CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, January 22, 2009

'The Disconnect Between the Streets and the Business Suites'

(Baltimore, MD) Juvenile offenders brought from Baltimore detention centers, along with Baltimore PD representatives, school officials, social workers, and leaders from grass-roots organizations, participated in a panel discussion regarding street crime. The five teens, recognizing the mistakes they had made, talked about their intentions to stay on the right path in spite of the violence in their neighborhoods. "But asked whether they felt safe in their neighborhoods, their answers showed just how tenuous staying on the right path can be.
'For me, safe or not safe, it doesn't matter because things can go bad in a second,' said one of the teens, who added that he once made $850 a week on the streets slinging drugs. 'But if I've got [a gun], I'm the man and you can't say nothing to me. If I don't have a [gun], I'll walk around with a knife.' At one point, the panel moderator asked the teens whether any of their family or friends had been killed. 'This year?' one asked...

The teens who spoke to the crowd talked about the lure of the streets and how important the money they earned through criminal activity was to their families. They said they didn't want to become involved in violence, but some said factors in their neighborhoods and the need to be respected were difficult to overcome.
Full story from [Michele Berry]

January 22, 2009 in Drugs, Guns, Juveniles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Deep cover: New girl at Millington school partied, made friends -- and sought to score drugs

The new student at Millington Central High School was freaking out in study hall.

She'd just been talking to a boy about scoring some drugs one late September day when she turned to get her purse and couldn't find her cell phone inside.

The slight, pretty girl with dark blonde hair and a darker secret went nuts.

She jumped up and dumped the purse out onto the table, demanding, "Who took my cell phone!?"

The phone's loss itself was of no importance.

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January 16, 2009 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dealing With Addiction From The Judge's Bench

Npr_logo As News & Notes takes a month-long look at addiction, we get insight from our regular contributor, Judge Lynn Toler of TV's Divorce Court.

She joins Farai Chideya to discuss her days as a municipal court judge in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where she saw many cases related to drug addiction.

Listen to "Dealing With Addiction From The Judge's Bench"

January 6, 2009 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Girding for new marijuana law, state offers enforcement tips

Police officers should issue tickets, similar to a building code citation, to anyone possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, under an advisory released by the state yesterday recommending ways to manage the law decriminalizing possession of the drug.

The law is effective Jan 2.

Violators may appeal the citation - a civil infraction - in court within 21 days or pay the $100 fine set by the statute. Municipalities would be responsible for collecting the fines, according to the recommendations.

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December 31, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Marijuana Law Comes With Challenges

Last month, voters approved a statewide measure decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Now, wary authorities say, comes the hard part. They are scrambling to set up a new system of civil penalties before Jan. 2, when the change becomes law. From then on, anyone caught with an ounce or less of marijuana will owe a $100 civil fine instead of ending up with an arrest record and possibly facing jail time.

It sounds simple, but David Capeless, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, said the new policy presented a thicket of questions and complications.

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December 19, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

15 officers caught in FBI drug sting

"I ain't always been in law enforcement," a Harvey cop allegedly bragged to the drug dealer whose business he was paid to protect. "I sold a lot of weight at a young age, I just never got caught."

His luck ran out Tuesday, though, as federal authorities unsealed charges against the Harvey police officer and 14 other law-enforcement officers.

The drug dealer was an undercover FBI agent who secretly recorded his conversations. Two civilians were also charged.

The FBI said it launched the yearlong sting after widespread reports from informants and other cops that law-enforcement officers in southern Cook County were engaging in robbery, extortion and distribution of narcotics and weapons.

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December 3, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cops Say Legalizing Drugs Can Boost Economy by Billions

This Tuesday, December 2, a group of law enforcers who fought on the front lines of the “war on drugs” and witnessed its failures will commemorate the 75th anniversary of alcohol prohibition’s repeal by calling for drug legalization. The cops, judges and prosecutors will release a report detailing how many billions of dollars can be used to boost the ailing economy when drug prohibition is ended.

“America’s leaders had the good sense to realize that we couldn’t afford to keep enforcing the ineffective prohibition of alcohol during the Great Depression,” said Terry Nelson, a 30-year veteran federal agent and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Now, cops fighting on the front lines of today’s ‘war on drugs’ are working to make our streets safer and help solve our economic crisis by teaching lawmakers a lesson from history about the failure of prohibition. We can do it again.”

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December 2, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Treatment programs key to winning war on drugs

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office, commissioned by Sen. Joe Biden, has come to an unsurprising conclusion: After more than $6 billion spent, the controversial drug control operation known as Plan Colombia has failed by large margins to meet its targets.

The goal had been to cut cocaine production in Colombia by 50 percent from 2000 to 2006 through eradication of coca crops and training of anti-narcotics police and military personnel. In fact, cocaine production in Colombia rose 4 percent during that period, the GAO found. With increases in Peru and Bolivia, production of cocaine in South America increased by 12 percent during that period. In 1999 it cost $142 to buy a gram of cocaine on the street in the United States, according to inflation-adjusted figures from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. By 2006 the price had fallen to $94 per gram.

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December 1, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 28, 2008

U.S. war on drugs has failed, report says

The United States' war on drugs has failed and will continue to do so as long as it emphasizes law enforcement and neglects the problem of consumption, a Washington think tank says in a report co-chaired by a former president of Mexico.

The former president, Ernesto Zedillo, in an interview, called for a major rethinking of U.S. policy, which he said has been "asymmetrical" in demanding that countries such as Mexico stanch the flow of drugs northward, without successful efforts to stop the flow of guns south. In addition to disrupting drug-smuggling routes, eradicating crops and prosecuting dealers, the U.S. must confront the public health issue that large-scale consumption poses, he said.

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November 28, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Police prepare for changes in marijuana possession laws

Local law enforcement officials are still in a haze about Question 2 as it winds its way through the bureaucratic process.

There are a number of logistical issues that stand between the ballot initiative that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and the enforcement of the new policy throughout the commonwealth. In the meantime, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is still a criminal offense, even though some districts are suspending their pursuit of such cases.

Wareham police aren’t changing their approach to criminal possession yet.

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November 27, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Borderless Drug Wars

The drug violence that has left nearly 4,000 people dead this year in Mexico is spreading deep into the United States, leaving a trail of slayings, kidnappings and other crimes in at least 195 cities as far afield as Atlanta, Boston, Seattle and Honolulu, according to federal authorities.

The involvement of the top four Mexican drug-trafficking organizations in distribution and money-laundering on U.S. soil has brought a war once dismissed as a foreign affair to the doorstep of local communities.

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November 20, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Craigslist Increasingly Used to Sell Drugs

Drug dealing on craigslist has become so rampant that the city's special narcotics prosecutor has asked the online trading post to curb the ads, the Daily News has learned.

Bridget Brennan's undercover investigators have bought drugs offered on craigslist personals from dealers ranging from a Citigroup banker to an Ivy Leaguer to a violent felon using a halfway house computer. In the past four years, her office has prosecuted dozens of dealers.

"Ski lift tickets are here for sale ... Tina Turner tickets ... best seats around!" Offers like these appear virtually every day on craigslist, and they are thinly veiled ads posted by people hawking cocaine (ski) or crystal meth (cristina or tina).

"Despite devoting considerable resources to prosecuting these cases, drug dealing is still thriving on craigslist," Brennan wrote craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster. Brennan said she was inspired to act by a recent agreement between craigslist and attorneys general from 40 states to curb prostitution ads.

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November 17, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Drugs, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Majority agrees that some users unduly punished

The district attorney and the head of the group that pushed Massachusetts voters to overwhelmingly back a huge reduction in the penalty for marijuana possession don’t agree on a lot of things.

One thing on which they do agree: Voters bought the argument that kids and adults caught with marijuana are unfairly burdened under the present law, which can saddle them with a criminal record for the rest of their lives.

Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating said that perception is, in fact, a myth, no matter what voters believed. Most first-time offenders, he said, have their cases dismissed before arraignment.

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November 10, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stem cell, medical marijuana props approved

Michigan voters easily approved a law Tuesday to allow the seriously ill to smoke marijuana, while a proposal to ease restrictions on stem cell research research won by a tighter margin.

Michigan became the 13th state -- and first in the Midwest -- to legalize medical marijuana. While backers said it would help as many as 50,000 residents ease the pain of cancer, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and other illnesses, Proposal 1 drew widespread opposition from law enforcement, business groups and health organizations.

Dianne Byrum, spokeswoman for Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care which championed the proposal, said the opposition ads didn't work.

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November 6, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

False results put drug tests under microscope

For Nadine Artemis and Ron Obadia, August began with plans for a family vacation in Minnesota. The vacation ended with the two Canadian citizens being led through Toronto's airport in handcuffs, locked up and separated from their baby.

"We were dumbfounded," Artemis says. Police told them they could be facing years in prison for exporting narcotics, because 2.5 pounds of material found in their carry-on bag tested positive for hashish. "All we knew was that we didn't have drugs."

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November 5, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

DAs fight bid to ease penalty for marijuana

As a student at Stonehill College, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley found himself in a room with guys passing around a bong. "When it came to me, I inhaled so hard that it burned my lungs," he says. "I don't want to sound Clintonesque; I inhaled, but I couldn't handle it."

Gerry Leone, Middlesex district attorney, also admits to smoking pot. "It was years ago, when I was a young man," he said. "I tried it once, and it wasn't something I was ever into."

Michael O'Keefe, district attorney for the Cape and Islands, would only hint at his past: "Like a lot of people in my generation, we did a lot of things that were unwise, unhealthy, and illegal," he says.

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October 21, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Drug Courts Offer Many Another Chance

15drug_600It was not your usual courtroom scene. For one thing, the judge choked up as he described one woman’s struggle with opiate addiction after her arrest for forging prescriptions.

Over the last three years, she had repeatedly missed court-ordered therapy and hearings, and the judge, J. Wesley Saint Clair of the Drug Diversion Court, at first meted out mild punishments, like community service. But last winter, pushed past his forgiving limit, he jailed her briefly twice. The threat of more jail did the trick.

Now she was graduating — along with 23 other addicts who entered drug court instead of prison. Prosecutors and public defenders applauded when she was handed her certificate; a policewoman hugged her, and a child shouted triumphantly, “Yeah, Mamma!”

In Seattle, as in drug courts across the country, the stern face of criminal justice is being redrawn, and emotions are often on the surface. Experts say drug courts have been the country’s fastest-spreading innovation in criminal justice, giving arrested addicts a chance to avoid prison by agreeing to stringent oversight and addiction treatment. Recent studies show drug courts are one of the few initiatives that reduce recidivism — on average by 8 percent to 10 percent nationally and as high as 26 percent in New York State — and save taxpayer money.

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October 15, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Drugs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cincinnati: Homicides ahead of '07 pace Drug Shortage to Blame

Cincinnati has been a violent place lately.

In the last week, there have been five homicides - increasing the number this year to 58, compared to 55 homicides at this time last year. On Sept. 29 and Sept. 30 alone, there were 15 shootings.

The increase of gun violence has gotten the attention of police, judges and Mayor Mark Mallory.

So why more violence? Why now?

Police say cutting the supply of illegal drugs may be the cause locally.

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October 6, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

State rule clarifies 60-day supply of medical marijuana

A new rule determining how much pot constitutes a 60-day supply for medical-marijuana users was finalized on Thursday, a decade after Washington voters passed an initiative legalizing marijuana for people suffering from terminal and debilitating illnesses.

The new state rule, which goes into effect Nov. 2, sets the supply limit at 24 ounces of usable marijuana plus 15 plants. Those who need more marijuana to manage their pain will have to prove they need it — though how they would do that remains unclear.

While the new, 60-day-supply rule is meant to clarify the law and help police officers determine legitimate amounts, medical-marijuana advocates say the amounts are unreasonable — especially the 15-plant limit — and put patients at risk of criminal prosecution.

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October 4, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Challenges of Sentencing Young Drug Offenders

19chance190Justice Thomas Farber’s dilemma in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday played itself out like a dramatic monologue.

How much misery was appropriate to inflict on a promising 19-year-old, who himself had inflicted misery on society by dealing drugs, the judge asked himself out loud.

“It’s almost an impossible calculus,” said Justice Farber, who sits in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

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September 19, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Drugs, Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)