To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Drugs and Money OK, Violence and Death Not

A very good write-up in the Washington Post on a huge, local drug case that ended very poorly for the government. A quick run-down on the particulars of the case.
A wiretap on the cellphone of a reputed drug kingpin led police to a stash house where they found almost 100 kilos of cocaine and nearly $1 million. A force of more than 100 federal and local agents swept up nearly a dozen suspects in raids across the region.

[ellipsis]

The jurors, after deliberating for weeks, deadlocked earlier this year on many charges against alleged kingpin Antoine Jones, including the most serious: conspiracy. And on more than a dozen other counts, the jury came back with verdicts of not guilty. The three men on trial with him, charged with conspiracy as well, fared even better.

Kevin L. Holland and Adrian Jackson were acquitted of all charges; Michael A. Huggins was acquitted of all but one lesser charge, and that eventually was dismissed by the government.

[ellipsis]

Jones, who has drug convictions in the District and Virginia, lives in Waldorf and owned a nightclub in Northeast Washington called Levels. The now-closed club, prosecutors argued, was the hub of the conspiracy, providing a place to launder drug proceeds and a pretense for all the coded telephone talk of "tickets" and "music" -- allegedly terms for drugs.
The feds also had documented evidence from a GPS transmitter on Jones's jeep, as well as pictures taken at the stash house, that numerous trips to the stash house were made with that particular vehicle. Where this case gets interesting -- and I should add that my only legal training is writing this while watching Boston Legal and putting the LSATS off a record 3 times in one year -- is in the analysis of the jury's decision. The defendants were accused of running a massive drug operation with no violence surrounding them. There in lies the probable reason (and the Post article spells this out nicely) that the defendants were acquitted. Probable I say; but in reality it was most likely just one of many things that led the jury to acquit. That being said, let me go with that supposition. Doesn't that prove the obvious - that when it comes down to do it, what the public really wants (when they are put in a position to think about it) is action on the violence and coercion that follows the illicit drug trade, rather than the drugs and addiction (and all that goes with it) that follows those drugs?

The question becomes, why is it so hard to explain to people that the majority of the crime and violence stems from the illegal nature of the drugs, rather than the drugs themselves? The answer I think, isn't that your average American is an idiot, rather they just don't care. It isn't on their radar. Unfortunately we find those average Americans in places where the electoral power lies-like middle America and those dreaded suburbs. My guess -- having spent most of my short life in those places -- is that if you polled moms and dads in the local mall about problems facing their children they would respond as if they were reading from a nightly news script. Addiction from pills and marijuana. Some guy grabbing their kid from the parking lot..and etc. Not too many would talk about the thousands of young, black men gunned down in cities, or the unlucky 7 year old who catches a stray bullet. Or the fact that our inner cities look like a war zone, consistently getting worse and worse over the years, practically dooming generations of Americans to a life of poverty and crime. The problems that arise from prohibition are not percieved as personal issues for most voting Americans, and so then, how do you convince them that it is a serious problem that we are making much worse? Who knows....

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