More Women on Drug Charges are Filling Jails

Addiction is driving skyrocketing rates of incarcerated women, tearing apart families while squeezing communities that lack money, treatment programs and solutions to close the revolving door. The number of women in local jails jumped from 13,258 in 1980 to 102,300 in 2016.

The Campbell County Jail in Jacksboro, Tn., in a remote corner of Appalachia, offers an agonizing glimpse into how the tidal wave of opioids and methamphetamines has ravaged the nation, the Associated Press reports. Addiction is driving skyrocketing rates of incarcerated women, tearing apart families while squeezing communities that lack money, treatment programs and permanent solutions to close the revolving door. More than a decade ago, there were rarely more than 10 women in the jail. Now the total is around 60. Most who end up there were arrested on a drug charge and confined to a cell 23 hours a day. Many of their bunkmates also are addicts. They receive no counseling. Then weeks, months or years later, they’re released into the same community where friends — and in some cases, family — are using drugs. Soon they are again, too. See also: Treat Women Prisoners With Dignity, Texas report says

The cycle begins anew: Another arrest, another booking photo, another pink uniform and off to a cell. Campbell County faces formidable odds. In 2015, it had the third-highest amount of opioids prescribed per person of all U.S. counties. There were enough opioids to medicate every single resident around-the-clock for 15 weeks. Mayor E.L. Morton blames the drug industry and doctors. Two lawsuits against opioid makers are pending on behalf of the county and its 40,000 residents. “If you were fighting the Mafia, you’d be aiming for the head of the organization,” he says. “Well, the top of this organization is fully legal, and we have the most respected profession that is doing it to us.” As much as 90 percent of the crime in a five-county district is connected to drugs. Women are often the culprits. Women in jail are the fastest-growing correctional population. Their numbers rose from 13,258 in 1980 to 102,300 in 2016, with the biggest jump in smaller counties, says the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

from https://thecrimereport.org

What Is Addiction?

     Addiction is not a function of drug use–rather, it is a standard feedback phenomenon that occurs with or without drugs, whereby people immerse themselves in immediately rewarding experiences that detract from their larger lives. This definition of addiction makes clear that addiction is not a drug-centered trait. Addiction doesn’t occur only with drugs and doesn’t invariably occur when certain drugs are used. There is nothing inherent in narcotics, cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana that makes them irresistibly addictive. Moreover, people who do become addicted, contrary to both popular mythology and government pronouncements, usually attenuate or end their addictions…(Keep in mind, cigarettes and cocaine were only declared addictive in the 1980s, and marijuana in the 1990s.)…

     The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that only a small percentage (less than five percent) of people who have ever used cocaine, heroin, crack, and meth are currently addicted to these drugs. Carl Hart, an experimental neuroscientist and author of High Price, calculates that 10 to 20 percent of those using drugs (he studies crack and methamphetamine) encounter problems…

     Some researchers questioned users in detail about their current and past drug experiences. The largest and most thorough such investigation of cocaine was conducted at Canada’s addiction research agency. The study, published as “The Steel Drug,” found that the large majority of people who experienced a range of problems from cocaine (sinusitis, nasal irritation, headaches, insomnia) quit the drug or cut back their use of it….

Stanton Peele, “How Television Distorts Drug Addiction,” reason.com, January 18, 2015  

     Addiction is not a function of drug use--rather, it is a standard feedback phenomenon that occurs with or without drugs, whereby people immerse themselves in immediately rewarding experiences that detract from their larger lives. This definition of addiction makes clear that addiction is not a drug-centered trait. Addiction doesn't occur only with drugs and doesn't invariably occur when certain drugs are used. There is nothing inherent in narcotics, cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana that makes them irresistibly addictive. Moreover, people who do become addicted, contrary to both popular mythology and government pronouncements, usually attenuate or end their addictions…(Keep in mind, cigarettes and cocaine were only declared addictive in the 1980s, and marijuana in the 1990s.)…

     The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that only a small percentage (less than five percent) of people who have ever used cocaine, heroin, crack, and meth are currently addicted to these drugs. Carl Hart, an experimental neuroscientist and author of High Price, calculates that 10 to 20 percent of those using drugs (he studies crack and methamphetamine) encounter problems…

     Some researchers questioned users in detail about their current and past drug experiences. The largest and most thorough such investigation of cocaine was conducted at Canada's addiction research agency. The study, published as "The Steel Drug," found that the large majority of people who experienced a range of problems from cocaine (sinusitis, nasal irritation, headaches, insomnia) quit the drug or cut back their use of it….

Stanton Peele, "How Television Distorts Drug Addiction," reason.com, January 18, 2015  

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

President Nixon’s War on Drugs

     On 14 July 1969, President Nixon announced a national “war on drugs.” His “Special Message to the Congress on Control of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs” was a prelude to introducing the new legislation that would be the first battle plan of the war….And so began a sixteen-month process of legislative give-and-take, political maneuvering, and bureaucratic jockeying.

     The president seemed to acknowledge the less-than-complete public agreement with respect to the size and importance of the drug problem in saying, “A national awareness of the gravity of the situation is needed: a new urgency and concerted national policy are needed at the federal level to begin to cope with this growing menace to the general welfare of the United States.” He went on to draw the parallel between narcotics use and crime in no uncertain terms, saying, “Narcotics have been cited as a primary cause of the enormous increase in street crimes over the last decade….An addict can be forced to commit two or three burglaries a day to maintain his habit.” [Since Nixon’s speech, crime rates have fallen drastically while the drug war rages on.]

David F. Musto, M.D. and Pamela Korsmeyer, The Quest for Drug Control, 2002 

     On 14 July 1969, President Nixon announced a national "war on drugs." His "Special Message to the Congress on Control of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs" was a prelude to introducing the new legislation that would be the first battle plan of the war….And so began a sixteen-month process of legislative give-and-take, political maneuvering, and bureaucratic jockeying.

     The president seemed to acknowledge the less-than-complete public agreement with respect to the size and importance of the drug problem in saying, "A national awareness of the gravity of the situation is needed: a new urgency and concerted national policy are needed at the federal level to begin to cope with this growing menace to the general welfare of the United States." He went on to draw the parallel between narcotics use and crime in no uncertain terms, saying, "Narcotics have been cited as a primary cause of the enormous increase in street crimes over the last decade….An addict can be forced to commit two or three burglaries a day to maintain his habit." [Since Nixon's speech, crime rates have fallen drastically while the drug war rages on.]

David F. Musto, M.D. and Pamela Korsmeyer, The Quest for Drug Control, 2002 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Manhattan DA To Stop Filing Pot Possession Cases

New York City plans to relax the enforcement of marijuana offenses amid claims that current policies disproportionately harm minorities Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the department would form a working group to review policies and procedures for arrests and summonses for marijuana offenses.

New York City plans to relax the enforcement of marijuana offenses amid claims that current policies disproportionately harm minorities, the Wall Street Journal reports. Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the department would form a working group to review policies and procedures for arrests and summonses for marijuana offenses. Some prosecutors’ offices also announced changes. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office won’t prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases as of Aug. 1. “We must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It’s time for those to be a thing of the past in New York City and all over this country.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said his office had already decreased its prosecution of marijuana cases and would work toward prosecuting only those few cases that included public-safety concerns. Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark asked the NYPD to issue summonses instead of arresting people for public use and possession. Police officials have previously said responding to marijuana complaints can sometimes lead to the arrests of violent criminals. City Council member Fernando Cabrera said Monday he wants police to respond to each complaint they receive for marijuana in his Bronx district because it is a common concern among his constituents. While recreational use and open possession of marijuana is against the law, de Blasio directed the police to issue summonses, which result in a $100 fine and require the person to attend summons court, to most caught possessing marijuana. Arrests for marijuana offenses are down 32 percent over the last four years while the issuance of summonses is up 57 percent.

from https://thecrimereport.org

SBA Will Deny Loans to Businesses Dealing With Pot

A new Small Business Administration policy could force entrepreneurs to choose between serving cannabis clients and getting a federally subsidized loan. The federal agency said it won’t approve loans to businesses that derive any portion of their revenue from sales to marijuana clients, because the drug is illegal under federal law.

State marijuana legalization has created a moneymaking opportunity not only for licensed growers and sellers but also for a wide range of ancillary businesses, from publicly traded garden product companies to local print shops. Now a new Small Business Administration (SBA) policy could force some entrepreneurs to choose between serving cannabis clients and getting a federally subsidized loan, reports Stateline. The federal agency said last month that it won’t approve loans to businesses that derive any portion of their revenue from sales to marijuana clients, because the drug is illegal under federal law. The policy could hurt local nature centers, architects, designers, attorneys and other businesses that occasionally work with licensed weed industry, experts say.

Supporters of cannabis legalization are speaking out against the lending policy. “This rule would be impossible to implement and wreak havoc across multiple sectors of the economy,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told the SBA. “For example, would just one order from a cannabis business for soil preclude a locally-owned garden center from receiving federal government loan support in the future?” Nine states and Washington, D.C. allow marijuana to be sold for recreational and medical use and 21 others allow it to be sold for medical use. Nationwide, sales of the plant and its products hit an estimated $8.6 billion in 2017 and supported over 121,000 jobs, said a report from the Arcview Group and BDS Analytics, cannabis industry research firms. That’s almost double the sales Arcview estimated for 2014. Even more jobs have been created at non-marijuana businesses. The SBA has backed over 300,000 loans since fiscal 2013, and some recipients are currently serving cannabis clients. The agency’s new policy could make them ineligible for future loan assistance.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NJ Prosecutors to Drop 1,169 Drug Cases in Testing Scandal

Prosecutors are moving to dismiss at least 1,169 drug cases undermined by a New Jersey State Police lab scandal because the evidence was destroyed before it could be retested. A technician was caught “dry-labbing” evidence, recording a positive identification of a suspect without properly analyzing a sample.

Prosecutors are moving to dismiss at least 1,169 drug cases undermined by a New Jersey State Police lab scandal because the evidence was destroyed before it could be retested, reports NJ.com. The disclosure comes as a special judge appointed to deal with the legal fallout of accusations against a drug lab chemist ordered the Attorney General’s Office to finish retesting thousands of affected cases. Judge Edward Jerejian was appointed in 2016 to oversee the case, which began when a technician at a state Office of Forensic Sciences laboratory was accused of falsifying records in a single drug case. The technician, Kamalkant Shah, was allegedly caught in 2015 “dry-labbing” evidence in the marijuana case — essentially recording a positive identification without properly analyzing the sample. Shah was the subject of a criminal investigation but ultimately was not charged.

That left local, county and state authorities open to challenges to the convictions of any case Shah touched during his time at the lab. More than two years later, Jerejian laid out a three-step process for vetting the cases, which could total anywhere from 7,827 to 14,800. The Attorney General’s Office has already retested 1,326 samples from cases Shah handled, all of them “affirming the original positive test results” for drugs. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said his office was “committed to ensuring that no conviction is upheld unless we are satisfied that any drug testing conducted was in fact reliable.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Mexican Drug Cartels, Officials Collude in ‘Crimes Against Humanity’: Report

A report by the Open Society Justice Initiative calls for an international investigation of two massacres committed by drug gangs in the Mexican state of Coahuila on the U.S. border that left 450 people dead. The incidents illustrate what researchers say is a nationwide pattern of collusion between narco-cartels and corrupt authorities that has turned the U.S. closest southern neighbor into a killing ground.

coahuila

Coahuila, Mexico, one of Mexico’s 31 states.

Government and police officials in the Mexican state of Coahuila, on the U.S. border, have colluded in massacres by narco-cartels that constitute “crimes against humanity,” according to a new report by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The report singled out two separate examples between 2009 and 2012—the killing of approximately 300 men, women and children in the northern municipality of Allende and nearby towns, and the disappearance, torture and murder of 150 individuals inside a prison that served as de facto headquarters for the Zeta drug cartel—to underline what it called the “systemic” problems of drug corruption, violence and official impunity in Mexico.

“These (two examples) bear the hallmarks of crimes against humanity, given the scale and systematic nature with which they were carried out,” said the report, which called for the establishment of an independent international body to investigate the “corrupt networks between public officials and organized crime” across Mexico.

“Such international participation and support will be essential to combatting the political obstruction and partisan interests that currently impede Mexico’s troubled justice system.”

Published just ahead of the July 1 federal elections in Mexico, the report charges that the outgoing government of President Enrique Peña Nieto has presided over a “worsening” climate of murder and corruption. The 2017 toll of 25,000 homicides represents the deadliest single year since drug-fueled violence engulfed the country in 2006, according to the report.

The killings have continued despite Peña Nieto’s pledge to control Mexico’s escalating violence, the report said, noting that “his administration has maintained the same militarized approach (as his predecessors) to a deadly and ill-conceived ‘war on drugs,’ while continuing to target cartel kingpins.”

Andrés Manuel López Obrador

Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo via Wikipedia

The report’s findings underline the fear and anger that currently fuels growing public support for presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor who has been characterized as Mexico’s “answer” to U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Open Society report, based on research and interviews with victims and officials with the support of a number of Mexican human rights organizations, said the evidence suggested that police and government officials at senior levels were involved in the planning and cover-up of the incidents in Coahuila, as well as similar “atrocities” elsewhere in Mexico—including the torture and murder of journalists and human rights workers.

A similar study published last month in Spanish by the United Nations Subcommittee to Prevent Torture found “corruption and collusion between criminal groups and penal authorities and personnel” and concluded that “impunity in cases of torture is the rule” in Mexico’s prisons.

The authors of the Open Society study, which followed an earlier report on Mexico’s drug violence three years earlier, singled out systemic corruption as the driving force behind the two incidents in Coahuila, which they said illustrate the transformation of a largely rural state with a population of less than three million that occupies a 318-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border into a “narco state” over the past decade.

During a three-day period in 2011, some 300 individuals were murdered in apparent revenge killings throughout northern Coahuila by assassins from the Zeta cartel. Local officials, including the mayor and police commander, were informed in advance “to ensure they would not intervene,” the report said.

Between 2009-2012, the CERESO Piedras Negras prison, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Tx., was used by the Zeta leadership as “an extermination camp and a base of operations to extend its reign of terror” in Coahuila, with the apparent knowledge and involvement of local authorities, according to the report.

“Further investigation is required to answer the questions [raised by the incidents], and to expose the formal (and informal) networks that appear to exist between Coahuila’s political and economic elite and organized crime,” the report said.

“Indeed, despite numerous cases of embezzlement and money laundering involving public servants in Coahuila’s last three administrations, little has been done to investigate and prosecute such corruption.”

The two incidents were only the most egregious examples of the “complicity” of officials in all areas of the country with human rights abuses committed by powerful cartels, added the report.

“[There are] increasing signs that corruption, and the violent crime it enables, are widespread across a number of states in Mexico—from Veracruz to Tamaulipas, from Guerrero to Chihuahua,” said the report.

“Indeed, there are compelling reasons to believe that the complicity of corrupt public officials in cartel-led atrocity crimes may be a widespread, recurrent pattern.”

open societyThe report also comes as concern is rising about stepped-up cross-border heroin trafficking by Mexican cartels in the wake of the U.S. opioid crisis.

Although the U.S. is not mentioned, the researchers’ implicit condemnation of the failure of Mexico’s ruling party—the Partido Revolucionario Institucional—to reign in the corruption of military, police and political officials, indirectly raises questions about Washington’s long-standing financial support and military aid to the Mexican government’s war on drugs.

The report said an “international investigative mechanism” was needed to establish accountability for the corruption and violence prevailing during the drug war.

The investigative body should be based inside Mexico and composed of national and international staff with a “mandate to independently investigate and, when necessary, prosecute atrocity crimes and the corruptive acts that enable them,” said the report, produced in collaboration with eight Mexican civil society and church groups.

“This body would also complement and support credible domestic criminal proceedings at both the state and federal level.”

The full report, entitled “Corruption That Kills,” can be downloaded here.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Fentanyl Hitting California, State With Low Drug Death Rate

Officials suspect that three men who died in downtown Los Angeles late last month had snorted cocaine laced with fentanyl. “We don’t know whether this is an anomaly, or whether it’s a bellwether of something that’s about to hit,” said UCLA Prof. Steve Shoptaw.

Fentanyl, a potent opioid already responsible for thousands of deaths nationwide, is increasingly showing up in drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine in California, the Los Angeles Times reports.  The white powder, a lethal substance 50 times stronger than heroin, is sometimes mixed into other opioids to produce a stronger high. Now its presence in non-opioids has public health experts worried that California may be staring down a new dimension of the deadly epidemic. Officials suspect that three men who died in downtown Los Angeles late last month had snorted cocaine laced with fentanyl. “We don’t know whether this is an anomaly, or whether it’s a bellwether of something that’s about to hit,” said UCLA Prof. Steve Shoptaw, who studies substance abuse. Although California has avoided the worst of the opioid epidemic, the drug market is dominated by stimulants, the drugs that have just started to be mixed with fentanyl.

Fentanyl deaths in California tripled between 2016 and 2017. Fentanyl, which can kill even in small doses, is dangerous for experienced opioid users, and even more so for people with no tolerance for opioids. Experts don’t know whether dealers are purposely or accidentally tainting drugs with fentanyl. Fentanyl has been prescribed as a painkiller for cancer patients since the 1960s. An illicit version can be easily mixed with other drugs without being noticed. Several people in San Francisco recently died from consuming fentanyl with methamphetamine, counterfeit Xanax or crack cocaine. There have been reports elsewhere of fentanyl in the rave drug MDMA. “We aren’t seeing the volume or the impact that … is happening on the East Coast, but we know that could change,” said Rachael Kagan of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health. “We’re really on high alert.” California has the seventh lowest drug-overdose death rate in the nation.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Beware of the Naked Guy

     In recent years, dozens of naked men high on meth, PCP, synthetic marijuana, or bath salts violently assaulted, murdered, and in a few cases, ate part of their victims. These hallucinating assailants shed their clothing because the …

     In recent years, dozens of naked men high on meth, PCP, synthetic marijuana, or bath salts violently assaulted, murdered, and in a few cases, ate part of their victims. These hallucinating assailants shed their clothing because the designer drugs caused their bodies to abnormally heat-up. Police officers, after their taser guns failed to bring these rampaging, drugged-up zombies under control, had to shoot a few of them.

Abraham Luna: The Nude Nutcase From Tarpon Springs

     Police officers in Tarpon Springs, a Florida town of 23,000 in Pinellas County not far from Tampa, received a strange call at 6:50 Monday morning, November 26, 2012. Residents of a neighborhood near the Tarpon Springs Golf Course had seen a man running about with nothing on but a pair of construction boots. (The nude man was later identified as 30-year-old Abraham Luna.) By the time patrol officers rolled into the area, Luna, a resident of Tarpon Springs, was gone.

     The following day, at 4:17 in the morning, a Tarpon Springs officer tried to pull over a nude man driving a white van at high rates of speed on U.S. Route 19. The officer discontinued his pursuit of Luna when the van crossed into Pasco County. As a result, Luna escaped arrest.

     Fifteen minutes after eluding arrest in Pinellas County, Abraham Luna pulled into a 7-Elven store along Route 19 in Holiday, Florida. The nude man walked into the store, and without provocation, started shoving, scratching, and punching a male employee. "What's wrong with you?" the clerk exclaimed.

     "You asked for it," Luna replied.

     When a second 7-Eleven employee told Luna to leave, the naked assailant strolled out of the store and climbed back into his van. But instead of pulling back onto the highway, Luna gunned the vehicle toward the store, stopping just before crashing into the building. He next got out of the van, and tried to open the door of a car that belonged to one of the store clerks. Unable to steal the employee's vehicle, Luna climbed back into his van and drove north in the southbound lane.

     The brief police pursuit of Luna on Route 19 ended when the van sideswiped a patrol car driven by a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy. Luma jumped out of the van and ran, but was quickly apprehended by a deputy who jolted him with a taser device.

     The Pinellas County prosecutor threw the book at Luna, charging him with aggravated assault, aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, reckless driving, aggravated fleeing to elude arrest, driving with a revoked license, and violation of his probation.

     Luna, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2007, was incarcerated in the Pinellas County Jail in Land O' Lakes, Florida. After his arrest, Luna explained his nudity to reporters by saying it was a shock tactic that gave him an advantage in fights.  Fortunately, the tactic of being nude did not protect him against being shocked by the police.

Coco Bennett: Nude Man With Samurai Sword

     The San Jose police, on New Year's Day 2013 at eight in the morning, received a call regarding a man, later identified as 29-year-old Coco Bennett, carrying an assault rifle in a residential neighborhood. Bennett climbed into a pickup and drove out of the area before the police arrived.

     San Jose officers came upon Bennett's truck a few miles from where he had been seen with the assault rifle. As they approached his truck, the nude driver exited the vehicle carrying a large, samurai sword. "You're going to have to kill me," Bennett said.

     Instead of shooting Bennett, the officers at the scene called in San Jose's Crisis Intervention Team. Following a two-hour stand-off involving 32 police officers, the naked man ran toward a nearby fence. When he tried to climb the barrier, Bennett fell and dropped his sword. Officers took this opportunity to take him into custody. From Bennett's truck officers recovered his AR-15 assault rifle. Had he come out of his truck armed with the AR-15, Mr. Bennett would have been shot to death.

     After being treated at a local hospital for minor injuries, Bennett was taken to the Santa Clara County Jail.

The Naked Connecticut Church Intruder

     The day after Coco Bennett's arrest in San Jose, a nude Gary Pohronezny burst into the St. James Catholic Church in Killingly, Connecticut. The 41-year-old from Brooklyn, New York barged into the church at one-thirty in the afternoon, interrupting a religious service attended by adults and several school children. A member of the congregation called 911, and after a brief scuffle, officers took the naked man into custody.

     Charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with police, Pohronezny ended up in a hospital in Putnam, Connecticut where he underwent psychiatric evaluation.

The Naked Home Intruder

     A Miami homeowner, on January 3, 2013, was awakened at five o'clock in the morning by the sound of his barking dog. The man causing the commotion, a naked home invader named Jeffrey Delice, was choking the pet. When the 20-year-old intruder tried to bite and choke the resident of the home, the homeowner shot him in the foot. Delice, high on drugs, was charged with a variety of offenses including burglary, assault, and resisting arrest.

     Note: Since I couldn't find any news updates on any of these men, I assume these cases were handled outside of the criminal justice system.

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Abuse of Prescription Drugs

     Prescription drugs can be classified into three categories: narcotics (including Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet), depressants (including Xanax, Valium, and Librium), and stimulants (including Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Meridia). Drug…

     Prescription drugs can be classified into three categories: narcotics (including Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet), depressants (including Xanax, Valium, and Librium), and stimulants (including Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Meridia). Drugs like Ritalin can lead a user to experience feelings of hostility and paranoia. Higher does of a drug like Xanax can cause impairment of judgment and irritability as well as paranoia, suicidal thoughts, agitation, and aggressiveness.

Phil Chalmers, Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer, 2009 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/