President Obama Says Marijuana Less Dangerous Than Alcohol, Shows Support For Legalization


Just as he did on same-sex marriage, President Obama has “evolved” on the criminality of marijuana. Well, to be fair, it’s entirely possible the president has always held his current opinion on pot, but you’d be hard-pressed to believe that is the case until recently.

• • •

Prison-Industrial Complex Watch: 1.5 Million Floridians Banned From Voting

Sometimes racism is overt and sometimes it’s baked into the system in ways people don’t recognize. We know the judicial system in America discriminates against minorities, especially young black males. When states like Florida take away a person’s ability to vote because he or she was incarcerated, it reinforces the this two-tier justice system. If blacks are more likely to be locked up (even when they commit a particular crime at the same rate as whites), the black community faces greater voter disenfranchisement, both during and after incarceration.

• • •

Prison-Industrial Complex Watch: Amnesty For Non-Violent Drug Offenders?

Last month Attorney General Eric Holder declared “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason.” For many, this was a welcome, although limited change of policy. To get around existing mandatory minimum laws, Holder instructed federal prosecutors to use discretion for non-violent drug offenders. By not listing the quantities of drugs, prosecutors can’t avoid the trigger mechanisms in mandatory minimum sentencing rules. This is definitely a good first step, but we need all mandatory minimum laws repealed. We should not remove the ability of a judge and jury to rule on the merits of each case.

• • •

Prison-Industrial Complex Watch: End Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Non-Violent Drug Offenses

It’s time for Americans to pay attention to what we are doing to so many non-violent drug offenders. We put them in jail, take away their right to vote when they get out, in many cases for minor offenses, that probably shouldn’t be illegal in the first place. Americans need to see the forest for the trees when it comes to U.S. drug laws. Why is it so hard to change failed policy?

• • •

Prison-Industrial Complex: The Magic Thinking Of America’s ‘Tough On Crime’ Reactionary Types

I recently participated in a debate on Facebook about criminals and American incarceration. The debate sprang from an article about a repeat offender, committing yet another robbery only weeks after release from a nine-year sentence. My takeaway from this conversation is that America’s prison-industrial complex will not change as long as most Americans are passive on this issue. And that’s because there are a fair number of people in this country who have a philosophy that one should die for the crimes he or she commits, particularly if a repeat offender. In their minds, the only requirement that need be met for a death sentence is their sole judgement that this human being no longer deserves to live, and will never be a useful member of society.

• • •

Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Major Curtailment Of ‘Mandatory Minimum’ Sentences For Non-Violent Drug Offenses

In episode 4 of Left Call Radio, I spoke about America’s “prison-industrial complex” and how mandatory minimum sentences take discretion away form judges and juries. Mandatory minimum sentences do not make us safer. What these unnecessary and harsh sentences do is ruin the lives of people who commit low-level, non-violent drug offenses, while the rest of us can revel in our own righteous indignation. — Hey, I wouldn’t have committed that crime. So what do I care?

• • •