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August 2012
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If the Drug Czar has his mouth open, he’s probably lying

Well, we know he’s required by law to lie, but he does it so… enthusiastically.

Mike Riggs has a good piece at Reason: Obama’s Drug Czar Is Lying to You About Drug Courts

He points out a couple of areas where Kerlikowske is either lying, uninformed, or both.

Interestingly, the article also points out one of the real problems with drug courts. Research has shown that drug courts can be effective in terms of cost savings over incarceration if they’re used for high-risk populations. But in practical terms, drug courts cherry-pick those who are put into the program, often selecting participants who have no drug problem to begin with.

This chart shows the breakdown of primary drug in drug court recipients in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

Marijuana is way too large a percentage — but it makes sense since marijuana, as an illicitly-used drug, is a major cash cow for drug courts, for treatment centers, for drug testing companies, and so many more.

From a rent seeking point of view, this practice–called “cherry picking” by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers–makes perfect sense: Federal drug court funding is contingent on keeping participants clean of alcohol and drugs for at least 12 months, and having a lower recidivism rate for drug court graduates. If you’re a first-time drug offender and you’re not addicted, you’re more likely than a hardcore addict to stay clean for the duration of drug court, and less likely to reoffend (or get caught reoffending) once you’ve graduated. That means you help drug courts keep their numbers up, which helps keep them flush with grants.

I also really appreciated Mike Riggs’ advice for journalists:

Here’s a pro tip for journalists covering the drug war, or any other policy issue: Do your homework and then ask real questions. Whether the drug court model is spreading, as The Root interviewer above asks, is not nearly as important as whether it works as advertised. And that’s why journalists need to do homework; because Kerlikowske says they work as advertised, and independent research says they don’t.

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13 comments to If the Drug Czar has his mouth open, he’s probably lying

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    Virginia requires that people convicted of drug charges enroll in and successfully complete an accredited drug rehabilitation program. There’s no discretion allowed the sentencing Judge. Back in the 1990s my primary source got himself busted and did a 5 year bit for cannabis possession w/intent. After release he went through the mandated program. Since he didn’t get high he didn’t have any problems completing the program. But gosh, what a waste of resources. They don’t come any more straight edge than my friend.

    • Drug Courts feeding non problematic users of marijuana to rehab programs is just abuse all the way around. Its a money making scheme without a sound purpose, and the term cherry picking is very appropriate. Calling it cherry picking is actually a nice term with sugar coating.

      This practice is a scam.

      Why would any treatment center turn away the gravy job of fixing something that is not broke? The money vs the effort ratio means big profits for no real work.

      • Windy

        The same thing is true of DV “classes”. There is very little going on in them that actually helps anyone who is an abuser of some kind, and sometimes as many as half of the mandated attendees are victims of abuse rather than abusers, but the attendees sure do pay a lot out of their own (sometimes nearly empty) pockets to attend these relatively useless “classes”.

        • War Vet

          In my rural hood, if you are at a person’s house who is on Drug Court terms and the probation officer (or whoever does the Drug Court) comes over for a visit to piss test the resident, his friends must submit a test too if the drug court officer believes the company the resident keeps uses drugs. If the friends don’t pee, the resident can be taken back to several steps or have his drug court revoked and go to jail. If the friends piss dirty that might be cause to do a search of the residence and visitors or removal out of the home to live in dorms. Sometimes the one in drug court are required to live in worker dorms (like Job Corps) and the money they make goes to paying for the cost of drug court, while offering cheep labor to the company. But I live in a state that has harsher sentences for manufacturing hashish (life) than for sex offenders . . . cho-mos sometimes get off easier than a first or second time meth cooking case for violations worse than indecent exposure . . . sometimes coke distribution is worse than rape and growing pot might be worse than fucking a little boy in the Bible Belt . . . I worked with a sex offender who loved little boys and he got caught a second time a few years after he was released.

  • Another good article by Mike Riggs:
    Want to Go to Drug Court? Say Goodbye to Your Rights http://tinyurl.com/95nx97k

    • strayan

      Good comment over there. There should be a way of inviting these people to Pete’s couch.

      ‘These cocksuckers just can’t bring themselves to admit that the war on drugs is a failure and we can’t arrest our way into their version of morality.’

      I think it’s even worse than that.

      They can’t bring themselves to admit that everyone who doesn’t obey their drug laws isn’t suffering from a disorder.

      To their self-image, “refusing to obey them” can’t be excused by anything other than pathology. So they see that the drug law is a failure, and rather than blame themselves they declare it a “public health problem”. They’re surrounded by addicts who are helpless to resist drugs, you see, and all those poor people need treatment.

      That’s why the most important aspect of drug courts – more important than any of the standard Kafkaesque bureaucracy compliance shit Riggs is talking about here – is that you submit to “treatment”. Because from the state’s perspective, you have to admit that you’re essentially insane before they’ll be willing to tolerate the fact that you defied their will. No other reason is permissible.

  • Dante

    If drug court was effective, wouldn’t there eventually be less need for them?

    But no, they are multiplying like cockroaches in a dirty kitchen. Just like every other part of the war on drugs, the drug courts are a waste of limited resources and are growing like weeds, but they accomplish none of their stated goals.

    My greatest hope is that when (not if) this country comes to it’s senses and ends prohibition, the drug warriors will be harshly punished for the harm they have done.

  • Francis

    Ordinary criminal courts use coercion backed by the threat of violence to cage people whose only “crime” is being unlucky enough to get caught in possession of a politically-disfavored substance. “Drug courts” are a completely different animal. They use coercion backed by the threat of violence to force people to attend “treatment” they don’t need and jump through a variety of other hoops, like peeing on command for strangers. If the “drug offenders” fail to satisfactorily complete all the hoops, they’re caged. See the difference? That’s why we should listen to the drug warriors when they claim that drug courts are a “more humane” and “evidence-based” approach to drug policy. Because what could be more “evidence-based” than treating people who aren’t sick? And what’s more “humane” than violence?

  • claygooding

    I hope Kerli makes enough wages and pension so when he finishes his tour of drug czar,,cause then he will quit being an administration cop and go into being the lieing worthless piece of shit he is.

    What city or state would hire an idiot that takes a job requiring him to lie and deny all common sense,especially in the law enforcement field.

  • CJ

    THANK YOU PETE its been a GOOD weekend on your page. im happy with it – not being sarcastic. Ive been very happy with the work youve done this weekend. KUDOS TO YOU.

    I know i can be a poopy woopy tooshy face to you and the people here sometimes im sorry the pot bias still drives me absolutely nuts…and itt wouldnt if the page were called potwarrant but its drug war rant which is how i found it… AHH sorry i didnt mean to spoil compliments back to the point – i give you big kudos and a big hug and say great job this weekend.

    this drug court article is GREAT – UNDER REPORTED PETE IT IS A CRYING SHAME this stuff doesnt get more attention as it is SO VERY IMPORTANT

    I never heard of this article writer in my life until today and i am very GREATFUL to you Pete for introducing us to him BECAUSE this dude goes into my book now – ah my book it is a list of names of people who contribute to our cause of ending prohibition and next to their name is why ive put them there i.e what they’ve done to contribute to our cause. wether its a journalist with a groundbreaking or awesome piece, an excellent blogger, or say someone like Dr. Andrew Tartarsky who started a group like Moderation Management/Maintenance basically an AA sorta thing except for people who do drugs and want to continue to do drugs but may need help. Then theres doctors whove been involved in SALOME and NAOMI and other heroin management treatments.. The insite folks – a personal hero and someone ive had the extreme honor of speaking to and calling a mentor Francis Moraes PHD of heroinhelper .com author of so many great heroin related books articles and pieces. oh i could go on and on . Well pete youve long been in my book now this dude goes in and the idea is i will one day send awards out to these people and make sure they know their contributions will go down in history and it is important my real hope is to one day have a monument made for the people.

    So Drug Courts

    let me tell you about drug court.

    OH THIS WRITER IS SO RIGHT and SO ARE YOU PETE

    oh it makes me hate Gil so much more than i already do.

    well

    i know ive read the ocassional comment from people who say they are with us – us reformists – all the way BUT they actually dont do drugs and dont have any interest. OK cool. thanks for being with us guys. So to those of you/us who do drugs…well if youve been lucky enough to avoid arrest… namu amida butsu to you but listen, if it happens… guys please trust me – DO NOT ACCEPT DRUG COURT. DO NOT!!!

    drug court is the worst option. I was arrested within the past 2 years i forget if it was a year or two years ago. As soon as my initial hearing began the prosecutor a nd my attorney whom id had not met everybody had already arranged drug court for me. OK lets back track a second, about 4-5 months before my arrest in NYC i was in FLA enjoying the tail end of the opiate mania going on. While there various circumstances occurred and i was coerced into rehabs and halfway houses. I was fortunate to roommate with a DRUG COURT *VICTIM* let me tell you something, there were folks there in these halfways and rehabs that were court ordered, let me NOT get started on some states ABSOLUTELY OBSURD rule with the whole being able to force family members via court order into rehab – ITS TRUE but i digress. So there WERE folks in these places court ordered following arrest but not because of drug court. Then there were folks there because of drug court.

    DRUG COURT IS A DEATH SENTENCE THAT WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE FOREVER.

    my friend was facing a felony it would have become a misdemeanor OR VIOLATION should he have completed drug court. Drug Court is to be a YEAR he had been in Florida dealing with this charge for 3 years.

    You live in fear every single morning. Every morning, no matter what you have planned, you have to call a phone number – when you join drug court your assigned a color, its random. This color is one of several colors. Every morning at random a color is chosen by the drug court and this color has to show up, NO MATTER WHAT, to drug test. If your getting married your family was massacred by a zombie attack and its funeral day, doesnt matter, DO NOT PASS GO GO TO YOUR DRUG TEST, if you DO NOT then you will POSSIBLY get kicked out of the program. BELIEVE IT OR NOT there is no 3 strikes your out. ITS ALL AT THE WHIM of your supervisor whom more often than not is working a thankless job he knows his clients absolutely hate him, his life is full of hatred for his clients and the fact is he is surrounded by people that hate him. Imagine your life if you were basically dealing with people all day everyday who you knew hated your guts? Eh? not really a great existence. Its on these bigoted, idiots to decide if you get another chance. Say you’ve SOMEHOW managed to survive 11 months and 29 days and say somehow youve been clean this whole time you call up an take that drug test, lets say youre PERFECTLY CLEAN AND SOBER AND HAVE BEEN – lets say you turn up dirty – a false dirty but it doesnt matter guess what this kinda thing happens ALL THE TIME one of the many SICK SCREWED UP IMPERFECTIONS of DRUG TESTING THE SICK INDUSTRY THAT IT IS. Indeed, happens often, for no reason, a clean and sober person can test dirty. Ive seen it many times. Its even happened to me many times. Its not a rarity. Ive seen a person who had never in their life done drugs, drank alcohol etc. on pain of death turn up dirty on drug tests im talking about a priestly type person who absolutely was allergic to narcotics beyond a personal dislike for them who i would bet my life never even seen a drug aside from the representation of one in a photo or TV and they tested dirty.

    To that drug court victim who was clean and sober and made it toa day or two away from escape? they can be kicked out, technically they’re supposed to be kicked out and guess what? its do not pass go, go straight back to jail, no time served, drug court time doesnt count. If you were facing 3 years you’ll do all 3 years. Thats the way it goes. They could also make you restart the drug court thing. That is what was going on with my room mate. He’d put together a couple of months of either being clean or beating drug tests through various means only to screw up or get caught and have to start over. Eventually he threw up his hands and took the felony. His life is ruined and now he has AIDS and is not gonna live much longer.

    I mentioned to you guys that one of my life ambitions is to see the stigmatization and destruction of the rehab industry particularly AA/NA/CA/?A whatever A it is. Let me tell you something, these organizations are SICK. theyre so F’N MESSED UP AND CORRUPT AND VILE AND VILLANIOUS AND JADED AND EVIL EVIL EVIL.

    ESPECIALLY half way houses.

    you may think im lying or exaggerating right now but im not. Ill tell you the basic business structure for a half way house, ive lived in plenty they’re all the same.

    The bottom line is this – when you join a half way house you have to pay first month last month AND the “administration fee” ok, you follow so far? Now the thing about halfways is that the prices to live, compared to paying rent at normal apartment is GREAT, i mean you can find yourself a living situation NO JOKE for around 150-200 bucks a week. I’ve even seen 100$ a week situations. Compared to a 2,500$ apartment? i’ve actually met people who live in half way houses who have no drug problems, no criminal history, never even did drugs in their adult life aside from the ole “yea i smoked a lil weed in high school” deal who concoct crazy stories of drug life JUST so they can live in the half way and if you dont care about drugs or doing drugs and are “eh whatever” about certain rules and obligations the halfways impose, then, hey, 400$ a month for rent isnt so bad.

    I DIGRESS, so get this, typical halfway house owner is a jaded, disgruntled, jerk, miserable hate filled, hate ridden ignorant AA veteran. Listen, I’ve seen it. If it’s not this miserable type who hates his life then its the other type its the person who has had nothing to do with drugs ever in their life, is the over educated, mommy and daddy sent them to private school, rich loser picked on all the time growing up type who sees halfways as a money endeavor and thats where we come to the point. IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY. wether its the jaded AA vet or the devious and evil rich guy, the scheme is the same and this is the scheme:

    the administration fees are a one time deal but they are large amounts of money. From my experience, the most common charge I’ve seen has been 800$. But Sometimes its $600 sometimes $1,000 +. EVEN THOUGH halfway houses ARE NOT EXACTLY rehab programs they will often call themselves a program, dont forget, the sick and disgusting AA people believe they are always working a “program” and in this case they are working both your wallet and your life.

    See the halfway house programs all have these universal rules, the exorbidant initial fee AND the right to kick you out FOR ANY REASON. *ANY* reason.

    Often halfway houses go through periods of washing out all their clients or most of them. These situations occur multiple times a year.

    All halfway houses drug test. Some more strict than others. All halfway houses demand you go to AA meetings everyday and usually they demand proof of attendance (usually the signature of the person “running” the meeting) if you fail a drug test, you get kicked out. THERE IS NO SECOND CHANCE in HALFWAY HOUSES. seriously. DOES NOT MATTER how much tenure you have. This is why its because the halfway houses make the money on those administration fees. Halfway houses live off them. The money for halfway houses is in the initiation fee. If someone said you could have 2000 bucks today or 4000 over the course of a year, sorry but most people will take the 2K. The halfway house works like this – they always have people wanting to come in. Unfortunately its not convenient for halfway houses for people to be in compliance. They will kick you out for having a dirty room even if youve hired a cleaner to clean it! BUT THAT COULD GET YOU KICKED OUT AS WELL BECAUSE MOST HALFWAY HOUSES HAVE RULES FORBIDDING ANYBODY EVEN OTHER HALFWAY HOUSE RESIDENTS FROM BEING ALLOWED INTO YOUR HOME.

    They can kick you out and NOT give you a reason. Standard protocol with halfway houses is that people have to have left the premises for 48-72 hours before being allowed to reapply for entry if they’ve been kicked out. Believe it or not, so many idiots will get kicked out of a halfway and come back 72 hours later to live there again.

    IT DOESNT MATTER though YOU STILL have to pay that 800 fee AGAIN. DOESNT MATTER if youve lived in a given halfway house for 5 years and were an ideal resident the whole time, SHOOT, MAYBE YOU EVEN THOUGHT YOU AND THE HALFWAY HOUSE OWNER WERE FRIENDS!! HA!! Thats how they make their money and you have to pay that 800 again. YOU ALSO have to pay 1st and last again. Its basically as though you were never there. The halfway houses kick people out and streamline new residents all hading over the heavy up front fees.

    I’ve seen people get kicked out for no reason. Simply the halfway house manager walks into the apartment and says pack your stuff up and get out. Why? I dont like you. Your bad for the community. WTF? Oh but we can reconsider your status after the mandatory 72 hours you’ve got to be gone from the premises for. OF COURSE YOU MAY BE “GOOD FOR THE COMMUNITY” when you’ve paid up those fees again.

    The sad thing is so many of these places are in bed with so many detoxes and rehabs – its pathetic and its sick. They are staples of the drug court GAME. The halfway house situations ruin lives in the drug court game. You fail if you get kicked out. Simply put if the halfway house manager wants to kick you out because he is short on paying his rent or his bills and has a potential new resident ready to pay 1st and last month and the 800$ fee, your history, it doesnt matter if youve got drug court going on and because of being kicked out will lose those 8 months youve had to fight for your very life to obtain. You will go to jail and do you 8 year sentence and be a felon OR you will start drug court over again.

    To think all of this because you enjoy drugs. Thats it. You like doing something and a group of well to do, ignorant, cowardly, pathetic people around 80 years ago decided that you werent allowed. doesnt matter that they had a choice themselves wether to do or not to do drugs, they simply decided they had the god given right to tell you what to do with your personal life, they decided they were special enough to be able to demand you have the same beliefs and extra-caricular desires as they.

    Drug Court is BAD. its scary. ITS SCARY that an idea like drug court comes about. You see this is why I say one of the most DANGEROUS things for US as REFORMISTS is for a so called ex drug user to EVER be involved in the upper echeleon of the drug czars office if not making an AA veteran the drug czar. It’s ideas like drug court that make our movement, our lives, our revolution forestalled. FOR BE THERE NO DOUBT – we are RIGHT. WE ARE ON THE SIDE OF WHAT IS MORALLY RIGHT – that NO HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE ANOTHER, THAT NO HUMAN BEING REGARDLESS OF RELIGION, SKIN COLOR, SEXUAL PREFERENCE, SIZE OF GENITALIA OR WHATEVER HAS THE RIGHT TO ENFORCE UPON ANOTHER HUMAN BEING THEIR WILL. We are right. That is why we will win this “drug war.” It is inevitable. THE ONLY thing we’ve to contend with is time. It doesnt matter what Kevin Sabet, Gil Kirlikowske, Neil Cavuto or whoever, Bill O’Reilly says. It just doesnt. And the money, the massive massive amounts of money that drug warriors are “addicted” to, that too can only delay us but it wont stop us. JUST PLAINLY, our cause is just and unbeatable. We will win this drug war, its only a matter of when. The issue is that convoluted things like drug court, these little crafty mechanisms of the sick and corrupt prohibition system can serve to delay our ultimate victory and frustrate our circumstances and sadly, hurt our people. OUR PEOPLE.

    so in closing guys, listen, when i got pinched last and they tried to drug court me i basically challenged the D.A to throw me in jail. I told my attorney that absolutely under no circumstances was drug court or rehab acceptable. I would prefer a year in jail over a year in rehab. I fought the DA, i fought him to make him do his job and prosecute me and he wouldn’t. They stalled my case 3 times and the judge was also getting upset, aside from assuming and perhaps wanting me to do drug court as well, he eventually said to the D.A wtf are you doing, you guys dont even have the weight of the heroin this guy got arrested for, if you dont have your crap together by the next court date, this whole business is gonna be dismissed. They continued to try and intimidate me. Tried to say if I didnt accept drug court I’d be looking at up to 15 years because of the amount of drugs I had. Guess what happened? I continued to dare them to do their job (btw, i was illegally searched by cops too so there is some more to this but its not relevant right now) and at the end of the day thank NAMU AMIDA BUTSU because after being arrested for having a dirty needle, 20+ empties of heroin and an semi automatic switchblade (i was homeless for a long time and it was my only way to protect myself) guess what? i was able to get off pleading no contest to a disorderly conduct violation. THATS ALL. paid a fine, do not go to drug court do not pass go do not get raped by the system. So I would encourage any and all of you to fight them, never accept drug court. NEVER.

    although i hate pot elitism, we are all on the same team guys and when pot is legalized i hope you guys stick around and dont bail.

    have a good weekend everyone

    great job this weekend Pete.

  • Servetus

    Interesting chart. The cultural demographics for alcohol and prescription drugs make rural areas the dominant group for Drug Court victimization in that category.

    Other studies show rural areas have higher alcohol induced traffic fatalities because of the long roads used to get to drug courts, or anywhere else, combined with a sub-standard or non-existent public transit system. Their traditionally strict anti-drug laws have no positive effect, just like anywhere else.

    Favoring marijuana use and de-emphasizing alcohol and some other types of downers, maybe conducted through some kind of truthful public awareness program, could save some lives, given that marijuana induced fatalities do not exist.

    Switching the culture-based drug of choice would be a logical thing to do, if only rural America were known for its use of logic. Abstinence and parasitic prohibitionists dominate the thinking and leadership of red state culture. Just say no…thou shalt not…psychological torture…. Red state Americans might consider doing something constructive for themselves by letting their various leaders know better ways exist. The lives they save may be their own.