New tactics, new heroes!

Jeff Soyer (God bless him!) has sounded the alarm about a horrendous new piece of proposed legislation which would require ten year mandatory minimum sentences for anyone who so much as passes a joint to someone under eighteen:

As the Republicans continue to self-destruct and also continue the "war on drugs", along comes Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner who introduced a bill on April 6th that would impose mandatory federal sentences for even the most minor crimes. I heard about this tonight on the Rolley James show and actually dragged myself out of bed to blog about it.

It's called "Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005". moves things around a lot so do a search for HR 1528 here. Please read it. It drastically increases the penalties for violating the federal controlled-substances act.

Here's what could happen. A bunch of folks are at a party and someone 21-years-old passes a joint to a person under 18. Mandatory 10-years in federal prison, no parole. Second offense: Life in prison, no parole. (Mandatory 5 years if they are 18-20 years old.)

As if we didn't need more proof of the Molochian nature of the Drug War. These laws create a constituency of armed bureaucrats who love to imprison people for human appetite crimes, and demand constantly harsher sentences. More and more people are sent to prison, and more and more people are subject to prosecutorial blackmail. Why, the latter is even being cited as a reason to pass the law:
In a way sentencing guidelines cannot, mandatory minimum statutes provide a level of uniformity and predictability in sentencing. They deter certain types of criminal behavior determined by Congress to be sufficiently egregious as to merit harsh penalties by clearly forewarning the potential offender and the public at large of the minimum potential consequences of committing such an offense. And mandatory minimum sentences can also incapacitate dangerous offenders for long periods of time, thereby increasing public safety. Equally important, mandatory minimum sentences provide an indispensable tool for prosecutors, because they provide the strongest incentive to defendants to cooperate against the others who were involved in their criminal activity.

In drug cases, where the ultimate goal is to rid society of the entire trafficking enterprise, mandatory minimum statutes are especially significant. Unlike a bank robbery, for which a bank teller or an ordinary citizen could be a critical witness, often in drug cases the critical witnesses are drug users and/or other drug traffickers. The offer of relief from a mandatory minimum sentence in exchange for truthful testimony allows the Government to move steadily and effectively up the chain of supply, using the lesser distributors to prosecute the more serious dealers and their leaders and suppliers. Mandatory minimum sentences are needed in appropriate circumstances, such as trafficking involving minors and trafficking in and around drug treatment centers.

Blah blah blah. Bureaucratese is bad enough, but there's something positively creepy about treating ten years of someone's life as a trading commodity to be bargained away through a legalized process of government extortion -- the goal of which is to replace a free country with a society of informants.

I realize that the hysteria surrounding what we call "children" is so impenetrable that some will continue to believe that any and all government abuses are justified, and I understand what a pain in the ass it is to read through mind-numbing legislation like this.

But please! Read on a moment more! (Especially those of you who "never get involved," and who think that because you'd never pass a joint to a teenager at a party that you're not affected.)

Kindly Congressman Sensenbrenner has not forgotten about you, the ordinary person, who might mistakenly attend a party where someone passes a joint to a teenager.

He's added a bonus!

If you see or even learn that someone handed the joint to a teenager, why, you'd now be required to become a rat! That's right, under this law, you'd have an affirmative duty to become an active government informant, or face a federal prison term of 2-10 years!


(1) IN GENERAL.--Part D of the Controlled Substances Act is amended by adding at the end the following:

"SEC. 425. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person who witnesses or learns of a violation of sections 416(b)(2), 417, 418, 419, 420, 424, or 426 to fail to report the offense to law enforcement officials within 24 hours of witnessing or learning of the violation and thereafter provide full assistance in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the person violating paragraph (a).

"(b) Any person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be sentenced to not less than two years or more than 10 years. If the person who witnesses or learns of the violation is the parent or guardian, or otherwise responsible for the care or supervision of the person under the age of 18 or the incompetent person, such person shall be sentenced to not less than three years or more than 20 years.''.

Who even needs political hyperbole anymore? Possessory offenses are bad enough, but failing to be a narc?

Comrades! All hail Pavlik Morosov, Hero of the Culture War!

(Hey, maybe the legislation is just Congressman Sensenbrenner's way of engaging in satire . . . Gee, d'ya think so? I do so wish this could be comedy.)

posted by Eric on 04.30.05 at 04:41 PM

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