By Deitra Lied, Regional Leader
Howdy, Folks! An update on far west Texas
& southern New Mexico, the borderland, and a few observations
from Deitra Lied, Regional Leader.
The first official meeting for the El Paso chapter of November
Coalition convened at 6:30 Tuesday April 17 at 3500 Montana.
Questions and enthusiasm were abundant. When the meeting was
adjourned, all of the 20 people gathered promised to mail their
sardine can to someone (one label free just for attending!).
The vigil was scheduled for Sat. April 21 from 10 a.m. to 12
noon at the First International Boundary Monument. The low turnout
was compensated in some ways by the three Border Patrol vehicles
that kept driving in an out of the area and the Policia from
Juarez who also made an appearance. The local chapter is considering
the adoption of the space in an effort to get involved with the
community in a slightly different fashion. Responsibilities will
consist of cleaning litter and reporting any theft or physical
damage several times a year. The area holds a special interest.
The next meeting will be held after the next vigil to be held
at the First Amendment Space at the Chamizal National Park, Sat.
May 19, from 9 to 11 a.m.
Newspaper coverage in this region boasts more drugs seized than
most, I would imagine. Recently Louie Gilot, reporter for the
El Paso Times, made an enormous effort to find the bottom line
for the cost of the War on Drugs in our area. In a series of
articles in the Sunday April 5 issue Gilot found that almost
$140 million a year is spent in local, state, and federal money
fighting the war in this major corridor of international drug
trafficking. At least 2,700 locals are drug-fighting professionals,
enforcing drug laws and supporting drug warriors, according to
her research. Ms Gilot also found that the police officers took
32,748 pounds of marijuana off the streets last year while the
DEA took another 96,060 pounds.
In Gilot's story my picture and a short story focusing on conspiracy
and mandatory minimum issues featured my husband, Leonard, and
I as examples of the human cost of this war.
The timing of the OpenTheCan CANpaign helps to illustrate the
urgency of stopping the madness generated from the WOD. The current
growth rate for the Federal Bureau of Prisons is 9.3% annually.
Working from a round number of approximately 150,000 inmates
in the system, that would mean a growth of about 23,000 new prisoners
over the coming year. The prisons are already overcrowded. Constant
new construction seems imminent, as President Bush' $4.66 billion
for new federal prisons promotes. That would call for at least
23 new prisons this year with an average of 1,000 inmates per
prison, with the number increasing every year.
A lawsuit has been filed (EP01CA0024) in the United States District
Court, Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, regarding
the BOP's violation of their own Program statement, PS 1060.11
(issued June 30, 1997), which states specific dimensions for
rated capacities. We await response from ACLU about possible
involvement. So far the real overcrowding affects only the low
security facilities. The potential for problems with the inmates
in the medium and high security is too great to risk. It makes
me wonder why TV specials on prisons always seem to focus on
the maximum facilities with the lowest number of inmates? The
majority of America's prisoners are in low security, suffering