Monday, May 30, 2005

escalating The War on Drugs

I have no doubt that those who favor the The War on Drugs have the best of intentions. The fact that such intentions pave the road to Hell is also not in doubt. This so called 'war' is as misguided, fruitless and counter-productive as The War on Poverty. A notable difference between the two is that the latter is a pet-project of Democrats, while the former is the Republican’s illegitimate brain-child. A sad similarity is that they both extract money from a third party and ultimately ensure the existence of the phenomena by failing to target the root causes. Throwing money at the poor is no more effective than incarcerating all levels of users and dealers, thereby perpetuating the very ‘black market’ that ever more laws purport to curtail.

Speaking of more laws, it appears that James Sensenbrenner is at it again. In addition to the atrocious power grab known as HR-1268 (Real ID), the Wisconsin Republican has set his sights on yet more of our individual liberties, the very freedoms that valiant men and women have bled and died to preserve. From totalitarianism today, here’s a link to Alter Net, a left-leaning site that features a Bill Piper article that is alarming to say the least.
Sensenbrenner, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman, has introduced legislation that would essentially draft every American into the war on drugs. HR-1528, cynically named "Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act," would compel people to spy on their family members and neighbors, and even go undercover and wear a wire if needed. If a person resisted, he or she would face mandatory incarceration.

Here's how the "spy" section of the legislation works: If you "witness" certain drug offenses taking place or "learn" about them, you must report the offenses to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution" of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence, and a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Regardless of one’s view of intoxicants or intoxication, recreational or otherwise, every sane person ought to be outraged by such a congressional overreach. After having ‘successfully’ criminalized non-violent personal behavior, HR-1528 would criminalize passive tolerance of such behavior. This flies in the face of the spirit of the 5th Amendment, if not the letter. What’s more, this would further erode the limited privacy that still remains. HR-1528 simply must not be signed into law.
Despite growing opposition to mandatory minimum sentences from civil rights groups to U.S. Supreme Court Justices, the bill eliminates federal judges' ability to give sentences below the minimum recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. This creates a mandatory minimum sentence for all federal offenses, drug-related or not.

H.R. 1528 also establishes new draconian penalties for a variety of non-violent drug offenses, including:

• Five years for anyone who passes a marijuana joint at a party to someone who, at some point in his or her life, has been in drug treatment;

• Ten years for mothers with substance abuse problems who commit certain drug offenses at home (even if their children are not at home at the time);

• Five years for any person with substance abuse problems who begs a friend in drug treatment to find them some drugs.

These sentences would put non-violent drug offenders behind bars for as long as rapists, and they include none of the drug treatment touted in the bill's name.
How many families are potentially in jeopardy of losing one or both income earners? If anything, HR-1528 is the enemy of the nuclear family. Would it not be more appropriate to mandate treatment instead of extended jail sentences? I would ask my conservative Republican friends to consider the correlation of the drug laws to the Left’s desire for ‘gun control’ laws. At its heart, the irrational fear of drugs and guns lay with what might happen, rather than measurable harm done to another. There are already innumerable statues that cover all imaginable acts of force and fraud. The demonization of some chemical compounds while receiving truck-loads of contributions (money and perks) from the pharmaceutical lobby for the approval of others is despicable.

Apparently, Republican constituencies appeal to emotion every bit as much as those of the Democrats. They both claim to support freedom, just not broadly defined. Both camps are micro-managers of the lives of individuals to maintain and increase government power. The ‘will of the people’ must be done...individual liberty be damned.