In the News

"Not part of my sentence"

A 38-year-old Texas woman claims she was raped repeatedly by two employees of a private prisoner transport company while being moved between facilities, according to the Houston Chronicle. The company, TransCor America, is owned by Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison firm, based in Nashville, Tennessee.
The unidentified woman was on her way to serve the remainder of a 45-day sentence for simple theft. She said the assault occurred while she and several other prisoners were on a six-day trip through several Texas cities before arriving at the Harris County Jail in Houston where she immediately asked jailers to take her to the hospital. She claims the other prisoners witnessed the attacks but were threatened when they tried to stop the guards.

Smoke a joint; lose your car

Forfeiture took another step toward legal theft in Orange County, Florida. Officials there have proposed that a single marijuana cigarette could result in the forfeiture of the owner's automobile to the state.

Virginia Governor will pay snitches

Declaring the federal war on drugs a failure, Virginia's Governor Jim Gilmore has paved the way for more low-level drug defendants to serve long prison sentences. The Substance Abuse Reduction Effort (SABRE) Project dramatically reduces the amount of drugs necessary to qualify as a drug "kingpin". Any person offering information that results in an arrest and conviction can receive as much as $10,000 cash.

Drug Squad guns downs grandfather

Mario Paz, a 63-year-old grandfather of fourteen, and his wife were in their El Monte, California home when twenty armed officers shot the locks off their doors during a no-knock drug raid in August. Once inside, the officers used stun grenades to create a distraction.
In the presence of his wife, Paz was shot twice in the back and killed as he kneeled on the floor of the couple's bedroom. Paz had no criminal record, nor was he a suspect in the investigation.

CASA study shows failure of prohibition

The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has released a recent survey that illustrates the failure of our current drug policy. Nearly nine times as many teens said that marijuana is easier to obtain than beer, a legal, regulated drug.

Giuliani targets the poor

New York City plans to scrutinize welfare recipients' medical records for evidence of drug use, mandating treatment for continued benefits. City officials said the record checks are needed because the city's current drug screening system is finding "unrealistically low substance abuse rates".

Prison guard's union still a force in California

The California Correctional Peace Officer Association (CCPOA) is continuing its efforts to control criminal justice policy in that state. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Union has contributed at least $2 million to Governor Gray Davis, has lobbied intensely to kill any legislative bills to reform prison policy, and hosted a $3000 dollar a head fundraising golf tournament for the governor. In the last 15 years, the California prison population has increased over 400%, due in no small part to the union efforts.

Build it, and they will come

Both Kern and Orange Counties in California are considering shipping inmates from their overcrowded jails to a new 2300-bed prison sitting empty in the Mojave Desert.
The prison was built on speculation by Corrections Corp. of America, the nation largest private prison company, and has been a subject of bitter dispute in California politics. The powerful prison guard union, CCPOA, has lobbied intensely to keep private prisons out of California.

Ailing grandmother busted for pot

Delphia Toney of Hazel Green, Wisconsin, is facing criminal charges of marijuana possession. Toney has recently undergone a series of surgeries on her stomach and bowels. "The doctors wouldn't give me any pain pills because of my stomach, and I just couldn't stand the pain any longer," she told the Wisconsin State Journal. "I just wanted it to help my pain."
"I am obligated to enforce the law against everybody - the 63 year old as well as the 18 year old," said Grant County District Attorney Emil Everix.

Daughter regrets turning in mom

An Ohio eighth-grader, Kimberly Martin, who turned her mother's crack pipe into a school counselor, now wishes she hadn't. "I feel like it's my fault," the 15-year-old was reported saying after her mother, Linda Sue Martin, pleaded no contest to three felonies, including manufacturing crack cocaine. Kimberly's mother is going to prison.
"If I knew it was going to get her in trouble, I wouldn't have done what I did. I just wanted her to get help," Kimberly said. "I can't go without my mom for two years. No girl should. It isn't right. It isn't what I wanted. She's a good mom."
Kimberly joins the over 2.5 million children in America with one or both parents in prison on drug charges.

Snitching for dollars

Miami International Airport employees will be offered rewards of up to $1000 for tips leading to the arrest of their colleagues.
"We want to encourage airport employees to report any tips they have," said Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, proudly showing off the yellow reward posters to reporters from The Miami Herald.

Unarmed man shot during marijuana sting

A 53-year-old Houston man, whose name has not been released, was shot dead by drug agents during a joint DEA/Houston Police undercover marijuana operation.
After the agents exchanged cash for 15 pounds of marijuana, other officers moved in and ordered the men to put their hands up. One man complied, but as the other reached for his fannypack, agents opened fire, according to The Houston Chronicle. There was no gun in the fannypack.

Evicting mothers and children

A Madison, Wisconsin mother with a baby in her arms had to plead with city officials to keep the apartment she had paid to rent. The city's decision to evict six women and 11 children from an alleged "drug house'' is the latest example of zero tolerance. Although there is no evidence that these women or their young children were involved in drug trafficking, they are being forced from their apartments under a court order. Other tenants in the building were allegedly selling drugs.

Eyes in the sky

A camera-laden robot airplane dubbed the GNAT is keeping an eye on the Southwest border, a favorite pathway for drug and immigrant smugglers from Mexico.
"We're evaluating it to see if it works," said Walter Harwell, Border Patrol agent. "We can't cover the area with a few dozen cameras. We would need thousands of cameras."
The unmanned aircraft cost taxpayers $1.4 million each. One of the drone's cameras can read a license plate from miles away.

Ex-cops admit to frame-ups

Two former Manatee County Florida sheriff's officers have admitted that they and other members of the department's elite narcotics unit planted evidence and framed suspects, allege federal officials.
Prosecutors say agents of the county's drug squad, the Delta Task Force, planted crack cocaine on a Bradenton woman who later was convicted of state felony charges for possession of those drugs.

Protecting the People?

According to the FBI's report of crime statistics for 1998, the number of people arrested for marijuana offenses last year, 682,885, exceeded all those arrested for violent crimes nationwide, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault combined.