After reading the last Razor Wire, many of you took up the challenge and wrote your hometown and other newspapers. We are sharing with you just some of the recent letters published. The offer still stands.

Are you a prisoner of the war on drugs? If your editorial about the drug war gets published, we will send you a copy of Drug War Facts. Like these letters here, you might find your own writing published a second time in The Razor Wire. We'll be sharing these published letters to inspire more of our readers to take up the pen in the cause of justice.

Ready, set; write those letters!

Send original clippings of your recent published letters to the editor to:
I got published TNC!
795 South Cedar
Colville, WA 99114

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More on marijuana
Don't be surprised that the Supreme Court opposed medical marijuana. Courts have always opposed any change to marijuana laws that make the United States the world's largest imprisoner of its own people. Citizens' ballot initiatives have won in 10 states. Courts, prosecutors and police all work together to keep our prisons filled.
This is another clear case of a heavy-handed Big Brother drunk with power. During the presidential campaign, George W. Bush said he favored states' rights on the medical marijuana issue, but as soon as he was (barely) elected he made a radical dive to the right.
Bill Harper

Prison growth shameful
I take issue with the July 23 Herald Leader's front-page article that gleefully stated two new prisons will "invigorate" Kentucky's economy. The human encagement industry is big business in the land of the free. This country is the world's largest per capita prison for its own people, and although the United States represents a fraction of the world's population, we house one-fourth of the world's prisoners.
More than 60 percent of federal prisoners are non-violent drug offenders, and most have black or brown skin. The article quoted a judge as saying, "The community doesn't have to put anything in, but we're getting all this benefit." He seems to overlook the obvious fact that his community will be putting in the prisoners. For every new job that someone in the community gets, there will be two from the community housed as inmates.
The expense for the prison was listed as $32 million to house a measly 1,000 prisoners, most of whom will be in for petty drug offenses. It is truly sickening to see human enslavement become part of the Fortune 500. Private prison firms are selling prison labor to organizations for profit, while paying the prisoner a token fee for "voluntary" work.
Freedom from imprisonment should not be taken lightly. As these new prison labor camps open for business, they will have to round up customers. When you build a prison, you have to drag someone from his or her home and shackle him or her to get their business.
Bill Harper

Saturday, April 28, 2001 - Philadelphia Daily News

Persecution here, too.
American media and politicians are criticizing China for persecuting Christians and members of the growing Falun Gong religious movement. But doesn't America's so-called Christian government also engage in religious persecution?
In 1970, Congress passed the controlled substance act making marijuana illegal. Religions that use marijuana for spiritual and medical purposes were thus transformed into illegal religions. Coptic Christians and Rastafarians are being arrested, their numbers hidden by the "war on drugs."
Even though the First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," the act made no exceptions for use of marijuana in religious ceremonies.
During alcohol prohibition, there were religious exemptions for wine used by Christians for religious use. Before telling China about its religious abuses, the United States should correct its own. I'm imprisoned for my beliefs now.
Edward Forchion
Riverfront State Prison
Camden, NJ

Wilson Daily Times 8-24-2001 & The Independent Tribune Concord, NC Aug. 31, 2001

Voice opposition to war on drugs
After more than 30 years of fighting America's Drug War, one has to wonder when the mentality will shift away from trying to arrest America's way out of this problem. One thing is for sure; as long as our citizens keep electing public servants that have the "Lock-Em up and throw away the Key" attitude, nothing will change. That we can be sure of! We must never forget that the electorate should control the politicians.
It seems that almost everyone but the politicians know that education and treatment are a better approach than incarceration. If incarceration alone were the magic bullet, then we would not have had a million heroin addicts when President Nixon declared the War on Drugs, and (30 years later) still have about the same number of heroin addicts. Now, 74% of Americans believe that the Drug War is not working. As in many things, the citizens (unafraid of the political consequences) are far ahead of their politicians.
It seems even though most Americans think that the Drug War is not working, very few really know what to do about it or how to obtain honest information. There are many organizations that are working very hard to inform Americans, and to help us fight the battle for change. Two of the better equipped are Families against Mandatory Minimums and the November Coalition. Groups like these non-profit organizations provide facts and accurate information that can be used to make decisions about how most of us now feel. This is crucial public policy.
Something that amazes me is that, with over 400,000 Americans in prison for drug related offenses, these groups only have a combined membership of 44,000. One would think that memberships would be considerably higher. Since 74% of Americans believe that the drug war is not working, one must assume they do not know about these fine organizations. Everyone will want to remember that these groups are important and informed, and their voices are strengthened by increased membership. I urge you to contact these groups at or FAMM 1612 'K' St. Washington, D.C. 20006 (202) 822-6700, or TNC, 795 South Cedar, Colville, Washington 99114 (509) 684-1550. Let your voice be heard.
Dale Hill - Goldsboro
(The writer is incarcerated in the federal prison at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.)

Dear November Coalition
Enclosed please find a copy of the letter I got published in the Round Valley Paper, Arizona. As you can see by the editors comment at the end of my letter, his heart is in the right place, but he is as misinformed as most of the people in regard to all of the benefits of marijuana when used properly.
Glenn Jacobs, the editor, is also unaware of the assistance of the November Coalition and the Razor Wire. Could you please send him a complimentary issue of the Razor Wire?
I look forward to receiving a copy of "drug war facts".
Terry Gage

Legalize Marijuana
Thank you for providing a forum for freedom loving individuals. Your dedication to the truth is very much in the tradition of Benjamin Franklin's paper, which was instrumental in casting off the British Government yoke.
It is in the interest of truth that I respond to the letter appearing in the RVP's 9/12/01 issue. The writer warns parents that people who are working to decriminalize marijuana are "after" their children. The writer bases her erroneous observation on the same pack of lies sold to the public in order to gain support for criminalizing, and eliminating, the use of the most beneficial plant (hemp), known throughout the history of mankind. There is no excuse for such malicious ignorance.
I strongly recommend that the writer, and anyone else who may have read her letter and thought it contained one iota of truth, read Jack Herer's best selling "underground" book, "The emperor wears no clothes." The reader will find documented proof to rebuff every claim the writer of the letter "Dopes for Marijuana," puts forth, such as marijuana causing cancer. Marijuana does not cause cancer; on the contrary, marijuana seeds can be used to prevent and cure cancer, and marijuana itself saves many cancer victims lives by relieving nausea so they can eat and gain strength while going through chemotherapy treatment. I can personally vouch for that through personal experience with my mother.
In regard to marijuana causing mental illness, marijuana has never been associated with mental illness except as a cure. For example, mental depression causes many avoidable suicides each year, particularly among our young people. These deaths were avoidable because many were in a temporary mental state that could have been altered with the mild euphoric effects of the natural herb marijuana. The bottom line is that marijuana is a folk medicine people have been using to treat their bodies since time immemorial, and there has never been a single death attributed to it. How dare anyone deny us such a useful resource for any reason. After all, who owns your body? And who is ultimately responsible for its upkeep and maintenance?
The only harmful effect that can be associated with marijuana is the ignorance in not using it properly and the horrible suffering caused by those who prohibit its use. I speak from experience here too, because I would be free right now if people like the writer of that terrible letter of misinformation weren't so ignorant.
Terry Gage
Prisoner of the war on drugs

(Round Valley Editor: I rate the use of marijuana right up there on the stupid scale with playing blindfolded in heavy traffic. True, it does not kill the user, it just makes him or her so very satisfied that he or she does not get a job and pay bills. Those who smoke marijuana tend to become mere freeloading leeches on the rest of us. However, people have no inherent authority to punish their neighbors for being lazy, satisfied freeloaders, and we therefore could not have delegated that authority to government. Therefore, the government has no authority to punish us for being lazy, satisfied freeloaders. Therefore, the entire Holy War on drugs is unauthorized and unlawful.)

Monday, May 28, 2001/Arizona Daily Star

Land of the free isn't so for prisoners
By Charles Crehore
Memorial Day is traditionally the day on which we honor those men and women who have so unselfishly given their lives to keep America free. The giving of one's life is certainly the greatest sacrifice anyone can ever make, and those who have done so to preserve America's freedom truly deserve our honor and respect. It is only fitting that we have set aside a special day to pay tribute to them.
As one of the more than 2 million people who are presently incarcerated in this country, on this Memorial Day I would like to ask that people take just a moment to stop and think about something.
America now has the largest prison population per capita our population of any country in the world. With new prisons being built, opened and filled all of the time, the surging rate of incarceration shows no signs of slowing down.
Already having more than seven to 10 times the prison population of other industrialized nations, America is headed for having 10 to 20 times their prison populations in the foreseeable future.
I have heard all the arguments, all of which boil down in frustration to, "If people did not commit crimes, they would not get locked up, and what's wrong with that?" There are other countries in which citizens are routinely put to death by their governments (also countries we would not want to compare ourselves to).
There are also many other countries in which prisoners are incarcerated under much worse conditions than those typically found in American prisons.
There is no denying that America is, presently, the most powerful country in the world. There is also no denying that America is presently the richest country in the world. A strong argument can be made, however, that America is no longer the freest country in the world.
When the brave men and women of this country fought and died for it, I think every one of them did so with the intention of protecting America's most sacred cornerstone: freedom.
Sure, being the most powerful country in the world has its advantages (and, I would argue, its disadvantages); and I know people enjoy living in the richest country in the world (most of them, anyway).
However, I do not think the men and women who fought and died for this country did so to make America the most powerful country on Earth. I do not think they died to make America the richest country on Earth. I think these brave men and women gave their lives to ensure that America was the freest country on Earth.
So, on this Memorial Day, I would hope that people would take a moment to stop and think about whether we are truly honoring the brave men and women who gave their lives for this country by becoming the largest incarcerators of human beings in the world.
Charles Crehore is serving 20 years in federal prison in Tucson for marijuana conspiracy.

This is my favorite letter, written to my hometown paper in response to a big article, complete with pictures of citizens being hauled off to jail half clothed, during a pre-dawn raid conducted by their sheriff. They did not run it, it would give me a certain amount of satisfaction to be able to send the editor a copy printed by the Razor Wire. (Ed Note: You got it!)

Dear Sir:
According to Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Hebert, the pre-dawn breaking into Iberian's houses to issue 99 warrants was a chance to give back to the community for tax money collected from them. (Article: The Daily Iberian, April 6, 2001, "Deputies Make Clean Sweep, Warrants Issued for 99 in Iberia Drug Busts Today'). What's he giving back to the community for their tax money?
Is it the fear Iberians now have that their house can be broken into by a terror squad at 4:00 a.m. in order to serve a warrant based on the word of a "snitch"? Is he talking about the bill to imprison those hauled away dazed, half-naked to his jail, later to prison?
The cost to keep each one of those 99 ex-taxpaying Iberians locked up for a year is around $28,000. If they get an average of 5-years prison time each, that's a total of 495 years. It will cost taxpayers almost 14 million dollars, and that's not including the cost the court system is going to charge the taxpayers to convict them, or the loss to the community for the goods and services those 99 tax paying friends, relatives, and neighbors contributed to this community.
Maybe he's talking about the children; the ones that saw their parents hauled away in handcuffs. Giving back traumatized orphans to the community for their tax dollars doesn't seem like such a good deal when you stop to think about it, does it?
Surely he's not talking about giving back service for the job he was elected to do: protect Iberia Parish residents 'God given, Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. It's questionable that Sheriff Sid is giving back anything but grief to the community for their tax dollars.
One thing is for certain though, if Iberians do nothing about this outrageous attack on their fellow Iberians' freedom, then they deserve what they are going to get - a witch hunt that'll make the Puritanical witch hunts look like the good old days.
Ronald LeBlanc

Reader Weekly - July 19, 2001

Prisoner of the drug war
I am writing to you in response to a call to me to help inform the people of my hometown of the Justice Department's practice of playing fast and loose with civil liberties that has created prisoner of war camps right here in America for our own citizens.
I am a prisoner of the war on drugs, serving a 152-month sentence at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. The sarcastic description of these camps as Club Feds has enabled the government to hide their agendas behind a phrase of "it's okay for Middle America to be housed in these institutions as so called first-time non-violent offenders."
The so-called prison camps are in fact prisoner of war concentration camps. Being held against one's will by the brainwashing of being ostracized from society constitutes torture in any language, shape, or form. The people housed here are not Al Capones or drug kingpins; they could be anyone, even you, as a result of false accusations, innuendo, or hidden agendas.
These are functional citizens, and America is losing out twice. First, the revenue that these people were generating through their jobs and trades and, second, now these people have become dependents of the taxpayers. What could justify housing sixty and seventy-year-old people, mothers, fathers, and entire families, when no crime by the true definition, has been committed?
When I first arrived at Alderson Camp, Psychology Department staff told me that this is the place the BOP sends people who are not supposed to be in prison. I said to myself, "Then why am I being held here and what is this place?" By definition I think this must be a concentration camp.
Lawyers, federal judges, Congress, the White House, everyone knows that this is wrong, but few are willing to stand up for what is right. Legislators are afraid to appear "soft on crime", others because they have been brainwashed by media reports that have been ill advised, and are uneducated on this issue.
Pictures that have been presented to the public show prisons housing dangerous criminals, and that everyone in prison should be here. The rude awakening happened the day I arrived at Camp Alderson and found myself surrounded by anyone's neighbors!
Thomas Paine warned, "An Avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he a establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
There is an alarm that needs to be sounded, a message that needs to be carried to every town and city in United States about a malignant disease that is eating away at the core of entire society.
That disease is our prison system, which has become the fastest growing industry in our nation. The US prison system has become a slave labor camp, a prison industrial complex that imprisons more people than any other country in the world, that builds giant new prisons with funds stolen from educational budgets to improve our children's schools. Even ex "drug czar" General Barry McCaffrey called the US prison system "an American Gulag".
What a disgrace! We destroy our schools, and we force more children into lives that end in prison-thereby creating a justification to build even more prisons across the United States.
Once upon a time South Africa led the world in the staggering number of citizens imprisoned, using cruel and unjust laws to imprison its citizens under the horrendous conditions of apartheid. Now the U.S. has taken the lead in a race to put more of its citizens in jails than any other country in the world.
In the decade since 1985, the federal government and the states have opened one new prison per week-and the construction boom continues unabated. Prisons are now one of this country's fastest growing businesses. You can even buy stock in companies that are hired by state governments to build and operate prisons for profit. Of course, saving money by cutting prisoners' food and eliminating education and rehabilitation programs all contribute to higher profits for owners and stockholders.
In the past quarter century the US population has increased 28%, but the number of people in jail has gone up more than 500%; the great majority of those imprisoned are non-violent offenders who probably would not have been imprisoned a decade ago.
Last year New York Governor George Pataki gave the State Department of Correctional Services a $760 million increase, cutting funding to the state and city universities by $615 million. In California and other states too, the same transfer of funds from schools to prisons has been taking place.
The United States imprisons its citizens at seven times the rate of Great Britain, at six times the rate of Canada, at 20 times the rate of Japan-and yet their societies are no more violent or law breaking than ours as a consequence. In fact, it has been reported that our "justice system out of control" has statistics not unlike those of China.
Prisons are usually hidden away in isolated areas. Just as most Germans didn't know exactly what went on in the concentration camps, it is so easy for us not to see the worst excesses.
Each of us is affected by the mushrooming growth of our prison system, by the mandatory sentencing laws that require the building of more and more prisons, that hijack more and more state and federal funds away from education, drug rehabilitation, job retraining and other urgent social needs. What does it mean to each of us in the United States when almost two million of our fellow citizens are incarcerated? We in the United States take pride in many of our nation's accomplishments, but I don't think we aspire to be #1 in the world in the number of citizens incarcerated. Nor do we want to boast that one of our fastest growth industries is the building and maintaining of prisons.
I believe that Americans, given the truth, would agree that drugs are a public health issue rather than a criminal issue. We must stop this war, address the problems with compassion, find some real solutions and give peace a chance. "Moral indignation permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue" (Erich Fromm).
The government has used fear tactics to perpetrate their agenda against the American citizens. They know how loyal citizens will rally around a war, and so they call this a "War on Crime" or a "War on Drugs". The truth for us is a travesty of justice, a deterioration of freedom and a destruction of our constitution.
Benjamin Franklin said "They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety". America has given up both, and no one is free or safe as long as this problem remains hidden.
Please consider what I have told you. Please consider the three-year-old grandchild of a woman here who, after visiting, pulled on the pants leg of an officer and said, "Please, Mr. Policeman, can my Grandmother go home with me?"
Susan C. Spry