Bush Signs RAVE Act
This week, President Bush signed the well-supported but highly controversial Amber Alert, a far-reaching child protection legislation carrying a number of contentious provisions.
"After months and months of trying, we've finally gotten a green light for a national AMBER Alert program," says Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). "The problem has never been winning enough support to pass it. The problem has been that our bill has garnered such strong support that it has been abused as a sweetener for highly controversial add-ons."
One such abusive provision, the RAVE Act, was tacked on to the legislation at the final minute. Last year Drug Policy Alliance and its supporters managed to squash the bill that would make it easier to arrest event holders for the drug offenses of their patrons, however, the determined Senator Biden (D-DE) was able to sneak the harmful legislation through Congress on the back of the otherwise unrelated Amber Alert.
The next year will be crucial for the fight against the RAVE Act. As the law comes into play, Drug Policy Alliance will continue to get the word out about the dangerous legislation, create guidelines for business owners to help them deal with the law's complications, and start the fight for repeal/reform.
Drug Policy Alliance is not alone in its misgivings. Some Democrats, who support a stand-alone version of the Amber Alert bill passed by the Senate, argued that provisions in the bill reducing federal judges' discretion in sentencing criminals should have been debated on the floor. The provisions limit judicial discretion in a broad range of federal cases; in protest, federal judges and legal scholars, including some Republicans, are calling it an assault on judicial independence. Some judges have even threatened to resign. They argue that the legislation further erodes the discretion and authority of trial judges and that such discretion is necessary in certain cases, such as those involving minor participants in the drug trade and girlfriends or spouses of drug sellers.
Parts of the loaded legislation also take the country in the opposite direction to recent reforms in some states, where strict sentencing laws have been eased. Many states have eliminated harsh three-strikes laws and mandatory minimum sentences to reduce prison numbers as they struggle to balance their budgets.
Despite complaints about restrictions and supplementary provisions, House and Senate Democrats voted for the Amber Alert bill. The House passed the bill 400-25 and the Senate approved in on a 98-0 vote.
With your support, we will take on Attorney General John Ashcroft and the DEA every time they use the RAVE Act to try to shut down electronic dance events, raves, rock and hip hop concerts, hemp festivals, circuit parties, and other events. We will organize thousands of people to oppose this new government intrusion. We will launch an aggressive and relentless lobbying campaign to repeal the RAVE Act.
Take action at the Drug Policy Alliance Web site.