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A model call for amnesty? - Citizen's group has formed in Israel

A non-political citizen's committee has formed in Israel. Their campaign is asking for amnesty to be granted to nonviolent drug and debt related offenses.

The Citizen's Committee for Amnesty held a news conference in Tel Aviv on December 18, 1997, "We are not political and our efforts cut across racial and ethnic lines," former MK Charlie Biton said. "But it cannot be denied that the vast majority of prisoners in Israeli jails belong to the Sephardic* population."

Major efforts are being directed at winning freedom for those jailed for drug-related offenses. According to committee member Cohavi Shemesh, 77% of prisoners "are drug addicts who should be in rehabilitation programs and not behind bars, and 66% require treatment."

Rueven Abergil, argued that many Sephardim imprisoned for drug related crime were raised in poverty and social deprivation. As many as 50% of prison drug addicts are Israeli Arabs.

The Committee plans a series of five advertisements that will feature a poster that reads, "Israel, will you not ask peace for your prisoners?

Backers include former Speaker Shevah Weiss (Labor), Finance Committee Chairman Avraham Ravitz (Degel Hatorah), Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, and MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud). Other supporters include actor/director Arnon Zadok and director David Ben-Shitrit.

* Sephardic Jews are descendants of the large Jewish community living in Spain and Portugal in the Middle Ages. Forcibly expelled from those countries in 1492, many settled in The Netherlands. Sephardic Jews never lost their identity and are found living all over the world today.


By D. Slaughter, Prisoner of the Drug War

In a recent appellate decision, U.S vs Vang, 128 F. 3d at 1066, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit dealt with a case of criminal sexual abuse of three girls, ages 12 and 13. The girls were raped and taken across state lines. In affirming the district court's decision and sentences to the statutory maximum of 10 years, the court obviously anguished over the case. Perceptually, this anguish may well flow from the relatively light sentences that the three defendants received.

While our Congress has increased penalties for drug law violations faster than any starship with Captain Kirk and Spock at the helm, it seems that Congress overlooked such cases as "rape of a minor."

In accord with USSG 2A3.2 - "Criminal Sexual Abuse of a Minor," the base level is a 15. However, at 2A3.1(b)(3), "Criminal Sexual Abuse," the base level is 27. Remember, the higher the level, the longer the sentence the judge must impose.

If compared to the "Drug Quantity Table," found in the USSG Manual, a person who is in possession of 5 grams of cocaine base, has a immediate level 26. Five grams of cocaine base would sit quite easily in the palm of a hand. Then come sentencing enhancements that almost always includes "relevant conduct," so rarely does a drug defendant remain at the level of the "Drug Quantity Table."

Since when do we as a nation consider the rape of a child a lesser offense than that of drug possession?

Since the drug war's inception.

In closing, I urge all readers and people concerned for our nation's future to consider what our Congress is doing. We cannot afford to build new prisons at warp speed for nonviolent drug law violators. We must demand true justice.

Toad Lovers Become Jailbirds

G. Patrick Callahan, Prisoner of the Drug War

The Colorado River toad is found from the Mexican border to the Grand Canyon and parts of Southeast California. It secretes a milk white substance to ward off predators. This substance contains bufotenine which is classified as a psychoactive drug and dimenthyltryptamine which is a hallucinogen. People have been licking toads for quite some time, of course, take that princess, for example. But toad kissing, once the stuff of fairy tales, is now illegal in the United States. Undercover agents from the Arizona Department of Fish and Game have been arresting people for amphibian osculation and french kiss a frog­­double entendre notwithstanding­­and you are going to jail mister.

We of the November Coalition are skeptical of the term consensual crime, yet tonguing a toad can hardly be called that: imagine the horror of being snatched into thin air and slobbered by some wild eyed homo sapien slurper. Perhaps this is just another example of prohibition's unsavory side effects and we wonder how many unfortunate victims will wind up with warts on their tongues because the government drove them into the Colorado River wilderness with its Zero Tolerance policies? We wish for the great circle of karma, too, when, upon reincarnation, men like William Bennett and Barry McCaffrey might become frog princes, relentlessly pursued by battalions of desperate toad lovers.

Kubby Blasts Feinstein for Gutting Education

"This year, for the first time ever, California will spend more money on prisons than on education," said Gubernatorial candidate Steve Kubby. "California used to be first in education, but now we are ranked 48th in the nation, thanks largely to drug warriors like Diane Feinstein and Dan Lungren who have been gutting education to build prisons," Kubby charged.

"I am glad to see that Sen. Feinstein has rediscovered the dreadful state of education in California," said Kubby. "Her actions as our Senator have been largely responsible for the redirection of funding from education to prisons." Senator Feinstein has been a leader in keeping the War on Drugs alive and should be held accountable for the disaster that has befallen public education in California."

According to The Rand Institute on Education and Training, California indeed faces a budget crisis, and the long-term prospects for state support of some public service systems­­including education­­are bleak. Three trends appear likely to dominate the state's long-term fiscal condition:

1. State revenues will grow­­but only moderately­­in the foreseeable future.

2. "Receiver populations" (the elderly, school-age children, and others who tend to depend on state aid) will grow at least as fast as revenues.

3. Corrections costs (primarily the costs of building and operating state prisons)­­driven by "three-strikes" legislation­­will skyrocket.

The Rand Institute goes on to say that if current trends persist to 2005, the University of California and the California State University systems will have to turn away more than 135,000 full-time-equivalent students while California's community colleges will turn away another 180,000 full-time-equivalent, degree-credit students.

"The War on Drugs, helped along by the Three Strikes law, has resulted in the precipitous decline in educational opportunities and quality by diverting to prisons, large sums of state funding that could be used to improve and upgrade our state education system," said Kubby who added, "Senator Feinstein has been a leader in switching California from the national leader in education to a world leader in prisons."

"The voters in California must turn away from the same old policies that have decimated education in California," said Kubby. We must redirect the scarce tax dollar assets of the state to their best effect. Educating our citizens, not incarcerating them, should be our real goal.

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