, self rectitude and hypocrisy (i.e. they keep their bad habits hidden from view). But the people they are ruling do not have these same habits, the Scots-Irish descendants for instance have clannishness and substance abuse as their genetic tendency (I could give examples of other US groups but you get the idea). The Puritans then have to jail a lot of people to provide the incentives needed to get closer to their values.

What's the American incarceration rate for people of Russian and Chinese descent? Otherwise, it's apples and oranges.

No it isn't. In fact, that comparison doesn't make any sense. Stop moving the goal posts.

I never established goalposts, nor moved any that existed. You're comparing a country that's Asian to one that includes a sizable portion of blacks and Hispanics. You assume the criminality of the population doesn't affect incarceration rate, and only want us to look at government, as if it just sets an arbitrary quota.

@ Ego

You are moving the goal posts as the question specifically addressed to you was "At what point does it become a problem?".

Taking your rather bigoted assumption for granted, as the U.S. is a hodge-podge of ethnicities, we should then have an incarceration rate more like the world average, instead of dwarfing everyone else. So even then, your request for comparison is extraneous.

"In fact, police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined."

In 2010, police made more arrests for public drunkenness than all violent crimes combined:

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl29.xls

What does that tell you?

Touché. By the way, this subject (drugs) is probably the main cause for libertarians to remain a minority. That and abortion. It's insane that Alex was actually quoting the ACLU here...

Oh, it was actually Tyler. That's even worse...

That violent crimes are relatively rare? Neither of these stats is that surprising -- essentially saying "there are more pot smokers than murderers and rapists." Well, hopefully.

I suspect that there is more involved than simple drug use. How hard is it really to stay out of jail? I've been a pot smoker for 23 years. I've never had any interaction with law enforcement regarding it.

Being white helps really people stay out of jail for drug possession. Blacks are arrested far more often for it, despite similar rates of usage.

The idea that cops are giving whites a pass on drug use is laughable. Do you imagine that there are simply no drug arrests in homogenous white areas in the Midwest? The difference is the privacy of drug use. If my white neighbor in Iowa smells weed, she will call the cops. Getting high means using tools to reduce smell and smoke (doob tube), smoking indoors and ventilating straight up (bathroom vent fan), using eye drops, staying inside. These rules aren't followed in communities where marijuana use is accepted. Hence, cops come in to the black neighborhood and the drugs are obvioua because they aren't hidden.

It is more a class issue than a race issue. However, there is a world of difference between "slack" and "pass". Your response is essentially a strawman as Jill did not say (and almost no rational person would say) that white people were being given a pass.

I don't know. Do you have influential friends like Andrew Sullivan? Or do you avoid walking around in public with a joint hanging out of your mouth?

Arrests are not imprisonments.

Just because someone is charged with simple possession doesn't mean that's all they are charged with.

They are trying to say that there are 137k simple pot possession only chargees in jail, but that's clearly not the case.

Someone could be in jail for ramming a semi truck full of meth through a pre-school while machine-gunning children and puppies, and one of the charges would be simple drug possession.

I support full drug legalization, but these sort of shady statistics do not help.

I guess that means you're ok if I sell your 9 year old daughter some magic pills.

If marijuana is legalized, what will be the effect on income inequality? It seems that most social changes over the past 40 years have been correlated with increasing income inequality.

Any kinds of change have been correlated with increasing income inequality over the last 40 years, because that's when income inequality started increasing. Increasing income inequality started right around when baseball started using the designated hitter. It correlates with the rise in Japanese auto sales in the US, the decline of hippie culture, the increasing complexity of video games, and a thousand other trends.

There is a logical causation between marijuana use and reduced or diminished labor force participation. Nice try though.

We'll get some nice data sets from the state based experiments.

NJ changes for the better soon!

"By Jan. 1, 2017, the state will shift from a system that relies principally on setting monetary bail as a condition of release to a risk-based system that is more objective, and thus fairer to defendants because it is unrelated to their ability to pay monetary bail. The statute also sets deadlines for the timely filing of an indictment and the disposition of criminal charges for incarcerated defendants."

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/criminal/cjr/index.html

Drug possession charges are a useful way to put arrest the most vicious violent criminals: the gang members who would have witnesses to their murders murdered. It's similar to Al Capone never going to jail for murder, just for tax fraud. No eye witnessed dared testify on the murder charges, but distant accountants finally put him in prison.

Surely for a few of those, yes. And that's a good idea. But I doubt it's a big fraction of the 137,000.

Steve didn't mention his other plan, which is that if you incarcerate all blacks, the black-caused murder rate will plummet.

The point of hyperbole is to illustrate someone's ideas by placing them in brighter colors, not to lie about them.

I spent a decade as a prosecutor and I've never seen such a thing.

The troubling thing about this type of generalization is that the compilers of fact never look beyond superficial information. Miscreants are often charged with far less than they are actually guilty of. Sentences are often reduced when charges are pleaded in mitigation.

The painful reality in America is that for every thug in prison there are two others who should still be there with him. Our sentencing is barely salient to criminals. Ive put people in prison for homicide who were out on the streets in as few as three years. Naturally it didn't take long before we had them in cuffs again.

For those that still think that there isn't a problem, here is a nice quote to give you the warm and fuzzies:

"Efrain Alvarado, the former top criminal judge in the Bronx, disputed that characterization even as the Bronx Defenders were finding it impossible to get the courts to rule on the marijuana cases. He noted proudly that there had been 300 Bronx misdemeanor trials in 2012. At the time, there were more than 11,000 misdemeanor cases pending." (http://www.bronxdefenders.org/new-york-times-in-misdemeanor-cases-long-waits-for-elusive-trials/)

So, basic math says that at the current rate it would take 30 years for the Bronx to clear its misdemeanor cases, assuming no one pled out and no cases were dropped. Currently, about 90%-95% of cases never make it trial (mostly due to plea deals). Even taking that into account, it would take the Bronx roughly a year and a half to process all of its misdemeanor cases. You can't make bail and don't plead? 18 months in jail.

Bronx definitely has a problem. Courts take it for granted most cases will not go to trial though.

Even if most of those 137k arrests are out within 24 hours, that seems like a lot of daily arrests. Even if the number guilty of nothing but possession was as low as 10,000 daily and the average druggie gets arrested 10 times annually, that would still be more than a third of a million non-criminals spending about a week a year in jail.

As for what facts such as marijuana arrests and public drunkenness arrests each outnumbering all violent crime arrests combined tell me, assuming these statements are accurate:
Good Possibilities:
Violent crimes are rarer than marijuana use or public drunkenness.

Bad possibilities:
Police are too busy arresting drunkards and potheads to put their all into catching violent criminals, inflating arrest numbers for marijuana and public drunkenness while deflating numbers for violent crime.

I suspect the reality is somewhere between these extremes(i.e. drunkards and potheads outnumber murderers, but the police still spend a lot of time harassing potheads and drunkards either because they have nothing better to do while on duty, get a kick out of harassing people, or as an excuse to avoid dealing with real criminals), and even if the vast majority of those arrested for possession or public drunkenness are charged with something more severe at the same time, I have to question the benefit to society of laws against possession and public drunkenness(so what if a drunkard passes out on the sidewalk, as long as he isn't blocking traffic, I say let him sleep off his hangover).

For the record, I've never been arrested, never gotten a ticket(but then again, I've never been elligible for a driver's license and know of no ticketable offenses not related to traffic laws), and have had few interactions with law enforcement in general. I've also never gotten more than a contact high off marijuana and I'm practically a teetotaler. Hell, I don't even knowingly consume caffeine in appreciable amounts.

Tens of thousands of people are killed by illegal drugs. Most sex crimes are fueled and possible thanks to illegal drugs. most murders are the result of illegal drugs, 80% of robberies and small crimes are caused by illegal drugs. Should we not arrest these people? Most drug crimes are selling drugs not simple use of pot as the story implies. Most of these crimes are bargined down to mere possession to facilitate the prosecution of drug pushers so don't make the mistake that these people in jail are simply smoking a joint. If you have children you children will be targeted by drug pushers and the cost for drugs is often sex. Your daughter will be passed around from one pusher to the next to service them for her drug habit. Your son will be forced to rob your neighbors homes to pay for his habit. When someone in your family is killed by a drugged driver you may ask why we don't try harder to enforce the drug laws/

It’s very sad to hear about such numbers, I believe lack of employment is one major reason behind this, so that’s why we need to be extremely careful with how we go about doing things. I am extremely fortunate that I do Forex trading where I can work with my own way and gain plenty, it’s better with proven broker like OctaFX which is world class with having all top features and facilities with small spreads, high leverage, bonuses and many things like that!

Comments for this post are closed