Friday, February 13, 2009

What a Couple of Dirtbags...

Can you believe this? Reading this story brought me right back to the frustrations of being a teenager.

Two Pennsylvania Judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan of the Court of Common Pleas in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, have admitted to accepting $2.6million in kickbacks for sentencing juveniles to jail time in privately owned detention facilities.
Marsha Levick, chief counsel for the Juvenile Law Center, estimated that of approximately 5,000 juveniles who came before Ciavarella from 2003 and 2006, between 1,000 and 2,000 received excessively harsh detention sentences. She said the center will sue the judges, PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare for financial compensation for their victims.
Thankfully, SSDP is launching a new effort to connect with high school students and help them build chapters at their schools. Be sure to check out the website for updates on this!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lockdown, USA

Some drug war policies are more destructive than others. A prime example are the Rockefeller Drug Laws in New York. Enacted in 1973, these laws created mandatory minimum sentencing for the possession and sale of even small amounts of drugs.

Think about this. Mandatory minimums remove a judge's discretion to hand out appropriate sentences. This is a system that gives prosecutors more power than judges - and that is a dangerous and backwards policy. A judge has to give the mandatory minimum sentence regardless of the case's circumstances. You can lower your sentence by bargaining with the prosecution.

Don't have any information? That's too bad. The only way to lower your sentence under these laws is if you can give up names of others. What ends up happening is those that are actually involved in a form of "high level" drug dealing, are able to reduce their sentences, while first time offenders, who have no connections and no names to drop, are given lengthy sentences. For this reason, New York's prisons are overflowing with non-violent drug offenders. In fact, 91% of those incarcerated for drug offenses in New York state are black and latino.

Lockdown, USA is a documentary exposing the harsh reality of a failed "War on Drugs" and the counterproductive and inhumane Rockefeller laws. It explores the lives that have been shattered and the costs, both human and monetary, of these laws. The story of Darrel Best and his family is covered:
In the fall of 2001, Darrell Best was convicted of possession of cocaine. Darrell had been doing handy work at his uncle’s house and signed for a Fed-Ex that was addressed to a neighbor. The package contained a pound of cocaine. The District Attorney offered Darrell Best a one-year plea bargain, if he admitted guilt. Darrell refused to take the plea, insisting on his innocence and claiming he wanted to set an example of integrity and honesty for his children. The Judge apologized as he read Darrell Best his sentence, 15 years to life; the minimum sentence he could give Darrell under the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
Catch Lockdown, USA on IFC starting May 5th, on iTunes May 6th, and on DVD February 2009. The film follows Russel Simmons campaign to raise awareness on this issue and features artists such as P Diddy, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Mariah Carey and Tim Robbins.

Check this film out. SSDP chapters around the country should consider hosting screenings to help support the film and spread the message.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mexico's Drug War General dead after a week.

As a result of failed policies, from American influences, the war on drugs only continues to destroy our neighbors to the south. After only one week in charge the man Mexico coined to battle the cartels Brig. Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello QuiƱones, has been brutally tortured and murdered along with two others.
"Tello, 63, along with his bodyguard and a driver, were kidnapped in downtown Cancun last Monday evening, taken to a hidden location, methodically tortured, then driven out to the jungle and shot in the head. Their bodies were found Tuesday in the cab of a pickup truck on the side of a highway leading out of town. An autopsy revealed that both the general’s arms and legs had been broken."[PoliGazette]

Sadly top Mexican officials plan to rely on the same strategies that have failed them so miserably. Since Predident Calderon started moving against the cartels 5,300 people have died in the violence, more then the entire US occupation of Iraq so far. The Mexican government has no way to curb the demands of the US market on it's own and will never take away the real profit motives that bank roll these ultra-violent organizations.

As long as Mexico continues down this path innocent people will continue to die in the violence needlessly created by their failed prohibitionist policies Xeroxed in Washington, DC.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Kellogg's Backs Heroin and LSD Users but Dumps Phelps Over Bong Hit

Kellogg's has decided to drop it's sponsorship of Michael Phelps. Kellogg's spokeswoman said "Michael's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg." Interesting.

My initial reaction was, "Are you serious? You guys make rice krispie treats!" My second reaction was to get online and research Kellogg's wholesome image. Surprisingly, Kellogg's is currently running a promotion with the popular video game Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero allows players, many of them children, to jam along with amazing artists such as Jimmy Hendrix, Rancid, the WHO, Cream, Stone Temple Pilots, Slash (ever seen a picture of that guy without a cigarette in his mouth?), and countless others who, in addition to producing fantastic auditory works of art, have all admittedly and unapologetically used drugs far more dangerous than cannabis.

Most parents are not going to care if Michael Phelps is on the front of their kid's cereal box any more than they care that their child is jamming out to a deceased heroin addict. Why? Because we pay those artists and atheletes because they have amazing talents, not for what they do in their leisure time.

Kellogg's surely knows there are artists on Guitar Hero games who are drug users. So why the hypocrisy? I'm not sure, but I think while you're calling Kellogg's at (800) 962-1413 to tell them you won't be buying any more of their products, you should also ask them to consider if they think they're sending mixed signals by continuing their association with Guitar Hero.