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Fri Jun 27, 2014, 03:25 PM

Lock 'Em Up Nation


How did the United States, land of the free, become the world’s top jailer? It’s a question asked by visitors from other democracies, and the American citizen who wakes from a stupor to find that our prisons are stuffed with people serving interminable sentences for nonviolent crimes.

For the answer, you need look no further than the real America, the sparsely settled, ruggedly beautiful, financially struggling eastern third of Washington State. There, 70-year-old Larry Harvey, his wife, two family members and a friend are facing mandatory 10-year prison terms for growing medical marijuana — openly and, they thought, legally — on their farm near the little town of Kettle Falls.

To get a sense of the tragic absurdity of this federal prosecution, reaching all the way to the desk of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., consider what will happen next month. Pot stores will open in Washington, selling legal marijuana for the recreational user — per a vote of the people. A few weeks later, the Feds will try to put away the so-called Kettle Falls Five for growing weed on their land to ease their medical maladies. Federal sentencing guidelines, which trump state law, call for mandatory prison terms.

Harvey is a former long-haul truck driver with a bad knee, spasms of gout and high blood pressure. He says he has no criminal record, and spends much of his time in a wheelchair. His wife, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, is a retired hairdresser with arthritis and osteoporosis. Mr. Harvey says he takes his wife’s home-baked marijuana confections when the pain in his knee starts to flare. The Harveys thought they were in the clear, growing 68 marijuana plants on their acreage in northeast Washington, one of 22 states allowing legal medical marijuana. (Federal authorities say they are several plants over the limit.)

Link to information on reform of mandatory sentencing - The Smart Sentencing Act from Durbin and Lee

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Lock 'Em Up Nation (Original post)
RainDog Jun 2014 OP
RainDog Jun 2014 #1
NaturalHigh Jun 2014 #2
RainDog Jun 2014 #3
Uncle Joe Jun 2014 #4
RainDog Jun 2014 #5
Uncle Joe Jun 2014 #6

Response to RainDog (Original post)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 05:56 PM

1. kick n/t

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 07:28 PM

2. I've long been in favor of releasing inmates...

convicted only of non-violent drug offenses. The war on drugs has been an abysmal failure.

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Response to NaturalHigh (Reply #2)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 07:38 PM

3. It's been a success for the for-profit prison industry

And legislators have passed laws to make sure it's profitable - like ones that say 75% of any sentence must be served.

I think any democracy with a for-profit prison industry is a democracy in decline because of capitalism. I'm not opposed to capitalism, but I am opposed to basic services and legal issues being for sale to the highest bidder (or, actually, to the buddy of a politician who got him elected.)

Sentencing reform is a peaceful storming of the bastille.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 07:47 PM

4. There needs to be widespread amnesty for non-violent drug offenders and if

anything should be outlawed, that would be the for profit prisons.

There is simply no redeeming quality to allow such an industry to exist that profits from the imprisonment of the American People, this can only lead to executive, legislative and judicial corruption.

It boggles the mind that such an institution is allowed to exist.

Thanks for the thread, RainDog.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #4)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 08:11 PM

5. It's tragic

Last edited Fri Jun 27, 2014, 10:32 PM - Edit history (1)

and even with a move to halt stop and frisk, NY city police, for instance, are still putting (mostly) minority kids into the system for something that's not even illegal (possession is decriminalized for small amts. if it's not visible, so cops make the kids empty their pockets to find some reason to put them into the system.)

That's just shameful.

No kid in suburbia has to deal with that sort of treatment.

Of course, I don't think kids should use marijuana, but I don't think law enforcement should make a situation far worse than it needs to be by harassing people based upon their neighborhood or skin color - but that's exactly what goes on, and that's what starts the pipeline to prison, because of all the backlash from an arrest - for something they shouldn't be arrested for anyway, based upon the way the law is written.

That's why decriminalization isn't enough.

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Response to RainDog (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 08:19 PM

6. I agree, it is tragic,

and here we are in the 21st century, and still having a Jim Crow mentality.

People need to get over this we vs them skin color shit, there is only one race, that being the human one.

Stupid, fearful and greedy bastards, that's all it is.

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