Vin Suprynowicz at the Las Vegas Review-Journal has an interesting proposal — creating the International Brotherhood of Drug War Victims.
What’s the sales pitch for joining and — in the case of those who can afford it — paying sizable dues into our new war chest?
Simple: Our freedom-hating, pain-loving War on Drugs depends on the tactic of “overcharging,” and then offering attractive deals — reduced charges, easier sentences — in exchange for guilty pleas. Fewer than 5 percent of all drug cases ever go to trial.
Again, the drug war depends on this — if every drug arrest led to a trial, the courts would be so swamped that some defendants couldn’t be scheduled for trial dates for many years into the future. Their attorneys could then win complete dismissal of all charges based on the violation of the constitutional right to a speedy trial.
So all members of our new union need to do is this: Agree to demand a jury trial. No plea bargains — no guilty pleas, ever. Otherwise, please don’t join. […]
What will the Fearless Drug Warriors do? Even with only 25 percent of drug defendants joining up and participating, trials that can now be started within a year will have to be scheduled at least three years into the future. The Drug Warriors will have no choice but to prosecute their “worst” cases first, turning at least two thirds of all drug defendants loose.
Of course, the article was done partly in fun, but it smartly points out another horrific aspect of the war on drugs. The war on drugs requires the use of a buffet of seemingly unconstitutional and outrageous penalties in order to scare citizens into giving up their constitutional right to a jury trial (to the point where many who are innocent are so terrified that they’ll plead guilty). This is because the system is so broken that actually allowing people to assert their constitutional rights would cause it to collapse under its own weight.
What kind of constitution requires its citizens to wager 10 or 20 years of their life in order to take advantage of its protections?