chaptertwelve asked:So. Given what we’ve learned in the past few days, and bearing in mind what we may learn in the days ahead, what do you imagine as our best and worst case scenarios in terms of a path forward? How do you see all of this playing out in the near and distant future?
1. Best case scenario, public outcry grows, and politicians feel pressured to put protections into the law that require probable cause for individualized warrants, and prohibit the blanket kind of surveillance that’s been used by the administration. The FISA court is changed in some way that makes it an actual check on potential abuse. Perhaps the Supreme Court is permitted to review all FISA judgments in camera in some kind of audit for abuse.
2. Worst case scenario, most of the public never cares about the surveillance. Other stories push the issue from the news, and the government continues to amass large amounts of private information concerning all citizens. The FBI starts to access this information for non-terrorist cases. Other government agencies do the same. The IRS checks your online purchases. The EPA monitors purchases of materials that might pollute. Those who express controversial opinions or visit controversial websites are watched. Rogue government employees access private data for their own person gain—selling it to interested parties, blackmailing people engaged in extramarital affairs, stealing identities. You’ll come home from work to find that your home has been ransacked by a SWAT team pursuant to a warrant issued by a secret court for unspecified reasons.
I fear that that the most likely outcome is closer to 2 than 1. Consider how crazy the drug war has become—the massive amounts of money spent to fight it, the increasingly militarized local police forces that enforce prohibition, the asset forfeiture laws that take private property from innocent citizens without any due process, and the massive incarceration of millions of people for extraordinarily long periods of time. At the beginning of the drug war, you’d be laughed at for suggesting that this would happen. But it did, because people just didn’t care, and drugs were scary. Terrorism is scarier than drugs, so you can imagine how that’s going to play out.
(reposted for reblogging)
(P.S. Hey Tumblr, your mobile app is fucking terrible.)
“More Americans are imprisoned for drug offenses or drug-related probation and parole violations than for property crimes. And although America spends five times more jailing drug dealers than it did 30 years ago, the prices of cocaine and heroin are up to 90 percent lower than 30 years ago. … In “Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know,” policy analysts Mark Kleiman, Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken argue that imprisoning low-ranking, street-corner dealers is pointless: A $200 transaction can cost society $100,000 for a three-year sentence.”
“I have to sell weed to get money for school because I can’t get federal aid since I’m a felon. I’m trying to do right.”
“Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities… . The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”
Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison operator in America, statement to stockholders, 2005.
In other words: ending the Drug War and eliminating federal mandatory minimum sentences is bad for business. Adam Gopnik notes that CCA “spends millions lobbying legislators.” presumably, inter alia, to keep harsh sentencing laws on the books.
Private prison industry? What private prison industry?
“You have to keep God first regardless of whatever trials or tribulations you might have in life. If you don’t believe in God, hey, I don’t have anything against you, but I’m still going to tell you what I have to say. You just can’t get out of that hog pen by yourself. You have to be a humble person and have respect. It’s not just about football. That’s what I try to pass on.”
Sam Hurd, then with the Dallas Cowboys, discussing what he was trying to stress in youth football camps two-and-a-half years ago.
Now with the Chicago Bears, Hurd has been arrested on felony drug charges for allegedly seeking five to ten kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana per week as well as having a list of the NFL players he distributed to that is in “double digits.”
“Black youth are arrested for drug crimes at a rate ten times higher than that of whites. But new research shows that young African Americans are actually less likely to use drugs and less likely to develop substance use disorders, compared to whites, Native Americans, Hispanics and people of mixed race.”
“The ‘war on drugs’ has been well lost, and should never have been waged. While it isn’t explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, I can think of no political right more fundamental than the right to peacefully steward the contents of one’s own consciousness. The fact that we pointlessly ruin the lives of nonviolent drug users by incarcerating them, at enormous expense, constitutes one of the great moral failures of our time.”