Drug defendant leaps to his death

New York - On Thursday, October 19, a teenaged boy facing a felony drug conviction jumped to his death from the 16th floor of a Manhattan courtroom. A judge had just offered him 3 to 6 years in exchange for a guilty plea. The defendant, Derrick Smith, 19, rejected the plea bargain, and then broke free from officers and jumped out an open window, witnesses said. Smith was arrested Sept. 19 for selling crack cocaine in the East Village, according to his indictment. Derrick cast one last look at his mother before he killed himself.

After the plea offer, he addressed the court. "I'm 19 years old, your honor," Smith said. "That is terrible. That's terrible." As he was led from the courtroom, witnesses said, they heard a commotion. Smith's mother jumped up, saw the open window, and the court officer there standing alone. She was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for shock.

Mother holding child shot by police

Pat Eymer, a mother of three, was seriously wounded when a group of armed officers broke down the door of her trailer home in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Ms. Eymer, whose children, ages 13, four, and four months, witnessed the shooting, was holding her four year-old daughter in her arms when she was shot. Ms. Eymer's 13-year-old daughter passed out after seeing her mother shot. The .45 caliber hollow-point bullet destroyed most of the bone in the woman's right shoulder. Eymer is not expected to re-gain total use of her arm.

No guns or weapons of any kind were found in the home. The raid was based on an unsubstantiated tip from a police informant. Three other adults present were charged with "possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia."

National conference on prisons held

"Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex," a national conference on the rise and destructiveness of the world's largest prison state, was held in September at the University of California at Berkeley. Featured speakers included Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and Ellen Barry of the San Francisco-based Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

The U.S. jail and prison population (federal, state and local) stands at nearly 2 million up from just over 200,000 in 1972.

High school students protest prison growth

Following the Critical Resistance Conference, thousands of San Leandro high school students left their classrooms to protest a growing gap in the growth of state spending on prisons and higher education.

No indictments in Pedro Navarro shooting death

On July 12, Pedro Oregon Navarro, a 22-year-old father of two, was shot to death in the bathroom of his home by at least six Houston, Texas police officers. The officers had entered Navarro's home by kicking in his door without a warrant on the word of an informant. No drugs were found in the home, and autopsy results for drugs were negative.

Officers claimed that Navarro had fired upon them, but ballistics tests showed that officers fired all 30 shots. Twelve of those shots hit Navarro, nine from above and behind him. Of the six officers, five were no-billed by the grand jury, while one was charged with misdemeanor trespass.

Houston Mayor and former US Drug Czar Lee Brown said that he would seek a federal grand jury investigation into Navarro's death.

Travis Morales of the Justice for Pedro Oregon Coalition told the Houston Chronicle, "This gives the green light for cops to go into homes and kill. A trespass charge is not going to stop any police officer."

Concerned about teen drug use? Ask Orrin Hatch

A 66-page booklet called "How Parents Can Help Children Live Marijuana-Free," was published earlier this year by the Salt Lake Education Foundation.

In the forward, Utah Senator Hatch urges parents to "carefully study this book... and look for the warning signs of any children who are using marijuana or drugs of any kind."

Among the "warning signs" of marijuana use, the book lists "excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc."

The booklet was distributed to parents of children in the Salt Lake City school district.

Authorities say drug dog search legal

Caldwell, Idaho - Canyon County Sheriff George Nourse and county attorneys say it's legal to conduct random drug dog searches of vehicles in public and business parking lots. Opponents argue that the plan violates constitutional and privacy rights. Stop illegal drugs, but do it legally, they say.

Having police dogs sniff around cars in business parking lots to search for drugs has some people concerned: Are the parking lots private or public? Is it legal?

Nourse wants people to take a more serious stance against drugs. Many Canyon County residents have a "ho-hum attitude towards drugs," he said. "Nobody is going to win the drug war until public attitude changes and becomes more adamant against drugs," the sheriff said.

Woman says drug search injured unborn baby

Miami, Florida - U.S. authorities falsely imprisoned a pregnant black woman suspected of being a drug courier and then, as part of an internal body search, pressured her to take a laxative that permanently injured her unborn baby, according to a federal lawsuit. Janneral Denson seeks unspecified damages for herself and her son, Jordan Taylor.

Denson, 25, was stopped by customs agents Feb. 14, 1997, when she got off a plane from Jamaica after a visit with her husband. Her bags were searched and no drugs were found, but she was taken in handcuffs to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she was shackled to a bed and examined by doctors. Denson, then 28 weeks pregnant, was told she would not be allowed to leave the hospital until she took doses of a prescription laxative and produced stool samples. She was released Feb. 16, after producing stool samples that did not contain drugs.

Denson gave birth to her son Jordan 12 days after the ordeal by emergency Caesarean. The boy suffers "various defects" as a result of the premature birth, the lawsuit said.

Violent crime nets 27 months for Sherriff's son

Barstow, Florida - Kerin Crow, son of Polk Count Sheriff Lawrence Crow Jr., was sentenced Monday to 27 months in state prison. Crow pleaded no contest. He and his roommate were arrested after a woman, described by police as a Lakeland prostitute, told police the pair presented fake badges and told her they were taking her to a police substation.

She said she was raped several times by the two men. Crow originally was arrested by police on seven charges, including sexual battery and kidnapping. The State Attorney's Office in September dropped those two charges.

Crow has served several years in state prison for violating probation on multiple offenses, including grand theft, petty theft and sale of a controlled substance.

Man recaptured after 28 years to begin life term soon

Charles Edward Garrett, a Dallas man who disappeared for nearly three decades after a 1970 heroin possession conviction, has started serving his life sentence.

Mr. Garrett received an outpouring of support from people who believe the punishment does not fit the crime. Radio talk shows have been flooded with calls from listeners saying that Mr. Garrett, 56, has been rehabilitated and that a prison term is a waste of time and money.

A jury convicted Mr. Garrett of heroin possession in February 1970. Police had found him with 23 capsules in a drug-house raid in November 1968. While the jury was deliberating his sentence, Mr. Garrett, free on bond, left the courtroom and did not return.

California settles suit over inmate death

California Department of Corrections settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Preston Tate, an inmate fatally shot by Corcoran State Prison guards in 1994. Both sides agreed to an $825,000 award for the slaying of Tate.

Tate's death caused media and legislative scrutiny into prisoner abuse at Corcoran and other penitentiaries.

From 1988 until late 1994 Corcoran guards killed seven inmates and wounded about 40.

It pays to be a prison guard

California - Gov. Pete Wilson and Don Novey, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association recently conspired to push through a one-year, 12% pay raise for Novey's union. Meanwhile, thousands of other state workers have not had any raises for the past 4 years.

The union has been the subject of explosive legislative hearings into serious allegations. It is alleged that guards at Corcoran State Prison and Pelican Bay have beaten and arranged rapes of inmates, set up gladiator-style fights, shot and killed inmates, and imposed a code of silence to impede investigating authorities. Wilson's actions send a message of approval to the continuation of these incidents.

While prison guards wallow in hefty raises and lucrative perks, the state's schools are crumbling into disrepair, sometimes in the shadows of shiny new prisons.

Record number of marijuana arrests in 1997

Washington D.C. - The total number of marijuana arrests was higher in 1997 than in any other year in U.S. history, according to an FBI report released on November 22. There were 695,201 marijuana arrests last year, 87% of which were for possession.

McCollum wins another term

Last issue we reported on Al Krulick, candidate for the US Congress for the 8th district, Orlando, Florida.

Krulick was running against Bill McCollum, a vicious drug warrior. McCollum sponsored legislation which would have saddled 14-year-old children with minimum mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug law violations­­time they would serve in adult prisons. Thankfully this bill did not pass, but McCollum vows to carry it into the 106th Congress.

Mr. Krulick did not defeat Mr. McCollum in the November elections.

If you would like to contact Al before the next election:

Al Krulick for Congress
Florida 8th Congressional District
PO Box 540316
Orlando, FL 32854