Tagdrugwar

Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry’s research department expects to continue for some time.

NRC: Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

(via Cryptogon)

Questions:

1. If certain politicians and pundits are to believed, The Netherlands has been experiencing a crime epidemic as the result of rampant immigration. Could it be that this was only xenophobic scare mongering?

2. What would happen in the US if prison populations were to decline? Also, since the US has been experiencing overall reductions in crime over time as well, why is our prison population not decreasing? What is the key difference between the US and the the Netherlands in this regard?

Update: I forgot to give link back to Cryptogon early. Many apologies.

End of the War on Drugs? Dream on.

Unfortunately, it’s the name he doesn’t like, not the policy. […]

According to the Journal, “Mr. Kerlikowske’s comments are a signal that the Obama administration is set to follow a more moderate—and likely more controversial—stance on the nation’s drug problems….The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment’s role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said.”

Where have we heard this before? From Barry McCaffrey, Bill Clinton’s drug czar.

Full Story: Hit and Run.

(via Radley Balko).

As always, I recommend you read Balko’s Overkill (available in print or free PDF), his chronicle of how Reagan turned the “War on Drugs” into an actual war by militarizing the police, and how the Clinton administration escalated it.

Unless the Obama administration is planning on de-militarizing the police and/or legalizing drugs, they are not ending the drug war.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Time for a New Debate on Marijuana Legalization

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called on Tuesday for an open debate on legalizing and taxing marijuana. A recent Field Poll showed that 56 percent of Californians support taxing and regulating marijuana as a way to address the state’s fiscal crisis. Schwarzenegger was asked at a press conference if it was finally time to legalize marijuana.

“No, I think that it’s not time for that, but I think it’s time for a debate,” he said, according to a transcript provided by Schwarzenegger’s office. “And I think that we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana and other drugs, what affect it had on those countries, and are they happy with that decision.”

The Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, recently called for the United States to hold such a debate to address cartel-related violence. Mexico has decriminalized possession of marijuana but doesn’t tax it.

Huffington Post: Arnold: Time To Talk About Legalizing Pot

(via Richard Metzger)

Obama’s drug policy: a little better, a little worse, mostly the same

Radley Balko on Obama’s drug war policies:

To give credit where it’s due, Attorney General Eric Holder did at least vow to end the DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized the drug for treatment. But the DEA conducted another raid in California a week after that announcement, and it is not yet clear if the Justice Department will continue to pursue existing cases, such as the outrageous prosecution of Charlie Lynch, the owner of a California medical marijuana shop who faces a 40-year sentence on federal drug charges, even though local authorities told him he was in full compliance with state law.

Obama could distinguish himself in Mexico today by taking the thoughtful, nuanced approach to the drug issue he embraced before he started to run for president. Sadly, it is more likely that he’ll endorse the same failed policies of his predecessors, which will mean more violence and carnage for Mexico, with little if any effect on the drug supply in America.

Daily Beast: Obama’s Demented Drug Policy

Sounds like the vow to stop medical marijuana raids is yet another bait and switch, a familiar pattern to observers of the administration already.

Tearful Atlanta Cops Express Remorse for Shooting 92-Year-Old Kathryn Johnston, Leaving Her To Bleed to Death in Her Own Home While They Planted Drugs in Her Basement, Then Threatening an Informant So He Would Lie To Cover It All Up

Radley Balko writes:

Kathryn Johnston’s death is tragic. But the real tragedy here is that had the cops found a stash of marijuana in her basement that actually did belong to her–say for pain treatment or nausea–her death would have faded quickly from the national news, these tactics would have been deemed by most to be wholly legitimate, and we probably wouldn’t still be talking about her today.

These cops were evil. But they worked within an evil system that’s not only immoral on its face, but is rife with bad incentives and plays to the worst instincts in human nature.

Full Story: the Agitator

Blackwater Worldwide Changes Its Name to Xe; Same Mercenaries, but Now with More “Aviation Support”

Blackwater Worldwide is still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, but executives at the beleaguered security firm are taking their biggest step yet to put that work and the ugly reputation it earned the company behind them.

Blackwater said Friday it will no longer operate under the name that came to be known worldwide as a caustic moniker for private security, dropping the tarnished brand for a disarming and simple identity: Xe, which is pronounced like the letter “z.”

It’s a rare surrender for a company that cherished a brand name inspired by the dark-water swamps of northeastern North Carolina, one that survived another rebranding effort about a year ago, following a deadly shooting in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. The decision to give it up underscores how badly the Moyock-based company’s brand was damaged by that incident and other security work in Iraq.

Full Story: Cryptogon

Blackwater Worldwide Changes Its Name to Xe; Same Mercenaries, but Now with More “Aviation Support”

Blackwater Worldwide is still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, but executives at the beleaguered security firm are taking their biggest step yet to put that work and the ugly reputation it earned the company behind them.

Blackwater said Friday it will no longer operate under the name that came to be known worldwide as a caustic moniker for private security, dropping the tarnished brand for a disarming and simple identity: Xe, which is pronounced like the letter “z.”

It’s a rare surrender for a company that cherished a brand name inspired by the dark-water swamps of northeastern North Carolina, one that survived another rebranding effort about a year ago, following a deadly shooting in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. The decision to give it up underscores how badly the Moyock-based company’s brand was damaged by that incident and other security work in Iraq.

Full Story: Cryptogon

Related External Links

California May Be Forced to Release Up to a Third of All Prisoners

Federal judges on Monday tentatively ordered California to release tens of thousands of inmates, up to a third of all prisoners, in the next three years to stop dangerous overcrowding.

As many as 57,000 could be let go if the current population were cut by the maximum percentage considered by a three-judge panel. Judges said the move could be done without threatening public safety — and might improve a public safety hazard.

The state immediately said it would appeal the final ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trend-setting California, the Golden State, has an immense prison system responsible for nearly 170,000 inmates, and their care has become a major political and budget issue as officials weigh multibillion costs of improved facilities against death and illness behind bars.

Full Story: Reuters

(via Cryptogon)

California May Be Forced to Release Up to a Third of All Prisoners

Federal judges on Monday tentatively ordered California to release tens of thousands of inmates, up to a third of all prisoners, in the next three years to stop dangerous overcrowding.

As many as 57,000 could be let go if the current population were cut by the maximum percentage considered by a three-judge panel. Judges said the move could be done without threatening public safety — and might improve a public safety hazard.

The state immediately said it would appeal the final ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trend-setting California, the Golden State, has an immense prison system responsible for nearly 170,000 inmates, and their care has become a major political and budget issue as officials weigh multibillion costs of improved facilities against death and illness behind bars.

Full Story: Reuters

(via Cryptogon)

Related External Links

Criminalizing science: chemistry student arrested for home lab

A Canadian college student majoring in chemistry built himself a home lab – and discovered that trying to do science in your own home quickly leads to accusations of drug-making and terrorism.

Lewis Casey, an 18-year-old in Saskatchewan, had built a small chemistry lab in his family’s garage near the university where he studies. Then two weeks ago, police arrived at his home with a search warrant and based on a quick survey of his lab determined that it was a meth lab. They pulled Casey out of the shower to interrogate him, and then arrested him.

A few days later, police admitted that Casey’s chemistry lab wasn’t a meth lab – but they kept him in jail, claiming that he had some of the materials necessary to produce explosives. Friends and neighbors wrote dozens of letters to the court, testifying that Casey was innocent and merely a student who is really enthusiastic about chemistry.

Full Story: io9

(Thanks Justin!)

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