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Fixing the Criminal Justice system, and avoiding pitfalls

As noted in comments, Opposing Views has the info on the Senate Judiciary Committee plans this week:

This Thursday, December 3, members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will debate Senate Bill 714, The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009. The time and location of the hearing are available here […]

It’s been many years since a federally appointed commission has taken an objective look at American criminal justice policies, and it’s been nearly 40 years since federal lawmakers have undertaken a critical examination of U.S. marijuana policy. Please take time today to urge your United States senators to support Senate Bill 714. If your senators sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, then it is especially important that that they hear from you. For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to your members of Congress when you enter your contact information here.

In unfortunately potentially related news…

I’m only peripherally aware of the crime du jour — the Seattle shooting that left officers dead, apparently committed by someone whose earlier sentence was commuted years ago by Mike Huckabee. In this story, I share Mark Draghn’s concerns

I’m more worried that it will lead to an election-fueled backlash against lenient treatment of prisoners. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a guy who kills four cops should be let out the door, and if our legislators can craft a fine-tuned change to the law to prevent such catatrophes, I’m all for it.

The thing is, our legislators can’t do that.

And yes, we already have liberals chomping at the bit to make political hay out of this tragedy. Stella Barkwell at Crooks and Liars, Tristero at Hullabaloo, and Joe Conason at Salon are prime examples of people who likely would have had a completely different take on the story back when Dukakis was being tarred with Willie Horton.

TalkLeft treats the story right, noting likely poor judgement, but cautioning against backlash.

We can’t get in the position where Governors and Presidents are afraid to pardon or commute the sentences of anyone. After all, our current President finally, finally made his first pardon last week… and it wasn’t even for a human.

Taking bets: Will Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, or Tom Coburn find a creative way to bring this up on Thursday to sabotage criminal justice reform despite being on the same side of the aisle as Huckabee? Or maybe newly minted Democrat Arlen Specter? Or will it be Democrat Dianne Feinstein looking to take political advantage? If so, who will be first?

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19 comments to Fixing the Criminal Justice system, and avoiding pitfalls

  • claygooding

    There are so many factors that may or may not help/and or
    hurt the legalization movement,but that has been true for so long,I quit worrying bout it.
    Our present financial stress test is what brought this about in the first place,and this committee will be meeting during the budgeting debates,which could help.
    The fact that the committee will be looking at the books and gauging the effectiveness of the policy that has failed to slow drugs down,much less stopped them. And I don’t think the committee will be swayed with rhetoric as stupid as what the prohibitionist are having to use,especially since they lost the AMA.
    Right now,there are more cultivation charges than have ever been recorded,and not big ones,but hundreds of small personal grows,in every state. The people are reacting to the swing in political mood way ahead of the politicians and they know that if they lock all those cultivators up,they will have to build more prisons.
    And Mexico has decriminalized,which could move even more of America’s cash into Mexico,,legally,about spring break time. And the banks won’t make anything but ATM fee’s from that move.
    And,with all the money they have spent,trying to save the economy,and the rich people that gambled with their money,and lost,reducing ONDCP’s budget by 1/2 or more may sound pretty good,about the time they start voting on their next raise.
    All these factors are in the mix.
    I don’t believe legalization will ever even be mentioned,but decriminalization is very possible,and removal of marijuana from schedule 1 will be in their recommendation too. They already know,and the various law professors and legal advisers are already making noises about the change of policy and the problems ahead when someone finally gets them in the Supreme Court over it,or because of it.
    I believe they will let legalization be up too each state. It is the only way that they can drop this hot rock they are holding without hitting their own foot.

  • ezrydn

    Clay,

    As a side-note to your post, concerning “spring break.” If some are thinking of hitting Mexico over spring break with the idea that outwardly smoking is ok, they’re in for a rude awakening. People seem to think that the Mexican law change equates to “La Amsterdama.” Not even close.

    If some are planning on coming down, be careful, be quiet and be secluded. Openness won’t get it!

  • just me

    I’ll place bets that senator Grassely will make the first move. I hope he hangs himself with that rope. Or in his own words “Commint harakri”.

  • claygooding

    It may not be “safe” enough yet,but money being what runs Mexico,the same as here,it is just a matter of time,maybe 2011 spring break. I wouldn’t ever go there,but the college kids will,and they will spend enough money to turn a Baptist into an advocate.
    “Marijuana is addictive to people the same way sex is,anything that good needs repeating!”

  • ezrydn

    OT—With all the ballyhoo about growers working their crops to produce higher levels of THC (one of the prohib’s biggest arguements), has anyone read the story today about the “Sam Adams” line of beer “pushing the envelope” to present higher alcohol percentage beer?

    Where’s all the screaming, rolling on the ground, knashing of teeth, shreading of clothing, and killing dogs over this??? They can make their’s stronger but we can’t??? I guess they “forgot about the children” on this one.

  • Shap

    This cop-shooting event in my mind says only one thing. Focus. Where is the focus of our criminal justice system? Busting people for marijuana dust? Busting networks used for drug distribution? These offenders are given mandatory minimum sentences. Yet people like this guy who murdered these four cops got slap-on-the-wrist parole treatment. He should have been in jail for life. Thrown away the key. People like him should be locked up for as close to forever as possible. However, people convicted of “moral” offenses like possession or sales of drugs, gambling, prostitution, should not even be on law enforcement’s radar. It is due to the focus on these victimless “crimes” that have caused the de-prioritization of serious crimes like murder and rape.

  • Bruce

    Initializing justicesystemfixer.exe
    Fixing…………………….
    Found 348,447,364 unfixable hidden justice system files
    Unable to fix justice system
    The justice system cannot be repaired.
    Manual removal recycling and reallocation of individual corrupted files recommended.
    Do you wish to continue? Y/N

  • Cliff

    “People like him should be locked up for as close to forever as possible. However, people convicted of “moral” offenses like possession or sales of drugs, gambling, prostitution, should not even be on law enforcement’s radar. It is due to the focus on these victimless “crimes” that have caused the de-prioritization of serious crimes like murder and rape.”

    I have been convinced for some time now that cannabis consumption makes one a ‘political dissident’ in our system. If you look at the old Soviet Gulag system, you will find that political prisoners were given the worst treatment of all prisoners. Murderers and thugs were often given more slack than the political prisoners.

  • Cliff

    Bruce;

    That comment is full of win.

  • DdC

    you will find that political prisoners were given the worst treatment of all prisoners.

    I think we inherited more than just the Czar from the USSR.
    I agree, Ganja makes one question authoritah! Giving them ideas…

    “Not only are we here to protect the public from vicious criminals
    in the street but also to protect the public from harmful ideas.”
    ~ Robert Ingersoll – Former DEA Director (1972)

    “”Ideas are far more powerful than guns.
    We don’t allow our enemies to have guns,
    why should we allow them to have ideas?
    ~ Joseph Stalin

    As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression.
    In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged,
    and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air,
    however slight,
    lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
    ~ Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

  • just me

    Glad to see someone beat me to comments on this lowlife that murdered those 4 police officers. Its crap like this that Senator Webs commission should be discussing. You get busted with cannabis and your a lifer, you murder and rape, they let you out. This is sooo wrong!

    Hey bruce…lol.. Excellent!
    Bruce 1
    Justice system 0

  • DdC

    Barter for Justice? Plea Bargains on sale… Just Us…
    404 Blind Justice seeing no evidence.
    3 strikes Mandatory Minimums… Jury Deterrents.
    Al Capone and Watergate… D.C. Blue plate special:
    White Elephant Red Herrings smothered in pork.

    Politicians selecting the Supreme Court is like hiring perverts to get kids to piss in a cup. As long as money determines outcomes justice is just a commodity. Run by the BAR rules. Perpetuate. Politics are the art of ConPromise. Meaning the goal is to reach the middle with half of what we had. Usually ending up with less, then pay for the privilege. Governments are not parents granting permission. They are chosen to represent the will of we the people. We don’t let the garage tell us where we have to drive. We don’t even have to take what the doctor prescribes, its our choice. Yet we let chicken little profiteers dictate, lie and weasel without protest, or protest that is heard. We are not soft on crime wanting legal dope. Drug Worrier Politicians are soft on crime protecting Banks laundering money and cops confiscating Christmas presents and retirement ranches. These are the scoundrels that disgrace Justice, cheapen it with lies and fear mongering. War criminals the same as Biraq Obomba and Boosheney Inc.

    Justice for All… The judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog. Officer Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog. And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry, ’cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice, and there wasn’t nothing he could do about it,

    “Casual drug users should be taken out and shot.”
    ~Daryl DARE Gates – Father of SWAT

    Film Clip Shows Marilyn Monroe Smoking Marijuana
    A home movie showing a relaxed Marilyn Monroe apparently smoking marijuana has surfaced, retrieved from an attic some 50 years after it was filmed.

  • Bruce

    Hey cool, I’m in
    Hmm main Folder ‘Justice system’
    contains 771 subfolders named ‘Justice System’
    Each contains eye blurring stacks of funny icons called ‘legalese’
    Hmm I’ll click on one…”Notwithstanding on at or near do hereupon make compulsory…”
    Oy oy oo ahh hmm try another…”All funds to be payable forthwith in legal…”
    Ohh! heres one! A folder titled ‘Member Benefits, Just us’
    clllick
    “Upon reciept of said sum in brown envelope you are to remove 60s hypno coin from shirt pocket and erase the implanted data from your mind.”

  • just me

    From the looks of things here and there, People are beating the hell outta our political wardens.
    Dont think they care though, they just keep spending, lying, incarcerating,filling their pockets, and ignoring the fact the torches are lite and they are surrounded by the beast of their own making. As soon as they forget this beast is waiting outside the gates, it WILL walk in and deliver it retribution , for it has been treated terribly by its wardens.

  • Jesse

    @ Bruce…

    Ive read that justicesystemfixer.exe is a flawed program nowadays, they’ve stopped updating the definitions.. the virus has gotten too smart…

    You’re going to have to wipe that hard drive and reinstall windows I think.

    (haha i didn’t mean to piggyback on your genius comment but I was inspired)

  • Jesse

    oh and actually, fuck “windows”…

    That whole operating system is what got us neck deep in virus in the first place

  • pvt pyle

    In re: Senate Bill 714.

    Senator Leahy is an ex-prosecutor who refers still to marijuana as an illegal drug. My correspondence with him has garnered the same stone wall no matter what the argument. Otherwise he is an effective liberal.

  • kaptinemo

    Pvt. Pyle, WRT to the matter of pols having to say what they must to get elected, it will soon become very clear, as the economy continues to contract, that there’s political ‘hay’ to be made for speaking up for the New Frugality. And that means that whoever takes the forefront of the political pack and begins to talk about the terrible wastefulness of the DrugWar will be able to claim ‘leadership’ on the issue.

    When the rest of the media and the public awaken to the realization that a huge pool of badly-needed funding is just waiting to be re-allocated from the DrugWar and diveted into things like Universal Health Care and Unemployment, it will suddenly become trendy for pols like Leahy to stop stonewalling and make a volteface on supporting the DrugWar.

    ‘When the people lead, the leaders follow’…and invarialy the leaders try to claim having been leading all along. Fine. I don’t care. History will show which organizations and individuals were instrumental in ending this travesty. Right now, if some shallow opportunistic pols want to make as if they’re the vanguard when plenty of good people have worked their arses off paving the way, that’s okay by me…for now.

    But I also want a kind of ‘Truth and Reconciliation Committee’ to be held, in which the terrible human costs of the DrugWar are laid bare for all to see, so that future generations might remember that the DrugWar was fascism’s handmaiden, and that no one should ever entertain a similar idea ever again.

  • Duncan

    Well I guess I wasted my time writing my letter. My Senator is on the committee but is a co-sponsor of the bill. But he sure did write me a long winded reply email. I might need to write him about other stuff.