Friday, May 21, 2010

We are the Drug Policy Alliance

With a little help from their friends, the Drug Policy Alliance makes it clear - the war on drugs is a war on people.

I wonder if Sting wants to join SSDP's AMPLIFY Project?

Allen St. Pierre Vaporizes Oppostion in ABC Debate

The word destroy didn't do this justice so I searched for some synonyms: annihilate, demolish, obliterate, exterminate, consume, crush; and then I saw it. Vaporize. Allen St. Pierre vaporized this guy!

His opponent, Brian Darling from the Heritage Foundation clearly got in over his head on this one. He fumbles around looking for things to bring up while touting his alcohol and chewing tobacco habits. He never brings up any statistics throughout the entire debate.

This debate on marijuana legalization was part of ABC's Nightline Twittercast which allows viewers to tweet in their opinions on the subjects. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baltimore Murder Rate Drops as Police Focus on Violent Crime Instead of Drug Crimes

In Baltimore, one of the nation's most violent cities, police are beginning to rethink their zero tolerance strategy in order to reduce violent crimes. Over the past two years, arrests have declined. Along with that, homicides and shootings are down too - totals that haven't been that low since the late 1980s.

Instead of chasing suspected drug dealers, officers are focusing on people with violent backgrounds. Since Police Commissioner Fredrick H. Bealefeld III took over in 2007, homicides dipped from 282 to 234 in just a year. In 2008, nonfatal shootings dropped from 582 to 450 last year. Also in 2009, the department arrested 4,000 less people than in the previous year. Last year's arrest total was down nearly 20,000 from 2002 - when Baltimore was at the height of the zero tolerance strategy. With 64 slayings through May 11, the city is on pace for 178 homicides this year, the lowest total since 1977.
"Im not trying to win the drug war," Bealefeld said. "I'm out to win the war on violence and deal effectively with violence."

David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, places Bealefeld among a handful of police chiefs willing to acknowledge that the strategies their departments used for decades were ineffective, even counter productive. He's confident that the big drops under Bealefeld are no coincidence.

Kennedy said, "It's common sense to focus on a small number of dangerous people instead of rounding up people for low-level nonsense."
It's a lot like a scene out of President Obama's favorite show, The Wire.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rep. Mark Souder Resigns!

Rep. Mark Souder, the man who authored the HEA Aid Elimination Penalty, has resigned after acknowledging an affair with one of his female staffers. SSDP and the congressman from Indiana have a lot of history. In fact, if it weren't for Souder, SSDP might not even exist.

Souder has been one of the most vicious drug warriors in Congress. The HEA Aid Elmination Penalty has resulted in the loss of financial aid for over 250,000 students and he has done his best to oppose medical marijuana legislation. In the Showtime documentary, In Pot We Trust, you can see SSDP's new executive director Aaron Houston attempting to lobby this "foaming at the mouth prohibitionist" about medical marijuana.
Souder was chairman of that subcommittee between 2001 and 2007. During those years, nearly 200,000 students were denied college aid for drug violations, according to data unearthed by a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), a longtime nemesis of Souder. (Here's Souder complaining the student group "harassed" him in his home district.) In Souder's own state, 8,903 students were denied aid during that time.

Opponents of Souder's law argued that it would be difficult to craft a more counter-productive public policy. Souder responded by calling those opponents -- largely teachers organizations and church groups -- a "small but determined coalition of drug-legalization groups."
This is a huge victory for anyone who supports sensible and evidence based approaches to both drug policy and sex education for youth. Souder's open seat gives Democrats an unexpected opportunity.

For a real good laugh, watch this video below of Souder being interviewed by his mistress, Tracy Jackson (also married), about his testimony in support of, you guessed it, abstinence only sex education.