In the News
Campaign continues for fair phone
The Michigan chapter of CURE (Citizens United for
Rehabilitation of Errants) launched a national campaign in 2000
to expose and reduce the outrageously inflated telephone charges
in many state and federal prisons. Often left traumatized emotionally
and financially after a loved one is sent to prison, families
left behind are gouged and victimized by profit-hungry telecommunications
companies, who often have a virtual lock on prison phone systems.
Since its inception in 2000, the eTc campaign (equitable Telephone
charges) has tirelessly informed and lobbied legislators, governors,
prison administrators, and telephone company leaders. For a complete
listing of state-by-state accomplishments, and future plans,
visit their website at www.curenational.org/~etc.
Fraser Institute recommends marijuana
The Fraser Institute - an economics think-tank
in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - has issued another report
in a seemingly steady flow of studies condemning the basic premises
of the global drug war. Titled, "Marijuana Growth In
British Columbia" by Stephen T. Easton, the study demonstrates
in clear language the futility of prohibition, and recommends
According to the report, the underground
marijuana industry in BC is worth almost $7 billion in domestic
use and exports (mostly to the U.S.) annually. Easton makes a
compelling case for bringing that money into the legitimate economy
(thereby removing $7 billion from the underground 'criminal'
market, with all that implies). He estimates that this could
translate into potential revenues for the government of over
$2 billion. The full report is available online at www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/Marijuana.pdf
Family executed for snitching
In 2003, drug agents raided the home of
Jaime and Katerina Resendez, in Berrien County, Georgia and found
138 pounds of marijuana, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The couple immediately cooperated with investigators, leading
to the arrests of several drug dealers in Texas, and reportedly
to the drug's source in Mexico.
In early November, 2004, the couple was
found shot to death execution-style in their home, along with
the couple's 3-year-old son, Juan Carlos; Katerina's mother,
Betty Watts, who lived nearby; and Liliana Aguilar, 30, who lived
with the family. Remaining family members are questioning why
authorities did not protect the couple in exchange for the help
they gave in the drug case.
Berrien County Sheriff Jerry Brogdon, who
arrested the couple and helped in the larger drug-dealing investigation,
said he protected the couple as much as he could by not releasing
their names after the drug bust. Officials say few informants
receive much more protection than that.
District Attorney Pete Skandalakis told
the Journal-Constitution that authorities can do little
to protect informants "other than keeping an eye on them
and keep their names out of the public. The truth is there are
so many informants, it would be impossible to protect them all."
More women behind bars
The number of women in state and federal
prisons is at an all-time high and growing fast, according to
the government's Bureau of Justice Statistics. There were 101,179
women in prisons last year, 3.6 percent more than in 2002. That
marks the first time the women's prison population has topped
100,000, and continues a trend of rapid growth.
Longer sentences, especially for drug crimes
- and fewer prisoners granted parole or probation - are reported
as the main reasons for the expanding population of female prisoners.
The full study, 'Prisoners in 2003', is available from
the BJS at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs
Efforts to suppress Swaziland
founder on poverty, medical need
From The Drug War Chronicle (www.stopthedrugwar.org)
According to a report from the United Nations'
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) issued in December,
smallholder farmers in the southern African nation of Swaziland
are ignoring government efforts to suppress the marijuana crop
because it provides cash income and medicine. Virtually surrounded
by the country of South Africa, Swaziland is afflicted by extreme
poverty and an AIDS infection rate estimated at 40% for adults,
according to UN figures.
'Dagga' (marijuana) isn't just a cash crop,
farmers said. They admitted to IRIN to supplying marijuana to
the growing number of people suffering from AIDS in the country,
a move that has been abetted by AIDS support groups, who say
dagga encourages the appetite of AIDS sufferers. "Particularly
when you are starting with the anti-retroviral drugs, your body
can feel bad and you don't want to eat anything - that is when
people become thin," Eunice Simelane of Swazis for Positive
Living told IRIN.
Alleged traffickers may face execution
Three Australian citizens may soon face
the ultimate penalty under Indonesia's increasingly bitter war
on drugs. Facing death are Schapelle Leigh Corby, 27 (attempted
smuggling of 4.1 kg of marijuana), Chris Currell, 37, (trying
to send ephedrine pills and powder to Australia), and Chris Wardill,
27 (possession of four Ecstasy pills).
Amnesty International says it is concerned
by Indonesia's "increasing willingness" to execute
criminals, particularly drug traffickers, adding it is alarmed
by official statements that more criminals will be executed soon.
Former justice minister Muladi reportedly has called the Indonesian
court system a "judicial killing machine," ready to
bring down the hammer on hard-drug mules. Sources: numerous
wire service reports
Needle exchange effective in prison
A new study from the Montreal-based Canadian
HIV/AIDS Legal Network concludes that prison needle exchange
programs reduce risk behavior and disease (including HIV and
Hep C) transmission; do not endanger staff or prisoner safety,
and, in fact, make prisons safer places for both staff and inmates;
do not increase drug use or injecting; have been successfully
implemented in a wide variety of prison environments, in over
50 prisons in 6 countries (but not, of course, in the U.S.).
World's leading jailer has nearly
A July 2004 report from the Bureau of Justice
Statistics cements the reputation of the United States as World's
Leading Jailer. According to the BJS, the total number of Americans
incarcerated, on probation or parole has reached almost 7 million,
or 3.2% of the total population. The full report, titled "Probation
and Parole in the United States, 2003" (NCJ-205336)
is available at: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/ppus03.htm
General Pinochet indicted on human
(Editor: We reported on Gen. Pinochet's
indictment for drug trafficking in the March/April 2001 issue
of the Razor Wire.)
Former Chilean strongman, Gen. Augusto
Pinochet, was indicted December 13th for the kidnapping of nine
dissidents and the killing of one of them during his 1973-90
regime; the former dictator was placed under house arrest, according
to Associated Press reports.
Judge Juan Guzman made the announcement
nearly three months after questioning the 89-year-old former
ruler and having him examined by doctors to determine whether
he can stand trial. Guzman said he made the decision to try Pinochet
after carefully reviewing an interview that an alert-Pinochet
gave to a Spanish language television station in Miami.
The trial of Pinochet is part of Guzman's
investigation of the so-called "Operation Condor,"
a joint plan by the dictatorships that ruled several South American
nations in the 1970s and '80s to suppress dissidence.
Earlier this month, an appeals court stripped
Pinochet of immunity from prosecution for a 1974 car bombing
that killed an exiled Chilean general, Gen. Carlos Prats and
his wife, Sofia Cuthbert, in Buenos Aires. Prats, a former chief
of the Chilean army, had opposed the 1973 coup that put fellow
general Pinochet in power, and was among the first of an estimated
several thousand people killed during Pinochet's U.S.-supported
From the Holler to the Hood
Holler to the Hood
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Drug war prisoners are 4% of the
Nearly 128,000 people are serving life
sentences in state and federal prisons in the United States,
and more than one-quarter of them are doing life without parole.
The number of people doing life sentences has increased a whopping
83% in the past decade, even as the violent crime rate dropped
35% during that same period.
"Tough on crime" sentencing policies
are the main reason for the dramatic increase, contends The Sentencing
Project, the Washington, DC-based sentencing reform advocacy
and research group that released the study. The group pointed
specifically at mandatory minimum sentences and tougher parole
and commutation policies.
Slightly more than 90% of lifers have been
sentenced for violent crimes, 68% for murder, but drug offenders
make up 4% of the lifer population, people 'doing time' for economic
crimes make up 3.9%, and a mysterious "other" constitutes
2% of lifers. Source: www.sentencingproject.org/pdfs/lifers.pdf.
Scared straight programs flunk
Thirteen experts convened by the National
Institute of Health agree that "boot camps and other 'get
tough' programs for adolescents do not prevent criminal behavior,
as intended, and may make the problem even worse," according
to an Associated Press story, October 16, 2004. The panel
of experts "reviewed the available scientific evidence to
look for consensus on causes of youth violence and ways to prevent
"Programs that seek to prevent violence
through fear and tough treatment do not work," the panel
wrote in its final report. What does work, these experts contend,
are programs offering intensive counseling for families and their
Panel member and chairman, Robert L. Johnson,
M.D., said that the entire panel, after reviewing programs like
DARE, concludes these programs should be scrapped. "Many
communities are wasting a great deal of money on those types
of programs," said Dr. Johnson.
According to the AP story, "Successful
programs share a variety of characteristics. Among them: treatments
last a year or longer, intensive clinical work with those at
risk is included, and they take place outside schools and other