A Decade After 9/11, Police Departments Are Increasingly Militarized – Radley Balko with a must-read piece in the Huffington Post.
The problem with this mingling of domestic policing with military operations is that the two institutions have starkly different missions. The military’s job is to annihilate a foreign enemy. Cops are charged with keeping the peace, and with protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents. It’s dangerous to conflate the two. As former Reagan administration official Lawrence Korb once put it, “Soldiers are trained to vaporize, not Mirandize.” That distinction is why the U.S. passed the Posse Comitatus Act more than 130 years ago, a law that explicitly forbids the use of military troops in domestic policing.
Over the last several decades Congress and administrations from both parties have continued to carve holes in that law, or at least find ways around it, mostly in the name of the drug war. And while the policies noted above established new ways to involve the military in domestic policing, the much more widespread and problematic trend has been to make our domestic police departments more like the military.
Viewpoint: Why Tough-Love Rehab Won’t Die by Maia Szalavitz at Time.
On Wednesday, TIME.com reported on the phenomenon of “blood cashews,” nuts produced for export in Vietnamese drug-rehabilitation programs where addicts are forced to perform “labor therapy,” such as sewing clothes, making bricks or, most commonly, shelling cashews.
Last Sunday, the New York Times described Russia’s harsh new treatment camps, where addicts are locked up for as long as a month in “quarantine rooms” to endure withdrawal.
And last week a lawsuit was refiled against a Utah-based school for teens with drug or behavioral problems, with 350 former students alleging that the school engaged in abusive disciplinary tactics like locking students in outdoor dog cages overnight.
Yet, to date, there has been no evidence that the use of forced labor, public humiliation or generally brutal confrontation has ever been effective in rehabilitating people with drug problems â€” or any other kind of problem, for that matter. What’s more, when tough-love approaches are compared directly with kinder treatment alternatives for addiction, the studies find that compassionate strategies win by a large margin.
So why does the whip-’em-into-shape approach continue to get re-invented around the world?
We start recognizing that drug users are our brothers and sisters, our daughters and sons, our mothers and fathers, whether we know they are using or not. For that reason in the Netherlands the term they often use for drug users is â€˜Dutch citizens who use drugsâ€™ which is a pertinent reminder of the fact that they are still Dutch citizens. This term is used in policy statements. The Dutch are pragmatists and realize that it is always better to regulate the practice that the majority may not like but cannot stamp out. Whether it be gambling, prostitution etc. â€“ if you canâ€™t eradicate it then let it happen but with regulation.
A study was done comparing South Australia, which had just decriminalized cannabis, to Western Australia, where there were draconian penalties. The WA group were much more likely to have lost a job, accommodation or relationship. They were alienated and very angry. The SA group was much less likely to be in this position. The WA police were horrified and a WA Labor government then altered their policy. The current Barnett government has just gone back to Draconian penalties, even though cannabis use has been in decline.
It is also important to remember that money spent on prosecuting cannabis offenders is money thatâ€™s not available for prosecuting rapists, murders and perpetrators of violent crime. My view is that the police have an important role to play and Iâ€™d much rather they were solving violent crimes than doing a job in which they can never succeed, regarding illegal drugs.