By any reasonable standard, the War on Drugs has been a total disaster It has not shown any results in terms of reducing drug usage. The cost in money, resources, and lives has been immense. It’s no shock, then, that a whopping 82% of the American public believes it has been a failure. Yet in our political realm, it is the name that cannot be spoken. Political leaders who seriously question it are largely on the fringes, with coverage of the issue mainly relegated to places like Reason and other libertarian sources (as well as some liberal publications). In my experience, it’s rare to even see it discussed in conservative circles - and that’s a great shame. If conservatives could educate themselves on it, I think it could be a great issue. There are numerous reasons why, but here are just three.
First of all, the War on Drugs destroys families, especially within minority communities. Conservatives like to talk about how important the family is, yet seem to be not bothered by the fact that the United States incarcerates 2.3 million people, more than any other nation (except perhaps China). Many of these inmates are fathers, sons, mothers and daughters who are in prison for non-violent drug-related offenses. They are doing hard time alongside violent criminals because our laws are so strict. Instead of getting clean and being able to make something of their lives, they are in prison with felonies on their record, making it near impossible to recover. I can’t see for a second how society and the family unit are bettered by this. Why destroy someone’s life for using drugs?
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has signed into law a bill that would allow residents to use force against police that they believe to be unlawfully entering their home:
The governor’s office says that Daniels signed the bill aimed at giving people the right to defend their homes against illegal entry by police Tuesday evening.
The bill that was a response to a public uproar over a state Supreme Court ruling last year that residents couldn’t resist officers even during an illegal entry.
Supporters say the proposal strengthens the legal rights of people against government agents improperly entering their homes. But police groups worry about the measure giving people justification for attacking officers.
This bill precariously straddles the line between rightfully protecting one’s home and giving incentive for unnecessary violence. The distinction must be made between the unlawful entry of a police officer and that of any other person. The intent of the former, be it correct or not, is to enforce law with as little violence as possible. The intent of any other intruder is to steal property or bring harm to an occupant, and thus always merits force against the intruder.
The bill clarifies when a person is legally justified in using force and when they are not, but codifying this sort of legal defense may encourage residents to make that distinction by means of physical force instead of jurisprudence.
The blog-o-sphere erupted a couple of days ago regarding news of a SWAT Team raid on a home that the home owner said was apparently due to his estranged wife’s non-payment of student loans. The Department of Education immediately claimed that was due to a criminal investigation, which we reported in our original post on this issue.
So what exactly were the suspected crimes that required the Department of Education to send a dozen or so armed men to execute a search warrant at 6 a.m. on the house of a man who was handcuffed for several hours in front of his three bawling pre-teen kids even though the target of the raid was allegedly his estranged wife who no longer lived there? Now we have a partial search warrant to tell us: Financial Aid Fraud, Conspiracy, Theft of Government Funds, False Statement to Government Agency, Wire Fraud. While some of those charges are classic prosecutorial multipliers, it seems likely given this list of DoE Inspector General activities that the underlying charge will be more elaborate than mere trying to weasel out of loan payments.
Now, these allegations are actual, honest to God crimes. This is much, much different than just non-payment of student loans. Fine. However, do any of these crimes warrant a SWAT Team busting in the door? I don’t think so.
Governments generally act stupidly, but sometimes they can be brutal. Imagine it’s 6 AM and a SWAT team busts down your door, handcuffs you, and searches your home. The alleged crime? Non-payment of student loans. I’m telling you folks, I can’t make this crap up, even if I tried.
Courtesy of Matt Welch at Hit&Run:
I know Mike Riggs just mentioned it in the morning links, but if this story isn’t a wake-up call about the militarization of police and criminalization of everything, then I’m afraid the patient is even deader than the Fourth Amendment. Read this, and weep for what your country has become:
STOCKTON, CA – Kenneth Wright does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
“I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers,” Wright said.
Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as a S.W.A.T team barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.
“He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there,” Wright said.
According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11 and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house.
As it turned out, the person law enforcement was looking for was not there – Wright’s estranged wife.