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The Criminal Justice System is the wrong tool for the job

Nice to see this brought up at the Emmy Awards:

Michael Douglas slams U.S. prison system after Emmy win

Continued Douglas: “Obviously at first, I was certainly disappointed in my son. But I’ve reached a point now where I’m very disappointed with the system. And as you can see from what Attorney General Eric Holder has been doing regarding our prison system, I think things are going to be revived, regarding nonviolent drug addicts. My last comment on that is the United States represents 5 percent of the world’s population and we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.”

Some day, we will look back at this era of using the criminal justice system to deal with drugs in much the same way we now look at barbers’ use of bloodletting to balance the humors.

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26 comments to The Criminal Justice System is the wrong tool for the job

  • allan

    Michael Douglas quoting the 5%/25% incarceration stat is a great sign that all these years of so many of us info bombing the interwwweb with our comments, letters (blogs!)… all that repetition… is paying off.

    When the heat rising from the bottom gets hot enough the uh, proverbial pot will come to a boil.

  • claygooding

    I am glad using the judicial system for treating a health issue didn’t work,,think what would have come next,,SWAT raids on McDonalds and Burger Hing for anyone ordering a double meat cheeseburger?

    • Jean Valjean

      I know addict behavior when I sees it…that tunnel vision which can only focus on the object of absolute need, the must have it now syndrome….
      every so often I get my bicycle out and ride down the sidewalk of a street which is littered with McDonald’s, Burger King and all the rest. I have learnt to never assume the right of way or that a driver has even seen me when they are entering the drive through, or even worse, leaving it. They are clearly in an altered state and, burger in hand, are far more dangerous to others than your average cannabis consumer.

  • N.T. Greene

    It’s funny, because IIRC this sort of thing was brought up in the very first episode of Star Trek: TNG (“Encounter at Farpoint”). Also funny is the fact that I would love to use this two-part episode in a class on Science Fiction someday. In it, the omnipotent Q basically puts all of humanity on trial by testing the crew of the Enterprise. When he accuses humans of being barbaric based on their past (particularly the period following World War III), there is this exchange between Q and Picard:

    “And later, on finally reaching deep space, Humans found enemies to fight out there, too. And to broaden those struggles, you again found allies for still more murdering! The same old story all over again!”

    “No, the same old story is the one we’re meeting now. Self-righteous life-forms who are eager, not to learn but to prosecute, to judge anything they don’t understand or can’t tolerate.”

    One of the reasons I like science fiction as a genre (and consider it one of the most useful in terms of social commentary) is because we can look forward to see what is possible while looking back with a critical eye at the present.

    Perhaps this is somewhat off topic, but I think this stuff has to do with the War on Drugs at least.

    • allan

      not OT at all. Many here are fans of the sci-fi/speculative fiction genre. With folks like Heinlein and Asimov, Ellison, Anthony, Delaney and the other thinkers of the genre, ideas flow like sweet water off a cold mountainside.

      I think it was a Harlan Ellison tale… civilization in decline… a man sitting on a window ledge smoking, he flips the butt out the window. His companion says, “why don’t you use an ashtray?” The man replies, “because this one’s not full yet.” ouch

  • Jean Valjean

    ” And as you can see from what Attorney General Eric Holder has been doing regarding our prison system, I think things are going to be revived, regarding nonviolent drug addicts.”
    Don’t hold your breath Michael.

  • Jillian Galloway

    I absolutely agree. I feel like we’re back in the time when people thought that tomatoes were deadly poisonous, and we’re saying “look this plant is wonderful, it’s so good for you and a lot of people would be far better off using it”, and all we get back is “it’s a BAD plant and should be illegal!”.

    History will prove them wrong just as history proved the tomato haters wrong. How many millions of people will have to be arrested before this happens is anyone’s guess.

  • John

    “Some day, we will look back at this era of using the criminal justice system to deal with drugs in much the same way we now look at barbers’ use of bloodletting to balance the humors.”

    Great new Guitherism Pete! You should definitely put this one into the rotation at the top of your blog.

  • Ned

    When IEDs are exploding and bombs are falling, everyone can “get” the potential for PTSD. But when the SWAT team kills your pet and terrifies your children followed by incarceration will actual violent criminals, forfeiture of your savings and valuables, loss of job and income and options for living a good life, well that’s a cause of PTSD too. That’s where the “cure” is far more harmful than the disease.

    Most Americans either have no idea how genuinely harsh our justice system is to non violent “offenders”, or they accept it as suitable “punishment” for foolish transgressors.

  • DdC

    OT? But when is Rayguns ever off topic…
    btw I don’t even know where Temecula is. It said Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and I hear R/S BS a bit. It is not a civilized place for cannabis, I would not visit. Time to stop our leaders from taking liberties, on reality. I’m not for this kind of anarchy. I’ve told the goth kids and street urchins it is not anarchy when you make corporations profits replacing broken windows or burned statues. Or giving the copshop’s overtime writing things down, standing around more as an infestation. Even if they catch someone, then they cage them at even more tax dollars wasted. OK, raygun burned in effigy did make me smile. Latest is dividing the state into three parts. OKfine with me if they sent San DEAgo back to Mexico….

    The Serfs Are Rebelling As Ronald Reagan Statue Gets Torched in California
    Arsonists set fire to a life size Ronald Reagan statue at a California sports park. Interestingly, only the Reagan statue was damaged.

    Maybe this was a symbolic political attack on the Republican Founding Father of trickle down income inequality? Could it be that the attack on the statue was motivated by politics? It is delicious irony that after House Republicans voted to deny healthcare to tens of millions of Americans and cut off food assistance for an additional 3.8 million people, Ronnie goes up in flames. People aren’t stupid. They see what the Republican Party is doing.

  • claygooding

    I keep telling people that Reagon was responsible for NAFTA and he was,,it was born under his administration,,signed by Bush and went into effect under Clinton.
    Eventually America will figure out that NAFTA moved more jobs out of America than any other government policy and they will drag Ronnie’s statue down Penn Ave and beat it apart just like Sadam’s in Baghdad.

  • Servetus

    Marijuana users are as healthy as anyone else. That’s the conclusion of researchers at the Boston University Medical Center:

    “Even though we could not compare marijuana users to those who used no drugs at all, our findings suggest that marijuana use has little measurable effect on self-reported health or healthcare utilization in adults using drugs identified in a primary care clinic,” said lead author Daniel Fuster, MD, a postdoctoral scholar from the Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit at BMC and BUSM.

    So what’s with all the emergency room visits the prohibitionists talk about?

    http://tinyurl.com/n3ensvu

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      One really beautiful spring day a really good friend of mine went to the park, sat in the shade of an ancient tree and smoked a couple of joints. So my friend is just sitting there, stoned to the bejeezus, and a very sudden and violent thunder storm appeared as if from thin air. A wicked bolt of lighting struck one of the branches which hit him in the head and knocked him silly. The ambulance came, the EMTs found a still smoldering roach, and put all the details in their report to the doctors. So don’t kid yourself, cannabis can cause someone to need the ER. Hey, if he hadn’t been smoking that joint, he wouldn’t have been sitting under that tree! If he hadn’t been under the tree he wouldn’t have had a branch clobber him in the head!

      …and DAWN reports yet another ER visit caused by merrywanna.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      While I like the headline this study is pretty darn sketchy. I won’t be using it in my comments.

      So are they just giving everyone who visits the ER a whiz quiz nowadays?

      • claygooding

        The marijuana statistics are taken from entry forms you or a relative must fill out,,it lists drugs in your system so the treating doctor knows what he can give you with as little danger as possible in causing more harm,,they have nothing to do with why you are in the ER.

  • O/T

    Breaking Bad Normalizes Meth, Argues Prosecutor

    I certainly sympathize with those who are concerned about the glorification of methamphetamine. Meth is pure evil. Meth addicts are often barely recognizable as human, and every meth user is an addict; there is no such thing as a casual or social meth user, at least not in the end. People who use that drug will generally continue to do so until it destroys their lives and the lives of the people who care about them.

    Somebody better tell all the kids who take amphetamines for ADHD that they are all addicts who are barely recognizable as human. Adderall is the second most popular illicit drug used by college students (weed is #1), so where are all the meth zombies roaming our college campuses?

    Law-enforcement officers’ duties bring them into contact with the drug-addled on a daily basis, so the proliferation of dangerous drugs directly affects their lives and families more than it might affect yours or mine. And while Breaking Bad may not glorify meth in the sense of making it attractive to the average viewer, it does normalize the idea of meth for a broad segment of society that might otherwise have no knowledge of that dark and dangerous world.

    Before Breaking Bad, relatively few people knew someone whose life had been touched by meth, but now millions more people have an intense emotional connection with at least two: Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. And suddenly, for those spellbound viewers, the idea of people using meth is a little less foreign, a little more familiar. And that false sense of familiarity is inherently dangerous.

    I suppose the viewers of “Dexter” find the idea of serial murder a little less foreign, a little more familiar. And that false sense of familiarity is inherently dangerous…

    • darkcycle

      When I try to sign in to comment, it returns me to the top of the page.

    • N.T. Greene

      Hey, look, logical fallacies!

      I better not be allowed to comment about them. I always cause trouble when I bring the topic of “sound argument” up…

    • N.T. Greene

      And Oh God, familiarity with people whose lives have been touched by drugs?

      How dare they attempt to emotionally connect with their viewers on a topic through relative truths! They should be hanged. Social commentary in a television show should be strictly forbidden.

      I’m being sarcastic, of course.

  • KwebtumRoosensmuck

    “NORTH EAST St Elizabeth Member of Parliament Raymond Pryce yesterday called for the House of Representatives to consider and debate the issue of decriminalisation of marijuana.

    Pryce, in giving notice of the motion during yesterday’s sitting of the House, said members should consider it a human rights issue.

    He said many of Jamaica’s trading partners who once held very strict and rigid views have changed their positions.

    Pryce said criminal records haunt thousands of Jamaicans and their families and suggested that the Parliament debate the practicality of a prescribed amount of marijuana at which or below which there would be no criminal prosecution for the possession for personal use.

    The motion moved by Pryce follows a suggestion by Government Senator Angela Brown Burke in the Senate last Friday that the use of marijuana be legalised for medical reasons.”

    http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130123/lead/lead6.html

    • OOoops!

      Sorry; old article 🙁
      I was misled by the Las Vegas Sun:
      http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/sep/25/cb-jamaica-marijuana-debate/

      • MaybeBaby

        Still looking for a Jamaican article on this. If anybody can find one please point me to it so I can post in the comment section.

        “Lawmakers on Tuesday debated a proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use by adults in Jamaica, where many islanders are expressing weariness with current drug policy.

        There is no bill drafted or vote scheduled, however, and various government administrations have talked about the issue for decades. But it’s lately become a budding topic among Jamaicans, with some arguing that pot could become a major force for the struggling legitimate economy if it was no longer relegated to the underground.”

        http://tinyurl.com/l8kshqx

  • Irie

    Looking through the Gleaner online, here is a commentary from Jamaica…..http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130925/cleisure/cleisure3.html