Category Archives: Prison

This prison food contractor is funding efforts to keep marijuana illegal

Keep prisons full by keeping nonviolent offenses illegal

Most Americans support legalizing marijuana, but there are some noteworthy exceptions.

I wrote last month about how some beer makers are lobbying to keep weed illegal because they believe it will be a competitor and lower their profits. If anyone could understand the dangers of prohibition, you’d think it’d be the alcohol industry, but somehow they’ve managed to combine crony capitalism and an appalling ignorance of history in one terrible package.

Now it seems those beer lobbyists will find strange bedfellows in the prison industry, as a prison food contractor in Arizona is spending big bucks to stop marijuana legalization—and thus keep the prisons full of profitably hungry people. RT.com reports:

A company that makes money selling food to prisons is helping to bankroll the effort to defeat marijuana legalization, a review of new campaign finance records shows.

Services Group of America, whose subsidiary Food Services of America prepares meals for correctional facilities, gave $80,000 late last month to a campaign committee opposing the legal cannabis measure on Arizona’s November ballot.

This isn’t just politics, and it’s worse than mere self-serving crony capitalism like beer makers’ support for prohibition. No, this is actively campaigning to keep nonviolent people locked up, ruining their lives, just to make a buck.

That goes beyond differences of opinion about the drug war. It’s morally grotesque.

Now more than ever, Arizona should vote YES on Prop. 205.

Credit to

This prison food contractor is funding efforts to keep marijuana illegal

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5 Startling Numbers Reveal the Militarization of U.S. Drug Policy

question everything

The number of Americans that die each year due to violent crime caused by the drug war

This average death toll of Americans murdered in drug-related crimes is higher than the annual fatality rate of US soldiers in either the Afghanistan or Iraq war. In fact, according to an analytical study of FBI crime statistics, the Vietnam War is the only conflict in the past half-century that has been deadlier for Americans. Disturbingly, this figure doesn’t even take into account the numerous individuals who have been killed by law enforcement in drug-related raids.

$51 billion – The amount that the U.S. government spends each year on the war on drugs

This huge figure, which is $5 billion more than the average annual expenditure on the Afghanistan War, is primarily allocated to arming and training the increasingly militarised law enforcement.  According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), weaponry held by US counter-narcotic agencies for use against American drug suspects includes flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and submachine guns. There is also an increased prevalence of drug-targeting SWAT teams using armoured personnel carriers – vehicles that were originally created to “transport infantry and provide protection from shrapnel and small arms fire on the battlefield.”

61 percent – The percentage of individuals targeted by drug-related SWAT raids who are people of color

The ACLU investigated the impact rates of SWAT teams in sixteen counties around the US, and in every single one, people of color were disproportionately targeted. In Allentown, PA, Latinos were 29 times more likely than white people to endure a SWAT raid, while Blacks in Burlington, NC, were 47 times more likely than whites to face this violence. This bias treatment is ongoing despite the rates of drug use and selling being comparable across racial lines.

18 months – The age of Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, a recent American casualty of the drug war

On May 28, a team of police officers raided the Phonesavanh’s home, with the mistaken belief that the residents were involved with drugs. As they entered, they tossed a flashbang grenade that landed directly in the crib of baby Bou Bou, which exploded within point-blank range – critically injuring him. In  a harrowing article, his mother, Alecia, described seeing “a singed crib” and “a pool of blood”, and later being informed by medics of the “hole in his chest that exposes his ribs.” Alecia said that the sole silver lining to this story is that it may “make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the war on drugs.” Fortunately, Bou Bou has been making a gradual recovery, but his family is  relying on donations to support their living and medical costs.

82 percent – The number of Americans who believe that the government is losing the War on Drugs

American polling company, Rasmussen,  reported this staggering statistic, which contrasts considerably with the miniscule four percent who believe that the drug war has been successful. Despite the inordinate human and financial cost of the war on drugs, and its lack of success in quelling drug use or trafficking, Republican and Democrat leaders continue to express anti-democratic defiance as they ignore the will of the people and perpetuate the drug war’s inhumanity.

This article first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/5-startling-numbers-reveal-militarization-us-drug-policy

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Judge Sends Cincinnati Police Detective to Prison for False Arrest – Widespread Problem In Law Enforcement

juliane Steele cincinatti police sentanced false arrest

A judge sentenced a Cincinnati police detective to five years in prison Wednesday for abduction and intimidation in the arrest and detention of a teenager.

Julian Steele, who has since been fired from the police force, was only repeating what he saw others on the force do during his 14-year career, Steele’s attorney said before the sentence was imposed.

“No doubt about it. There was a mistake made here,” Steele’s attorney Lindsey Gutierrez told Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Helmick. “He saw other cops do it.”

Steele, 48, of Springfield Township, falsely arrested a teen in May 2009, interrogated him, held him against his will, got a false confession from him – all so Steele could get close to the teen’s mother for sex, according to court records.

Steele insisted he had evidence – “probable cause” in legal language – to arrest the teen because he’d seen the teen’s mother’s car in the area of several street robberies in Northside. Later, though, Steele admitted to suspicious prosecutors he knew the teen committed no crimes when he arrested him.

“I’ve talked to several police officers about this case and generally they laugh at the thought that that’s probable cause,” said Daniel “Woody” Breyer, the Clermont County special prosecutor assigned to handle Steele’s case

Breyer was brought in because it was Hamilton County prosecutors who uncovered Steele’s crimes.

Steele even threatened to file a grievance against Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Megan Shanahan after she insisted the teen be freed from juvenile jail and after Steele suggested he would lie to the grand jury to win an indictment, according to court records. Steele told prosecutors he would “work my mojo” before the grand jury.

“I would never do anything malicious to hurt anybody,” Steele told the judge Wednesday.

Not only did he hurt the innocent teen and his mother, Breyer countered, but he hurt law enforcement officials everywhere.

What he has done to the justice system almost is irrevocable,” Breyer said.

The mother testified she was so afraid for her son she would do anything to get him out of jail. She said Steele told her it was “a process” to get her son out and even after she performed oral sex on him, the detective didn’t get her son released.

“The things he said are appalling. If I was a (Hamilton County) prosecutor, I’d go back and check every case he was on,” Breyer said.

Steele’s actions needlessly damage police and prosecutors, Breyer said.

“It makes me angry,” Breyer said. “It makes everybody connected with law enforcement angry.”

The judge also placed Steele on probation for five years after he serves his five-year prison term.

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