Everyone wants a piece

One of the entrenched problems of the drug war is there are so many pots of money and power that can be tapped that too many people have a shot of getting some for themselves.

Senator Jim Webb is greatly admired by those of us in the drug policy reform community for his tireless work trying to institute a blue-ribbon commission “to look at every aspect of our criminal justice system with an eye toward reshaping the criminal justice system from top to bottom.”

While the commission was recently shot down in the Senate on 10th Amendment concerns(!), Webb has never wavered in his commitment to criminal justice reform.

As he’s noted: “Irregularities and inequities in America’s criminal justice system challenge our notions of fundamental fairness.”

A great guy to have in the Senate, right?

And yet…

Webb seeks to include all SW Va. counties in federal drug designation

The inclusion of those three localities followed a February request by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., to have all 13 Southwest Virginia counties included in the designation.

In a letter addressed to Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, Webb requested that the review of the remaining counties be expedited to ensure fairness.

“In order to ensure basic fairness in the application of federal resources, I ask that you expedite the inclusion of the remaining 10 Southwest Virginia counties into the Appalachia HIDTA,” Webb wrote in the Oct. 31 letter. “The continuation of Appalachia HIDTA into all 13 Southwest Virginia communities will allow the Appalachia HIDTA to assist the local communities unduly burdened by this regional epidemic, in order to effectively locate and eradicate these systemic drug networks.”

Now what’s the advantage of being designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)? Federal funding.

And how is that funding most commonly used? Creating a multi-agency drug task force.

And from whence do many of the “irregularities and inequities in America’s criminal justice system” that “challenge our notions of fundamental fairness” stem? You guessed it. Drug task forces.

Not only do multi-agency drug task forces lead to systemic abuse, they aren’t particularly good use of funds, as indicated in an audit of the program.

While many task forces are effective, they are too often assembled indiscriminately. Some task forces in the five sites reviewed were put together to address circumstances where an absence of coordination among enforcement agencies was clearly identified as an obstacle to effective enforcement. But such task forces appeared to be the exception more than the norm. More often, it seemed, task forces were created on the assumption that having personnel from different agencies work together would necessarily improve enforcement. Given that individual agencies have distinct operational approaches, procedures, organizational cultures, and esprit de corps, this is not always the case.

Moreover, even task forces that are successful at promoting law enforcement coordination may not always represent the best use of HIDTA resources. At least some of the coordination that occurs under the auspices of HIDTA task forces would take place without HIDTA funding and designation. HZDTA did not invent the idea of coordination among law enforcement agencies, nor is HIDTA the exclusive patron of such efforts.

But to Senator Jim Webb, it’s another source of funding for his constituents that is very popular with law enforcement.

Everyone wants a piece.

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12 Responses to Everyone wants a piece

  1. allan says:

    Hmmm… my first thought… shame on you Jim Webb!

    Second thought… shame on you Jim Webb!

    • claygooding says:

      He still has to get elected at home to be able to change anything Allan and I think the police unions are much stronger on the east coast than in the midwest and southwest part of the country,,so he was politicking with that move.

      I am convinced that only the total failure of our economy will bring about any reform,,in the justice system or prohibition,,we just let the cop dogs get too well entrenched to take them out of running/ruining our country.

  2. claygooding says:

    I hope that when Rep Steve Cohen of the oversight committee asked the Dept of Justice for the total bonus money for marijuana possession paid out to law enforcement agencies,it was to remove possession enforcement from the bonus money list.

    He stated that with over 1/2 the countries young people at odds with the federal government,it was not beneficial to keep paying law enforcement for stirring up the pot,,not the exact words but close as I can get right now,,,just dried some bud and my head is addled.

    The removal of marijuana possession from the bounty money should reduce the efforts,such as the recent exposure of NY,NY’s practice.

    And a couple of years ago,,the Dallas PD was reprimanded for adjusting their claims of drug enforcement cases to fraud the DOJ of bounty money,,,of course nothing else was ever heard,tmk.

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  5. ezrydn says:

    I’ve noticed a lot of negative movements by Jimmy. The fact he’s not up for reelection is a happy thought. I also read his “Fields of Fire” book. What HS! I’m beginning to wonder if he was really there! With this newest turncoat strategy of his, he can’t leave soon enough.

    • claygooding says:

      Do you think he ran into the money and sold out or at least rented out?

      It seems like the congress has always asked for commissions and panels to investigate justice and they have never followed any of their advice,,that’s why we are where we are today.

  6. kaptinemo says:

    Oh, yes, hordes of swine at the trough, grunting, jostling, squealing in irritation when a bigger pig gets more, etc. Swine so thick at the trough edges, you could walk on their backs.

    For now. But only for now.

    Until it becomes very clear to a long-suffering public that the money in that trough is needed to keep people fed, sheltered, etc. in this coming and possibly brutal winter. (Recall what happened the last two winters? I do, and none too fondly, so imagine what’s going to happen to all those newly-homeless people living in tents or under a bridge, the ones who used to be taxpayers and are not used to the deprivation and existential threat the ‘classic’ homeless face daily. History shows it’s always been members of a crushed and abused Middle Class that starts the revolutions, and most of those in the aforementioned straits came from said Class. Need I say more?)

    The time of reckoning is not coming. It’s already here. The Occupy movement is a symptom of what’s coming down the pike. Ultimately, the State and Federal governments will be facing a demand from the public to make a radical shift in their budgeting priorities, away from current ‘favorites’ who receive the lion’s share, and placed back into social services, or face civil insurrection, for a government that refuses to do so in the face of massive social need has lost legitimacy.

    Santayana was all too right about failing to learn from history. The Great Depression saw the end of alcohol Prohibition, not out of mass righteous indignation, but simply because it was too expensive a losing proposition to continue, not with the country a hair’s breadth from coup and revolution.

    It happened before, and it’s happening again. The choices are becoming sharply clearer all the time: It’s money for food, shelter, health care, etc. or it’s money for cops to protect the 1% who have screwed us all. Considering the odds are, literally, millions to one against the 1%, it becomes a losing proposition for the latter choice.

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