Another data point in ‘Prison isn’t the only metric in ruined lives’

Let’s stop wrecking lives over a bag of weed by Paul Zuckerberg in the Washington Post.

In a little office on the third floor of Metropolitan Police Headquarters on Indiana Avenue NW is a small window to the future — open to some, closed to many. This is where you get your D.C. “police clearance.”

If you have never been there, that’s because you have never applied for a job flipping burgers, mowing lawns or cleaning restrooms in the District. Room 3033 is the human resources department for the poor, the young and the disenfranchised. The piece of paper you get there — if you have no criminal record — is what you need to land a job. Without it, you’re out of luck.

For 29 years, I have defended clients facing marijuana charges in the District. At every initial appearance, without fail, the judge admonishes the defendant either to stay in school or to hold down a job. In the majority of cases, however, a job is not possible because most employers in this town will not hire entry-level workers who do not have a police clearance.

What crime is increasingly tripping up those looking for work? Possession of marijuana.


By the way, in case you missed it, Mike Riggs at Reason has been doing an outstanding job of demanding accountability from the ONDCP. After last week’s Drug Czar trumpeting of the link between drugs and crime (which was widely ridiculed), Riggs pointed out the conspicuous absence of alcohol data, resulting in an astounding series of dance steps by the ONDCP’s communications director on Twitter. Here’s the conclusion: Drug Czar’s Office Explains Why It Omitted Alcohol Data From Drug and Crime Report.

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28 Responses to Another data point in ‘Prison isn’t the only metric in ruined lives’

  1. darkcycle says:

    Hahahahahaha….! His last cut is the best: “The ONDCP is more than happy to talk about booze when it’s talking about recovery and treatment; but including data about alcohol consumption–data the ONDCP requested–in a report linking illicit drug use to crime would have been counter-productive.”
    Bingo. We have a winner.

  2. Servetus says:

    Prohibition is an eliminationist policy, so it’s no surprise it eliminates job opportunities for young people. At some stage it must be asked what civil authorities knew about this problem, and whether it’s intended, or will be continued.

    Ignoring the ill effects of petty marijuana arrests makes it appear as if the consequences are intended. If intentional, we’re dealing with tyranny. Organized oppression changes the ground rules for confronting an offending government. The oppressors must somehow be brought down, either now, or in the future.

    D.C. is a showcase of federal ineptitude. The mess that is the District of Columbia is what the rest of the country would resemble if there were no state and municipal governments. Many suggestions favor D.C. autonomy and freedom from federal control. Thanks to prohibition, the good citizens of D.C. have the opportunity to tie the two movements together, with an opportune rallying cry: Free the weed! Free D.C.!

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Would you be shocked if I told you that the District of Columbia has the highest per capita contribution ($174,500.00) to GDP? Would you be even more surprised to learn that #2 Delaware’s per capita contribution ($69,667.00) to GDP is less than 1/2 that of DC? I’d have never guessed that the wholesale manufacture, distribution and management of hot air was so valuable to the economy.

      Hey Mayor de Weerd, I see Idaho just barely managed to avoid the embarrassment of being dead last, ranked #50 of 51 LOL. Now how are your neighbors with all of those unproductive potheads doing? Washington #10, Oregon #11, California #12 and that doesn’t even count any more than 5% of their gross revenue from cannabis.

      For crying out loud Idaho couldn’t even manage to do better than West Virginia. Now that’s a dictionary picture example of **pathetic**. West Virginia still has companies that manufacture and sell outhouses and I’m not talking about those construction site John-boys either.

      Remember that I’m talking about per capita GDP if you look at the list.

      • Servetus says:

        I am shocked. The District of Columbia should have seceded from the union a long time ago.

        At least West Virginia can claim some self-sustainability. They have coal. And eating road kill is legal there. West Virginians also have beauty contests:

        “Little Miss Roadkill 2011,” put on a silvery tiara and took her place among a court that also included Miss Roadkill, Miss Teen Roadkill, Miss Pre-Teen Roadkill and Tiny Miss Roadkill.

        Idaho, home of the climate deniers, will not do so well, even if they legalize road kill. Climate chaos in the next century-or-so will eliminate the state’s snow-pack. The ski resorts will close, and farm irrigation will cease to be an option once the rivers run dry. Idaho is on track to be the next Afghanistan. To sustain the economy, poppy cultivation will be all that’s left.

  3. thelbert says:

    OT but interesting, here’s a site that i stumbled into. seems the police have decided to rid the planet of prostitution right after the final solution to the drug problem. based on their track record i predict lots of overtime for the guardians of the public morals. the only flaw i can see is there is no high-profile prostitute control czar. how do they expect policemen to do their jobs without a central authority to do their thinking for them.

  4. mofo says:

    We are setting young people up for failure if we are pushing more of them deeper into the drug trade and other criminal lifestyles by denying them the right to work. Jail and prison is just around the corner. Considering that it’s mostly men by far being arrested and processed in the drug war gulag, it’s not surprising that Pew Research just published that 63 percent (8.6 million) of breadwinner moms are single mothers. Only a downward civilization destroys families and its future on this scale.

  5. darkcycle says:

    This is up at AlterNet from Kevin Zeese, very well done.
    My somewhat pessimistic take: “All very sensible and well thought out. Which should lead any objective observer to the conclusion that there is zero (0) chance of this path being pursued by this Federal Government.

    Likely, instead, we’ll see continued crackdowns on MMJ and a protracted silence from our leaders on legalization (until, of course they begin trying to prop the failing regime up with attacks on legal, State licensed businesses). They’ll put a chill on State schemes by going after the private actors like growers and business owners, without ever having to go to court. Sorry, feelin’ a bit pessimistic as regards the Federals. And with shiny, new patents just awarded to G.W. Pharma, they’re not ready to give up quite yet.”

    • claygooding says:

      I agree,,also the DEA added CBD’s to the Schedule 1 of the CSA,,that is not the move of any federal bureaucracy “giving up”.
      That way even hemp will fall back under the ban until someone(Monsanto) can develope a strain with low thc and low cbds,,,adding more hoops to legalization of hemp as they go.

    • War Vet says:

      We still have our work cut out for us. One day this illicit federal government will be toppled and then be replaced with a legal Federal Government. I still hold true to my oath beyond my old uniform.

    • Childless says:

      Happy day, Knowing No PigState Raid Shall ever Occur within 1,000 feet of my Kids School. Once, Met a Toking Couple Who Lived on a Sailboat with their Two HomeSchooled Daughters. The Most Serene, Loving, Beautiful, Happy Family there ever Was, I Assure You.
      No PigState Raid Shall Ever Occur within 1,000 Miles of those Children. And It Showed on Their Faces. A Glow certainly Radiant enough to Guide their Boat Out of Any Tempest on a Moonles Night.

  6. Windy says:

    OT, but an important article:
    A woman was choked and raped following a 911 call to police in which the dispatcher told her to ask her attacker to “go away”.

    The incident, which occured late last August but was only widely reported last week, took place in Josephine County, Oregon, when a woman’s ex-boyfriend tried to break into her home.

    Instead of sending an officer to the scene, the police dispatcher advised, “I don’t have anybody to send out there. You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”
    That quote is from 2010, presumably before the cuts to Sheriff Gilbertson’s department. But all of the other stories ran after the rape in August of last year. It’s also true that multi-jurisdictional anti-drug task forces are usually funded with federal grants. Gilbertson couldn’t redirect the task force to more conventional police duties if he wanted to. They don’t report to him. But they’re also staffed and at least partially funded by local law enforcement agencies like Gilbertson’s, and there’s no obligation to participate. Moreover, while there’s abundant federal funding for anti-drug efforts, there’s little to none for more conventional policing. That and policies like drug-related asset forfeiture skew local police agencies to make drug investigations a far higher priority than they otherwise would. There’s just much more money to be had for drug arrests.

    • Frank W says:

      It would be good to call media attention to this but you know southern Oregon media. The best they could muster was an anti-pot propaganda piece shown simultaneously on all networks without explanation (a few years ago).
      And this is the state “where everybody smokes pot because it’s legal”…

    • War Vet says:

      This really is a sad story and a sad case of events leading up to that poor woman’s rape. I view cops as ‘those workers who watch others work’. The residual effects of the war on drugs do make the people less safe and less economically secure. So in reality, cops get paid to make sure more violent crime exists and not the opposite of decreasing crime. If one is to view law enforcement as a job and the citizens as customers: we’re getting ripped off. If any of us only completed less than one third of our job before going home at night or retiring, we’d either be fired or run the business down. And because cops refuse to give up half or more of their salaries and benefits for reimbursing the customer for the unfinished labor/results, they are committing fraud. If you or I were paid up front to roof someone’s home and only completed half or less of the job and yet didn’t reimburse the customer for at least the unfinished amount, we’d be sued. They remind me of a few of the union jobs where the worker doesn’t always have to do very much work for a big salary and nice benefits.

    • Freeman says:

      Balko hits in on the head in his summary:

      The problem here isn’t that there are no resources available for law enforcement officers to respond to 911 calls in Josephine County. It’s that federal, state, and local officials have decided that preventing Josephine County residents from getting high is more important than preventing them from getting raped.

    • allan says:

      relevant OR info:

      – Bail for third degree robbery, misdemeanor strangulation and fourth degree assault, $80,000.
      – Bail for child sex abuse, $250,000.
      – Bail for providing medical marijuana patients safe access to medicine they would otherwise have to obtain from the black market, $550,000

  7. ToyBox says:

    Dipping Barbies, Kens, and G.I. Joe Dolls into Blood, Mud, and Concrete Dust. In a Heap they Rather Look Like a PigState Drone Strike. Might Be a Cool Project for the Children.

  8. War Vet says:

    A new video game is out and it challenges the player to win the War on Drugs . . . supposedly it’s created to pin-point how stupid and evil the War on Drugs is.

  9. Frank W says:

    I don’t often annoy people on this site except lately, but here, I hope is the last post I’ll make for a while.
    Lori Duckworth is a political prisoner.

    Too bad she wasn’t a healthy murderer.

    • allan says:

      it’s nice to see anudder Oreganoian here Frank… I can be the Oregon happy face and you can be the Oregon sad face (tho’ there are days when I ain’t so smiley).

      Do I know you?

      • Frank W says:

        Sorry, you don’t know me. I’m a lurker who’s reached his tipping point. Maybe the last straw was the degeneration of “The Jefferson Exchange” into neutered shit-on-a-shingle mulching discussions. Think I’ll try to reach Amy Goodman.

  10. allan says:

    Tonite! in 1/2 an hour

    C-SPAN 1 is broadcasting a discussion on Marijuana Legalization hosted by Brookings Institute, tonight at 10:00 EST.

    Description : Colorado & Washington voters passed ballot measures in November legalizing the possession and sale of small quantities of marijuana for recreational use. A Brookings Institution discussion looks at the domestic and foreign policy implications.

    and here’s a good one: Former Microsoft manager proposes national marijuana brand, robust pot trade with Mexico

  11. Windy says:

    Just found this, knew you all would want to see it:
    The ability to raise prices is– at least is perceived to be–a critical function of drug control policy. Higher prices discourage young people from using. Higher prices encourage adult users to consume less, to quit sooner, or to seek treatment. (Though higher prices can bring short-term problems, too, as drug users turn to crime to finance their increasingly unaffordable habit.)
    An enormous law enforcement effort seeks to raise prices at every point in the supply chain from farmers to end-users: Eradicating coca crops in source countries, hindering access to chemicals required for drug production, interdicting smuggling routes internationally and within our borders, street-level police actions against local dealers.
    That’s why this may be the most embarrassing graph in the history of drug control policy. (I’m grateful to Peter Reuter, Jonathan Caulkins, and Sarah Chandler for their willingness to share this figure from their work.) Law enforcement strategies have utterly failed to even maintain street prices of the key illicit substances. Street drug prices in the below figure fell by roughly a factor of five between 1980 and 2008. Meanwhile the number of drug offenders locked up in our jails and prisons went from fewer than 42,000 in 1980 to a peak of 562,000 in 2007.

  12. smapdi says:

    “I think it’s completely within the capability of the United States government to crush a major urban gang,” Kirk said. “Just think of what the greatest generation did here in Chicago, pretty much crushing the Capone organization.”

    • Jean Valjean says:

      This guy doesn’t know which way is up… the policies he is supporting are exactly the ones that put Al Capone in power in the first place. It’s called prohibition, and without it Capone, like the the street gangs of today would have no business model.
      If Sen. Kirk read up on a little history he would know that the repeal of alcohol prohibition and the resultant ending of the trade in illicit alcohol was the cause of Capone’s loss of power in Chicago. A classic know-nothing.

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