Obama's Escalated Drug War, Drug Testing for Public Benefits, and Corrupt Cops: When Will Hypocrisy Lead to Reform?

The war on drugs is escalating. Obama is moving towards ending medical marijuana in California, shutting down dispensaries more aggressively than even George Bush did. Additionally, three dozen states have proposed measures to drug test recipients of public benefits  like welfare, food stamps, and public housing. In several states, including Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, and Florida, the laws have already passed. To the surprise of many, Florida's preliminary testing actually proved welfare recipients use drugs at rates lower than the general population. But the biggest problem with these laws in not the inefficiency, or even the stigma embedded in them. It is their inability to offer treatment for disease as an alternative to what could easily become homelessness and starvation 

And despite draconian drug laws, the hypocrisy of those who enforce them is rampant.  Obama has admitted to smoking weed and using Cocaine, and Sarah Palin recently came under fire for similar alleged drug use. Still, politicians are not the only ones not practicing what they preach.  

This week alone, the Drug War Chronicle reported on eleven law enforcers (former and current police officers, jail/prison guards) arrested for crimes ranging from engaging in sex acts with a confidential informant to drug trafficking and corruption.  

According to the Drug War Chronicle

In Helena, Arkansas, five Helena-West Helena police officers were arrested Tuesday as part of a major drug trafficking crackdown that also involved public corruption. More than 800 federal and local police took part in mass arrests that targeted 70 people on federal charges. 

...In Caruthersville, Missouri, the Caruthersville police chief and an officer were arrested October 6 and charged with forgery and theft. Chief Chris Riggs and Officer Marcus Hopkins each face multiple counts of forgery, while Riggs also faces one count of theft. Their exact misdeeds have not been revealed, but the investigation was conducted by the Missouri Highway Patrol Drugs and Crime Division. Both men are free on $200,000 bonds. Riggs remains police chief.(emphasis added)

In Bayou La Batre, Alabama, a former Bayou La Batre police officer was arrested October 7 after a months-long investigation into missing drug money by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. Former officer Jason Edwards had been in charge of confiscated drug money when some turned up missing in March. He resigned over the summer. At last report, Edwards was out on bail pending trial.

In St. Martinsville, Louisiana, a St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office jail guard was arrested October 5 for allegedly smuggling contraband into the St. Martin Parish Correctional II Facility. Officer Freddie Abraham, 20, is charged with malfeasance in office, criminal conspiracy, attempted introduction of contraband in penal institutions, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He was last reported in jail trying to make a $30,000 bond.

In Blacksburg, South Carolina, a former Cherokee County sheriff's department narcotics officer was arrested October 5for engaging in sex acts with a confidential informant who had pending charges. Albert Phillips, 41, is charged with misconduct in office for the acts, which took place between December 2008 and January 2009. He resigned in January 2009.

In Petaluma, California, a guard at San Quentin state prison was arrested October 6 for selling drugs at the prison and accepting bribes. Robert Alioto, 48, was booked on suspicion of requesting or receiving a bribe, possession of marijuana for sale, sales or transportation of marijuana, conspiracy and selling drugs to a person in custody. Officials had few details. Alioto is free on $50,000 bail.(emphasis added)

Police corruption and drug dealing does not, of course, end there.  In September, TSA agents and New York police officers were busted for participating in a huge Oxycodone drug smuggling ring.  One could not even begin to estimate how much corruption goes unreported.  But the hypocrisy surrounding elected officials and law enforcement is not only a reason to be angry, but a reason to demand reform.  America has 5 percent of the world's population, and 25 percent of prisoners.  Unfortunately, many of them are victims themselves - of poverty, addiction, and countless other circumstances prison does not often heal, but escalates. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at October 12, 2011, 10:48am

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