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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 12:15 AM
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The Tragedy of Victimless Crimes in the United States
Whenever the offence inspires less horror than the punishment, the rigor of penal law is obliged to give way to the common feelings of mankind Edward Gibbon from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Why is it that the country that likes to call itself The Land of the Free has the highest incarceration rate in the world? Is that Orwellian or what?

International statistics from 2006 show that the United States has an incarceration rate of 738 per 100,000 population, the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Approximately 2.3 million persons are incarcerated in the United States as of October 2006, which is a far higher number, by almost a million, than any other nation in the world, accounting for about one quarter of the worlds incarcerated population. Here is a graphic representation of those statistics:

Put another way, our incarceration rate is more than five times that of Europe, Canada, Australia, or Japan.

A country with such high incarceration rates ought to be ashamed of itself. Instead, our politicians spew out gratuitous flattery to the American people without ever mentioning our astronomical incarceration rate. If the American people are so wonderful, as these politicians imply, then our highly disproportionate incarceration rate must be caused by tyrannical government policies. Our elected leaders ought to give that some thought, and do something about it, rather than spend so much time spewing out mindless platitudes.

Victimless Crimes

A victimless crime is a crime that has no victim, with the possible exception of the perpetrator of the crime. Granted there can be honest disagreement over what constitutes a victimless crime. In the United States, some of the most clear cut cases of victimless crimes are recreational, religious, and psychologically therapeutic drug use, gambling, homosexuality, transvestism, suicide and assisted suicide.

It has been estimated that in the United States today, there are approximately 750 thousand individuals incarcerated for victimless crimes, as well as 3 million on parole or probation. Approximately 4 million are arrested each year for victimless crimes.

The incarceration rate for victimless crimes comes to only about one third of the total incarceration rate in our country. But the toxic effects are not confined to them. The hundreds of thousands of individuals incarcerated for victimless crimes have helped to fuel a private, for-profit prison industry, which has successfully lobbied for more frequent and longer prison sentences for all crimes.

Drug possession
Of the total U.S. prison population in 2004, more than one quarter, 530,000, were imprisoned for drug offenses, and almost a tenth of these were for marijuana only. Many of those were for mere possession, rather than manufacturing or selling. For example, of 700,000 marijuana arrests in 1997, 87% were for mere possession, and 41% of those incarcerated for a marijuana offense are incarcerated for possession only. Arrests for marijuana possession in 2004 were more numerous than arrests for all violent crimes combined. Our extremely high incarceration rate is at least partially explained by the fact that most non-violent first time offenders guilty of drug possession today in the United States get a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years with no parole, or 10 years with no parole if a large quantity of drugs is involved.

Here is one example of how government intrudes on the lives of innocent people:

US Army veteran Steven Tuck was lying in a Canadian hospital bed. He fled to Canada after his plants were raided in California by DEA agents. He smoked marijuana to alleviate chronic pain from a 1987 parachuting accident.

Canadian authorities arrested him on his gurney, drove him to the border, and delivered him to US agents, and he then spent five days in jail all with a catheter still attached to his penis. He was offered no medical treatment during his stay in the hospital, and his lawyer, Doug Hiatt, said, This is totally inhumane. Hes been tortured for days for no reason.

Possession of kiddie porn
Clearly it is proper for the state to prosecute child abuse, including the use of children in pornography. However, criminalizing the mere possession of computerized images of child pornography, when there is no evidence that they were obtained through purchase or any involvement in the kiddie porn industry, is highly susceptible to abuse.

I know someone who submitted a computer to a computer repair shop, to check it for damages following a fire. Someone at the company called the police to report kiddie porn on his computer after it was in the companys possession for seven months. I cant describe what hell my friend went through. Before I was aware of that episode I had submitted my computer to the same company, and when it was returned to me it contained kiddie porn. I was fortunate that I wasnt arrested for that, as my friend was.

Bob Chatelle, commenting upon the proliferation of kiddie porn possession laws in our country, notes that There'd never been that much child pornography to begin with, since there aren't many pedophiles around to create demand. Able to garner only three convictions in 1983, Chatelle explains how the feds attempted to improve their record:

New tactics were needed in the government's war against filth such as sting operations. Federal agents targeted law-abiding citizens and tried their damnedest to induce them to buy child pornography They identified potential victims in a number of ways, such as by seizing the records of adult book stores and publishing houses to find out who purchased legal materials The prospective victims were sent mailings barraged with offers to buy all sorts of books and magazines without being warned that any of the material might be illegal. Whenever one of these unfortunate dupes took the bait, of course, they were promptly arrested. Their homes were searched; their property was seized; their reputations were destroyed. They lost their careers, family, and friends. At least four committed suicide

Chatelle concludes his article by explaining how unnecessary these laws are:

The sad thing is that child-pornography laws are not only unconstitutional, they're also totally unnecessary. There is no First Amendment right to commit a crime. A crime does not cease to be a crime just because someone photographs it. Child abuse is a crime and should be prosecuted. Using someone's image for commercial purposes without their permission (which children cannot legally give) is a crime and should be prosecuted But the people who pass laws against child pornography have no interest in preventing or punishing child abuse or any other crime. They are interested solely in advancing their own power and their own careers.

Practicing Islam
Some might argue that we have no law against practicing Islam in our country. But during the Bush administration we arrested and incarcerated Muslims by the thousands or tens of thousands, while allowing them no way to contest their arrests. Therefore, I think its fair to say that in many cases the distinction between the legality and illegality of practicing Islam is lost for all practical purposes.

Stephen Grey, Amnesty Internationals Award-Winning Journalist for Excellence in Human Rights Reporting, in his book Ghost Plane, meticulously documents the illegal and horrendous system of torture and other human rights abuses that George Bush perpetrated upon the world as part of his so-called War on Terror. Here are excerpts of the U.S. torture program from the introduction to Greys book:

The modern world of prisons run by the United States and its allies in the war on terror is far less extensive (than the Soviet gulags under Stalin). Its inmates number thousands not millions. And yet there are eerie parallels between what the Soviet Union created and what we, in the West, are now constructing How much more than surreal, more apart from normal existence, was the network of prisons run after 9/11 by the United States and its allies? How much easier too was the denial and the double-think when those who disappeared into the modern gulag were, being mainly swarthy skinned Arabs with a different culture, so different from most of us in the West? How much more reassuring were the words from our politicians that all was well?

Reasons why we should abolish the criminalization of victimless acts

The direct destruction of lives
The clearest and most obvious reason for taking victimless crimes off the books is the hundreds of thousands of lives they destroy directly. Glen Greenwald puts it succinctly:

For us to collectively decide that the consensual, adult use or sale of intoxicants will be criminalized, means we are agreeing that hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans will experience life-destroying calamity. These POWs will be ripped from their communities -- and frequently from their children -- for years, decades and for life, pursuant to mandatory sentencing schemes as Draconian as those in any dictatorship

Instead of being with their families, these citizens will be confined among a population teeming with violent predators, under harsh and terrifying conditions. Conditions in which, especially for the disabled, their health often cannot be maintained

Then theres the rape and assault of these non-violent criminals. Tom Cahill, President of Stop Prisoner Rape, explains:

I credit the war on drugs with the tremendous increase in prisoner rape. Most prison rape victims are in for minor nonviolent offenses. The victim profile is a young adult confined for the first time for a minor victimless crime such as possession of a little too much marijuana and too poor to buy his freedom. . . .

These men and boys who are raped in prison will usually return to the community far more violent and antisocial than before they were raped. Some of them will perpetuate the vicious cycle by becoming rapists themselves

Adding to the damage done to individuals is the damage that these laws do to families.
Perhaps the major reason for single parent households in our country today is the huge number of imprisoned men. This perpetuates a cycle of crime and incarceration over the generations.

Wrecking the lives of the people of other countries
The United States has pressured many countries to collaborate with it in its War on drugs, particularly with respect to preventing the production and export of drugs from those countries. This often involves aerial spraying of farmland (especially in Colombia) suspected of growing drugs, and the consequent destruction of the livelihood of farmers.

The promotion of real crime
We should have learned our lesson from our experiment with prohibition, which spurred the rise of organized crime. Whenever a widely desired something is criminalized, its value will rise exponentially, while the desire for it will remain high, thus creating a need for an organization to fulfill that desire. Peter McWilliams, author of Aint Nobodys Business If you Do, explains how this contributes to the rise of organized crime, including narco-trafficking:

If fulfilling that desire is a crime, that organization will be organized crime. Operating outside the law as organized criminals do, they don't differentiate much between crimes with victims and crimes without victims. Further, the enormous amount of money at their disposal allows them to obtain volume discounts when buying police, prosecutors, witnesses, judges, juries, journalists, and politicians. Once consensual crimes are no longer crimes, organized crime is out of business.

Especially when the forbidden something is an addictive drug, its excessive cost will incite some people to commit crimes they would otherwise not have committed, such as robbery. Crimes committed for this reason can then become habit forming, leading to more crimes.

The time and money that goes into pursuing and punishing victimless crimes drains money away from crime prevention and rehabilitation programs which could otherwise contribute to reducing real crime. It drains money from the criminal justice system which could otherwise be used to pursue real crime. And it even sometimes leads to letting real criminals out of prison to make room for the victimless criminals. McWilliams describes the problem:

Real criminals walk free every day to rape, rob, and murder again because the courts are so busy finding consensual criminals guilty of hurting no one but themselves. And even if the courts could process them, the prisons are already full; most are operating at more than 100% capacity. To free cells for consensual criminals, real criminals are put on the street every day.

Contributions to racism and classism
The racial and class disparity in the United States for imprisonment for drug offenses is well known. Though the Federal Household Survey (See item # 6) indicated that 72% of illicit drug users are white, compared to 15% who are black, blacks constitute a highly disproportionate percent of the population arrested for (37%) or serving time for (42% of those in federal prisons and 58% of those in state prisons) drug violations.

Whenever and wherever victimless crimes are prosecuted and punished, the opportunity for arbitrary enforcement of the law based on racism or other nefarious factors is magnified tremendously.

Victimless crimes are unconstitutional
Victimless crimes are not specifically mentioned in our Constitution. Yet, it seems to me that they are intimately related to abuses of our Fourth Amendment. For one thing, warrantless searches and seizures have often been used to obtain evidence of victimless crimes. Secondly, I believe it is fair to say that warrantless searches and seizures and victimless crime laws are often pursued for the same reasons: as a means of wielding political power over selected portions of our population. Furthermore, a victimless crime law seems inconsistent with the idea of The right of the people to be secure in their persons Privacilla elaborates on this:

Victimless crime laws do threaten the privacy of innocents because of the monitoring and investigation they require for enforcement To enforce this kind of crime law, officials must engage in extensive monitoring, wiretapping, and surveillance of suspects and the public. The existence of victimless crimes tends to erode Fourth Amendment protections that are there to protect the privacy of innocents.

In fact, a recent US Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas, was argued partially on this basis. The case involved a Texas law that made consensual sex between homosexuals, even within the privacy of their own homes, a crime. The Supreme Court ruled against the state, striking down that law. It is not clear to me whether the Fourth amendment was part of that decision, but the plaintiff did pursue the case based in part upon Fourth Amendment issues, introducing arguments against victimless crimes:

Liberty cannot survive if the legislature demands that people behave in certain ways in their private lives based on majority opinions about what is good or moralAnd of course, the Founders believed wholeheartedly that majorities had no right to impose their beliefs on minorities. In Federalist 10, Madison articulated his concern

It could also be argued that victimless crimes violate our First Amendment restriction against laws respecting an establishment of religion, since religious values often provide the foundation for these laws. And certainly the due process clause of our Fifth Amendment is routinely violated by victimless crime laws, especially given the fact that they are so unequally enforced against the poor and minorities.

Nobody can say that we are winning our war on drugs, despite the 50 billion or so dollars that we spend on it annually. Drug use in the United States is little different today than it was when the War on drugs began.

McWilliams elaborates further on the cost:

We're losing at least an additional $150 billion in potential tax revenues moving the underground economy of consensual crimes aboveground would create 6,000,000 tax-paying jobs.

The withholding of medical treatment
Many illicit drugs have important medical uses, but because of the war on drugs their use for medical purposes is either completely outlawed or severely curtailed. Marijuana provides exceptionally good symptomatic relief or treatment for a wide range of medical conditions, for which there is no better or even comparable alternative treatment. Yet the pharmaceutical industry (among others) has lobbied extensively against the legalization of medical marijuana, and the federal government has complied by over-ruling state enacted medical marijuana laws. This adds to the huge profits of the pharmaceutical industry while denying millions of Americans symptomatic relief from serious diseases such as cancer or AIDS.

Especially important is the fact that many illicit drugs are highly effective against pain. Because of taboos against potentially addicting drugs, many people are needlessly denied the pain relief that they need to make their lives bearable, even as they are dying.

Reasons for incarcerating people for victimless crimes in the United States

Ever since Richard Nixon declared war on drugs and then trounced George McGovern (the last presidential nominee to seriously question our drug policies) in the 1972 Presidential election, winning every state in the country except for Massachusetts, politicians have believed that a tough on drugs stance is usually necessary to further ones political ambitions.

Another reason for the war on drugs, which may apply to the cynical leadership of the Republican Party, is that by disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of minority voters, the conservative agenda and chances for electoral success of the Republican Party are substantially enhanced. Magnifying the effect of imprisonment on disenfranchising voters are laws in many U.S. states that prohibit former felons from voting, thus extending the period of their disenfranchisement for the rest of their lives.

The war on drugs gives our government an excuse to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries such as Colombia. Not to mention the enhanced opportunity it gives to our Executive Branch for control over our own citizens (although today the war on terror suffices plenty well for that purpose.) And there is even evidence that the CIA has used the illicit drug trade as a major source of funding for itself.

There are also powerful corporate interests who lobby against certain victimless crimes, especially those involving drugs, because certain illicit drugs compete against their bottom line. Prominent on this list are the alcohol industry, the tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and those corporate interests that would have to compete against hemp if marijuana became legalized.

Coincident with the burgeoning prison population in the United States, there has also been a large increase in the number of private prisons, which increased from five in 1995 to 100 in 2005, in which year 62,000 persons were incarcerated in private prisons in the United States. Concommitantly with this explosive growth, the private prison industry has increased their profits through the use of slave labor, and they have lobbied extensively for more frequent and longer prison sentences, especially related to drugs. Tara Herivel and Paul Wright discuss this problem extensively in their book, Prison Profiteers Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration. From their book jacket:

Beginning with the owners of private prison companies and extending through a whole range of esoteric industries from the makers of Taser stun guns to riot security training companies, from prison health-care providers to the U.S. military (which relies on prison labor) and the politicians, lawyers, and bankers who structure deals to build new prisons Prison Profiteers introduces us to a motley group of perversely motivated interests and shows us how they both profit from and perpetuate mass imprisonment traces the flow of capital from public to private hands, reveals how monies designated for the public good end up in the pockets of enterprises dedicated to keeping prison cells filled.

Some final words on victimless crimes

As far as Im concerned, victimless crimes and an incarceration rate of nearly one percent are outrages. Our federal prison system provides a public, not a private service. When corporations are offered the opportunity to profit from a system like this, the potential for abuses, such as violating peoples Constitutional rights by making them into slaves, is large.

And what right do these corporations have to interfere with our justice system by lobbying for harsher prison sentences especially where victimless crimes are concerned? Yes, our Constitutional gives all Americans the right to petition Congress. But cant we make a distinction between petitioning and bribing? Those who lobby our government for the purpose of perpetuating these outrages are the real criminals.

Ill end this post with a quote from Walter Cronkite on behalf of the Drug Policy Alliance. This quote is directed at the war on drugs, but they apply just as much to all victimless crimes:

The federal government has fought terminally ill patients whose doctors say medical marijuana could provide a modicum of relief from their suffering as though a cancer patient who uses marijuana to relieve the wrenching nausea caused by chemotherapy is somehow a criminal who threatens the public.

People who do genuinely have a problem with drugs, meanwhile, are being imprisoned when what they really need is treatment. And what is the impact of this policy? It surely hasn't made our streets safer. Instead, we have locked up literally millions of people...disproportionately people of color...who have caused little or no harm to others wasting resources that could be used for counter-terrorism, reducing violent crime, or catching white-collar criminals.

With police wielding unprecedented powers to invade privacy, tap phones and conduct searches seemingly at random, our civil liberties are in a very precarious condition.

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on this effort with no one held accountable for its failure

But nothing will change until someone has the courage to stand up and say what so many politicians privately know: The war on drugs is a failure.

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Confusious Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 12:30 AM
Response to Original message
1. A little too long
Edited on Tue Jun-09-09 12:31 AM by Confusious
A with ya up to the kiddie porn, then NOT AT ALL WITH YOU.

Jail them for life.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 12:30 AM
Response to Original message
2. History books will one day show what a massive bullshit scam this was
Sadly probably not in our lifetimes.

The War on Drugs was nothing but a new front in the War on the Lower Classes.
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 09:13 AM
Response to Reply #2
14. And a huge transfer of wealth from the middle class scam
Not just another siphon though, this one had lots of macho, a major perk for its perpetrators.
Like its prison-industrial-complex subsidiary, perp gratification on several levels.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #2
19. I just hope I get to see that happen in my lifetime
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Kievan Rus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 12:32 AM
Response to Original message
3. War on Drugs = our social Vietnam
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Juche Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 12:50 AM
Response to Original message
4. You didn't mention prostitution
Edited on Tue Jun-09-09 12:52 AM by Juche
I didn't see that (but I might have missed it) but that shouldn't be a crime either.

As far as kiddie porn, I am drawn. On one hand yes I agree we've become a fairly irrational society about anything to do with sex, especially sex involving children. Rather than confront the harsh realities of child abuse, we have chosen to go with easy social myths about child abuse and draconian penalties.

I do not think digital child porn should be illegal, as long as no real child was hurt in its making. However real child porn probably should still be illegal IMO. But then again, I've seen internet videos of people being killed, of stores being robbed, of people being shot, etc. and it is not illegal to watch those even though they are photos and videos of crimes. So part of me can't justify why it is legal to watch a photo or video of a crime, just so long as the crime isn't child sexual abuse. Not that I have a desire to watch videos of child sexual abuse.

Watching a video of a child being physically abused isn't illegal, but a video of child sexual abuse is. So I don't know, there is no real consistency. Any video or photo of a crime is ok, as long as the crime isn't child sexual abuse. Videos of physical or emotional abuse of children are legal, but not videos of sexual abuse. Again, no idea.

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Ghost in the Machine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 12:53 AM
Response to Original message
5. I don't agree with the kiddie porn part, and you left out prostitution..
I see nothing wrong with consenting adults working out a sex for pay contract....

BTW, there were 872,000 people arrested in 2007 alone for possession of marijuana... the War on Drugs is the biggest scam of the century:

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 01:02 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. My biggest point about the kiddie porn laws is that merely having it on your computer is enough
Edited on Tue Jun-09-09 01:09 AM by Time for change
to get you in big trouble, before even making an attempt to determine how it got there. Things get onto peoples' computers without them having knowledge of it, as I pointed out.

I certainly agree that anything that contributes to the abuse of a child should be a crime.

With regard to leaving out prostitution, my plan was to talk about victimless crimes in general, and give some examples, rather than get into arguments over specific crimes that could be argued either way. In general I don't believe that prostitution should be a crime, but on the other hand some prostitutes are part of sex slavery rings, in which case it's not voluntary on their part. I certainly don't think that any sex between consenting adults should be illegal, but prostitution isn't always exactly consenting.
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Ghost in the Machine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 01:15 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Ok, I can go along with that.. maybe I didn't read it right, it's been a LONG day..
..and the pain meds are (happily) kicking in...

In your friend's case, they should be able to trace the ISP that the files were downloaded through as well as the IP number.... unless maybe the repair shop was using the same ISP as your friend. Someone who knows more than I do may be able to steer you in the right direction on that, though.

I always enjoy your posts, and many of us here deeply appreciate the thought and hard work you put into them...



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pipi_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 10:13 AM
Response to Reply #6
43. This is what scares me
Once when Mr Pip and I were at my son's house, his two little girls got filthy from dirt and cake and ice cream and needed a bath.

We were just leaving, but the girls (who were maybe 6 and 3 at the time) wanted "Poppa" and "Nanny" to come in and take pictures of them in the tub (my Daughter in law was bathing them). Poppa refused to go in, and I went in to say goodbye to them but told them I had put the camera away in the car.

Well, my DIL got some pictures of the girls in the tub on their camera and put them on a DVD with some of the birthday party photos.

So if our home got raided, would authorities call this "kiddie porn"?

Geez, I'm even afraid to have images of them in their bathing suits. Especially when I see the insanity that happens in the schools with "no tolerance" for kids having fucking plastic knives in their lunch boxes for cutting up fruit or something. There are always people out there able and willing to be total assholes just for the POWER they think it gives them.

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dreamnightwind Donating Member (863 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 03:37 AM
Response to Original message
8. K & R!!!
Thanks, I greatly appreciate the attention you're giving this issue.

I can never believe some of the things our citizens have come to accept. The incarceration rate of this country is insane. We throw around a word like "freedom" as if it's the defining characteristic of our country, yet the total opposite is reality.

This will take a tsunami of public outrage to change it. Happy to add my voice to what I hope will become a tsunami.

Lost in this discussion is the fact that, historically, the use of psycho-active plants has played a real and important part in human development. It's been that way for time eternal, yet we can't even bring that fact to the discussion on drugs in this country. Not everyone who uses drugs is seeking cheap thrills, many are expanding their consciousness, the way we were intended to.

In our recent history, the emergence of ecological consciousness on a large cultural scale can be traced to the drug culture of the 60's. As can the peace movement.

These people are criminals? I think not!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #8
21. Thank you. So true what you say about drug use
I would add that even if somebody does take drugs for the purpose of seeking "cheap thrills", that is no excuse for imprisoning that person. People do that with alcohol all the time, and they aren't imprisoned for it. What is legal and what is illegal in our country has too much to do with current power structures and too little to do with a reasonable consideration of justice.
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Lyric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 04:09 AM
Response to Original message
9. I actually see what you're saying about the child porn thing.
Laws that make mere possession a crime (rather than the act of OBTAINING it) make it entirely too easy to frame innocent people. A dear friend of mine named *Matt (not his real name, obviously) is a registered sex offender because his ex-boyfriend did something vicious to him when Matt broke up with him. The ex e-mailed him child porn. Matt printed it out with the header information included and took it straight to the police department, thinking that going to the authorities was the proper thing to do, and might potentially save an exploited child if said child could be identified. When he showed the printout to the police, HE was arrested for possession of child pornography. They didn't care how he got it--all they saw was an easy conviction because he was a young gay male living in West Virginia. In fact, at his trial, the DA specifically TOLD the jury that it didn't MATTER how he got it--it was illegal to have it, period. He and his parents have paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to attorneys trying to get this conviction overturned based on a Good Samaritan defense, but until that happens, he's stuck having to register as a sex offender, can't go near his own nieces and nephews, can't come visit US because we have a young child as well, can't use the internet, or own a computer, or a myriad of other ridiculous rules. He was a college student, but he had to drop out. His life is RUINED, and all because the possession laws made it easy-peasy for his ex to set him up.

Another friend of mine is dating a guy named *Rick (not his real name) who's also been a victim of someone else's viciousness in a similar way. He used to be a partner in a professional DJ business, and when the two partners split up after a conflict, his business partner set up a prepaid Mastercard in Rick's name and then used it to order a child porn video from the internet and have it sent to Rick's business P.O. box. The partner then called the police anonymously and told them that Rick was ordering child porn, and that he suspected that he had some in his P.O. box right then. The police got a warrant, took the contents of the P.O. box, and arrested Rick. He spent 21 months in a FEDERAL prison because there was child porn in his P.O. Box, even though he wasn't the one who'd ordered it, and even though he'd never actually had it in his physical possession. Apparently, having it in a locked P.O. box is considered "legal possession." The federal charges resulted because it was an offense involving the postal service and the mail.

While I loathe child pornographers to the depths of my soul, and I'd love to see all of them put in jail for LIFE, I have a LOT of sympathy for people like Matt and Rick. I think that the laws should be changed so that the act of OBTAINING or knowingly RECEIVING child porn is a crime, but mere possession is not. That would permit full prosecution of anyone who actively seeks it out and/or purchases it, but it would leave some wiggle room to spare innocent people like Matt and Rick. Nobody should have their entire life ruined just because some asshole wants to get revenge in the sickest way possible, and any law that makes it THAT easy to set someone up is a flawed law that needs to be revised.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 07:48 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. That is so outrageous!
The prosecutors in those cases you describe must totally lack a conscience -- just like the one that I described.

Btw, my friend's lawyer eventually got him off on First Amendment grounds. I couldn't believe that he used that, rather than the obvious fact that there was no evidence that he was responsible for the pictures on his computer. That's law has just got to be unconstitutional on Fifth Amendment due process grounds and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection groundsas well. Seems to me that that would be a much better choice to pursue.
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Juche Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 10:34 AM
Response to Reply #9
17. I think the same thing happens alot
I remember a news story where a man claims to have found a VHS tape in a park, and when he watched it it had kiddie porn on it and an adult male. After he took it to the cops the police arrested the adult male who was in the video, but after they did that they went and arrested the guy who found the video in the park for possession of child porn too. So you can't even report child porn for fear of being charged for possession of it.

It is insane. It is like if the laws said you cannot report a rape for fear you will be labeled an accessory. Sometimes the police are far too stupid and violent for their own good and the good of society.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #17
26. Absolutely
I told my friend about the pictures on my own computer, which had been to the same company. I suggested that he inform his lawyer, who would then inform the prosecutor -- and I naively thought that that should end the case.

He did tell his lawyer, who informed the prosecutor. And the prosecutor simply didn't give a damn. She thought she had a good case, and she intended to pursue it. She had no interest whatsoever in discovering how the images came to my friend's computer, or whether he had anything to do with them.

In retrospect, after reading some of the responses on this thread, I guess I should just consider myself lucky that I wasn't arrested.
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 08:26 AM
Response to Original message
11. i understand the difference in obtaining v possession - however
what time period do you draw the line - one day, one week, one year? "yes officer - somehow this kiddie porn has gotten onto my computer and i only kept it a year?????? somehow i am skeptical. One thing i am not skeptical about is the prison terms for kiddie porn - the absolute longest it can possibly be, ask anyone what the recidivism rates are for this type of "victim less crime"

i was with you on the decrim of marijuana, disagree with you on the kiddie porn, and i don't see the arrest of tens of thousands of muslims happening, as you stated, criminalization of islam is not happening.
post links that show where thousands/tens of thousands of people were arrested based on being muslim.

recidivism rates --- "victim-less crime" - not a chance
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Regarding the arrest and detention of Muslims
Estimates of how many prisoners have disappeared into the Bush administrations Gulag system cannot be precise because of the secrecy. Estimates have varied from 8,500 to 35,000. An AP story estimated around 14,000:

In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantanamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law.

Colonel Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had put the blame on Dick Cheney for much of the administrations torture guidance, claims that the number of disappeared approximates 35,000.

In addition, Stephen Grey, in his book "Ghost Plane", which I link to in the OP, estimated about 11,000 at the time he wrote his book, and he goes into great detail on the issue.

I don't understand your statement about kiddie porn? When you mention recidivism, what are you referring to -- recidivism for having pictures on their computer? When stuff enters peoples' computers they aren't necessarily notified of it. You can have stuff on your computer for years without ever noticiing it. And what do you mean when you say that you're not skeptical about the prison terms for this "crime"? You don't believe that people go to prison for having stuff dumped onto their computer without their knowledge? Did you read post # 9 on this thread? And why do you put "victimless crime" in quotes. If a person has pornographic pictures sent to their computer without their knowledge, whom do you think they are victimizing?
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #13
22. so 8,500 to 35,000 people were arrested just for being muslim?? no other issues right or wrong??
no other charges? - just they were muslim so they got locked up?? no sorry, i don't think so - if the US were arresting people just because they were muslim then we would have to arrest the entire country of afghanistan and iraq.

please review your words and my questions as i asked specifically for you to post support for your assertion that people were being locked up by the US government STRICTLY BECAUSE they were muslim. people get detained on a daily basis right or wrong for a multitude of things, i cant remember any case where a US soldier or US law enforcement officer locked someone up SOLELY because they were muslim

As for Kiddie porn - if you believe that it is "OK" for someone to knowingly have it - then you and i disagree, sexual offenders specifically those involved with kiddie porn have an extremely high recidivism rate. there is no excuse/reason for it to be had. i do believe that sex offenders will use any and all means to continue in their desires including "oh i didn't know it was on my computer"
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #22
25. There is abundant evidence that the good majority of our "War on Terror" prisoners
were innocent of any wrong doing.

See this post for evidence of that, under "Bush administration claims that its prisoners are the worst of the worst".

Furthermore, we had no right to make claims about their guilt or innocence anyhow, since only a minute fraction of them received trials.

With regard ot the kiddie porn issue, why do you insist on continuing to twist my words around. I said nowhere on this thread, as you claim, about whether it's ok to "knowingly have it" -- my main point has been about those who have it without their knowledge. Have you read the posts on this thread about people who went to the police to report evidence of kiddie porn that they had nothing to do with, and then they were arrested for that? Why don't you go back and read what I said before responding to this thread any more and putting words in my mouth?
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. i read the posts and you its seems you implying one thing then are vague about the specific answer
kiddie porn -
oh i read the stories about how 1 guy got his gard drive back from a computer repair store and it had kiddie porn on it, truly disturbing. however i have a hard time believing that we have an epidemic of computer repair guys going around filling hard drives with kiddie porn. i have no doubt there have been injustices in the system after all it is a system run by people and it will have failures (all systems will have them), however i have a really hard time believing that we need to overturn an entire series of laws designed to protect some of the most venerable and laws that have convicted and put away some truly sick individuals, especially if these people had jury trials and were still convicted. i would like to know and i will be looking for more information on my own how many people have been convicted of kiddie porn after reporting it on their own computer. versus how many people have been convicted based on law enforcement action.
i would agree with you that a person who finds it on their computer and reports it - should not be the focus of the law enforcement, however i have a hard time believing that there are so many innocent people out there with kiddie porn stashed away on their computer. i do believe that the majority of people who have it on their computers especially for over a week have it there to view it for their own pleasure (sickening but true)

it seems that what you are saying is that we have a law that because 1% of the people are getting screwed we should scrap the whole thing. i would put it like this if i told you there was a 99% chance you had the winning lottery ticket but because 1% of the tickets were messed up i was going to scrap the entire lottery - i'll bet you would be screaming up and down about how unfair it is.
until you can cite some stats that show there is a mass epidemic of kiddie porn jumping into innocent peoples hard drives - i am afraid we will have to agree to disagree

"war on muslims"
that was your title of your post - so where is the war? there probably are thousands of people who are Innocent of any wrong doing however - as i asked before show me where 1 US soldier or 1 US law enforcement officer has detained /arrested/imprisoned 1 person SOLELY because they were Muslim. when you phrase words to have a maximum impact you can sometimes get unintended consequences. the phrase "war on muslim" sounds good a real rallying cry because it implies that we are targeting people just for their religion. Which is so wrong i cannot even describe. It does however play an impact in other places where people hear it that statement they think to themselves "the US has admitted to being at war with islam". However misguided the wars in iraq and afghanistan are, the statement "war on muslims" is just false and seeks to move the impact and repercussions outside of what they are, and is a tactic used by AQ to enlist sympathizers in their cause. We invaded afghanistan to go after AQ/Taliban as the taliban was the government and gave material support to AQ they were held culpable for the damages. We invaded Iraq thinking we could effect a quick regime change, and possibly bring a viable arabic democracy, maybe get a grateful trading partner who has oil, remove a sore spot in the middle east and be in a position to pressure iran, sounded good to the leadership at the time, but it was misguided,mismanaged, underestimated and ill conceived to say the very least.

while we are at war in muslim countries, the United States is not at war with a religion, we are at war with a very small percentage of extreme radicals who use a twisted interpretation of muslim beliefs as a basis for their terrorism. it is important to know exactly who you are fighting - i believe the early stages of the iraq war made the same assumptions of lumping all muslims together - not a mistake we should be repeating.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #27
29. You are extremely naive
You say "i asked before show me where 1 US soldier or 1 US law enforcement officer has detained /arrested/imprisoned 1 person SOLELY because they were Muslim".

I showed you an article where one of our generals in Iraq said that 70% of our Muslim prisoners were there by mistake and had done nothing worth being imprisoned for. But since those who imprisoned them didn't come right out and say that all those people were in our prison solely because they were Muslim, you interpret that as meaning that I can't show you a single case where a person was imprisoned solely because they were Muslim.

If that's the way you use logic, there's no point in discussing this.
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. time for a change indeed -
i suppose your going to tell me thats its all a conspiracy that everyone knows it but they "don't come out and say it" - you chose your words poorly and you got hammered, don't worry it happens to everyone (me especially) be more careful next time - i would expect nothing less from people who seek office.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. Have you heard of racial profiling?
What we did to Muslims during our "War on Terror" was one of the most extreme forms of racial profiling we've ever participated in. It amounted to the incarceration of thousands of innocent people. Just because nobody came out and admitted "We're doing this just because they're Muslim", that doesn't change that fact. I did not choose my words poorly.
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 08:07 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. heard it, seen it, had it done to me -
yes it rings a bell - if you are alluding that because you get searched at the airport that somehow equates you being detained on a battlefield because you are muslim - please stop the hype. quick check - why do TSA workers keep a count of people who come through the metal detectors - because at the start of shift they are told a random number and every person who is that number in line gets "randomly selected" , and if you go through the detector more than 1 time you get "randomly selected", it is actually faster to wand you down than have you go back through and start again. as i posted before you alluded to a "war on muslims" as i have described before it is a false statement, i don't want talk show sound bites, i am going to answer the question for you - there is no one who has been detained because they were muslim. the reason no one will say it is because it isn't true. there are plenty of other reasons for people have been detained, probably with a vast majority being innocent.

if there was a case, of detainment solely because the person was muslim, i would be the first one standing next to you saying how wrong it is - Because it is wrong. however i dont like when people try to allude to something that isn't factual, if you cant assert the truth then dont.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. You think no one has been detained or tortured by our country because they were Muslim?
Fine. You go ahead and believe that. There's no need for further discussion.
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #33
34. solely because they were muslim - no
if you have any examples please post them -if so i will be the first to call my senators /write letter and stand on a corner, sign in hand with you. because detaining someone because they are muslim is not acceptable in the US.
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Larry Ogg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 10:23 PM
Response to Reply #34
37. Is this a good enough example?

You might also want to google: driving while Muslim and flying while Muslim. Oh wait a minute Does Muslims doing what everyone else is doing count or are you just looking for arrest examples of Muslims being Muslims? Whatever that is supposed to be!

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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 06:53 AM
Response to Reply #37
42. quote from the article - proves my point
"after the government realized their terrorism charges were baseless", "The looting charges were eventually dropped". -- so he was arrested on terrorism charges not on charges of being a muslim? please re-read my direct question.
i personally hope he gets his day in court and if it was blackwater or some other company i hope he puts them into the ground. it still doesn't change the fact that the OP alluded to people being detained and imprisoned SOLEY because they were muslim. something that is entirely wrong and as i have stated i will be happy to help expose if it happens.

my whole point is that the US has detained thousands of people on thousands of charges (most are innocent) however when the OP states that it is a "war on muslims", this is false it is not a war on a religion, but on an small fraction of extremists that use religious ideologies to perpetrate violence toward those who are not ideologically similar. here is how it looks there are 4 groups holding signs - 1 group - the repukes saying "war on extremists" 2nd group Democrats (like the OP) holding signs saying "war on muslims" now we also have Al Queda/associates holding signs saying "war on muslims" and then you have the King of Saudi Arabia and the president of Indonesia holding signs saying "was on extremists" so who looks like the idiot? it is a small but important distinction. we have already lumped all muslims into one group during the iraq invasion, and paid a horribly painful price for it, why do we continue to do it here?
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EOTE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #42
45. You just don't get it, do you?
Nowhere are there any laws on the books against being Muslim. Hence, you're not going to see any authority admit to detaining people solely for being muslim, that should be fairly obvious. That doesn't change the fact that muslims have been singled out and there are thousands of muslims being detained for absolutely no good reason. The nits that you're picking just make you seem obtuse.
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 02:54 PM
Response to Reply #45
46. not trying to be obtuse - just looking at a bigger picture
during this discussion we have gone from a "war on muslims" where is has been alluded that tens of thousands of people have been detained to a possible case in new orleans where a gentlemen who was muslim, got thrown in jail on (what are most likely bullshit) charges along with hundreds if not thousands)of other whites, blacks, christians, jews, poor, middle class, homeless, indigent, property owners, non-property owners (who were thrown in jail on the same bullshit charges) and from the looks of it he is using the same system that is at "war" with him to get back at the offenders (which he should) -- yet some how, this is supposed to be a "war" - one guy, hell even at 100 guys or a 500, i am not seeing a war on muslims being started by Bush and (apparently continuing under)Obama. with an estimated 5 - 8 million muslims in the us (using the low end of 5 million) and giving you 1000 proven cases - you are looking at .0002% - sorry i cant justify calling it a war.
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EOTE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #46
47. If the only ones effected by the effort belong to a single racial group...
Then it's not a stretch to call it a war at all.
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #47
49. i understand what you are saying
i just cant see the "war" label for 1 possible (i would even say probable) case. i fully agree that this guy needs his day in court - absolutely. when the granny got tasered by the big cop are we saying the US is now at war with old people (all medicare joke aside)these are errors in the system - ones that need to be absolutely corrected and valuable lessons learned but they are not wars. i find that we use the term "war" on this or "war" on that, we have lost what the true and horrible meaning of the word and the repercussions that will follow.
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EOTE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #49
53. Do you not see the difference between 1 old lady and THOUSANDS of Muslims
being detained indefinitely, many of whom for no good reason whatsoever? Please, you're not making very good comparisons here.
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 11:36 AM
Response to Reply #53
55. i see a big difference - the numbers are not there.
one is an error in in an imperfect system and will happen again, and when it does it needs to be screamed at and yelled at so that these errors are not given some sort of tacit approval. but the facts are there still aren't a thousand muslim cases, we have one possible (probable more than likely) case and it seems the system has already cleared him and allow him redress for the "alleged" (although probable)injustice.
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Occulus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #11
20. See, here's the thing
Edited on Tue Jun-09-09 01:05 PM by Occulus
by making mere possession illegal, you open everyone up to committing a crime they didn't even know was committed.

One example that this person has posted about here before involved his friend and his friend's computer. By using just a little logic, the obvious conclusion is reached that it was an employee of the repair shop using other people's computers to satisfy his sick hunger for child porn. However, that apparently didn't occur to the police or the prosecutors.

Suppose, for another example, that you somehow obtained a virus on your PC that zombied it out to child porn sites in the wee hours of the night, without your knowledge. In that case, the images it grabs may well never be found by you. You take it to a repair shop and the nightmare starts because ZOMG THESE KIDDY PR0N IMAGES HAVE BEEN THERE FOR TWO WHOLE YEARS WTF.

And you'd be completely oblivious until you're "caught".

Yet another example: you take a picture of your kid taking a bath on one of those throwaway 35mm cameras-in-a-box. The guy developing the picture doesn't see your child, but child porn, and turns it in to the authorities. (Why aren't the businesses reporting it being charged as well?)

Things like this are why I'm not particularly willing to be known helping police gather information- I'd rather use an anon tip than actually come forward unless I absolutely had to. I've heard about people who honestly are doing the right thing "getting caught" one too many times to go out of my way to help them do their jobs.
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votingupstart Donating Member (535 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #20
28. i almost agree
i would agree that "unknowingly possessing" should be the standard to hold the evidence to (if the person did not know or could not have reasonably known then he is free to go), or immediate discovery - a concept were if a person finds it they notify law enforcement immediately. however there is no reason to posses kiddie porn. i agree in your post where you point out the repair shop scenario, truly a disturbing thought, however any detailed analysis will show the last time the file was accessed, if it truly was installed 2 years ago with another program - ok, no harm, however if the file has been accessed every week along with others of the same ilk then no - do not pass, go straight to jail.

i understand the use of anon tips, i prefer that also as then i don't have to take off work to go testify - however i am a little suspicious that there is such an epidemic of innocent people turning in their hard drives they just found kiddie porn on and getting arrested.
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Sirveri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 08:38 AM
Response to Original message
12. Good post. Never understood why people couldn't 'get it'.
They keep saying that crime rates will rise, or whatever. The only problem is that those theoretcial crimes are still ACTUAL crimes, and it's not like they wouldn't be prosecuted. The entire situation is ridiculous.
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Larry Ogg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 09:38 AM
Response to Original message
15. It also needs to be mentioned that
protecting children is the pretense behind controlling internet content;which reveals too the truth seeker, that the biggest and most dangerous predatory criminals are the ones running and robbing our country and the world. These are the images that concern the PTB the most, as it is the consequences of their moral compass (or the lack thereof) - that has left in its wake of profit making - a depth of innocent victims too deep to fathom

K&R Dr Dale

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 08:46 PM
Response to Reply #15
35. "The biggest and most dangerous predatory criminals are the ones running and robbing our country
the world."

Isn't that the truth!
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MicaelS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 09:44 AM
Response to Original message
16. Long, but very good post.
A post I agree with wholeheartedly. Prohibition of alcohol and drugs are the worst internal social policy disasters the US has ever committed. People want to consume alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other street drugs. The urge is as old a humanity, certainly as old as agriculture. What the issues of intoxicants all share is a moral conflict between two polar opposite ideologies. One of freedom, the other of imposed morality, frequently based on religion aka the Bible. I don't care what all these moralists believe or the basis of their morality. I just want them to keep their morality in their homes and leave myself and others who don't share their beliefs the alone. I especially don't like MADD which is believe is trying re-enact Alcohol Prohibition.

Back Door to Prohibition: The New War on Social Drinking (PDF document)

The New Prohibitionists
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Torn_Scorned_Ignored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 11:10 AM
Response to Original message
18. The Fallacy
is that this is the Land of the Free.

Sorry I didn't read the entire post before my comment. I just can't stomach the irony of "our core values" and
Land of Liberty.


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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 03:08 PM
Response to Original message
23. Spot the LIE: Follow the MONEY.
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Wednesdays Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
24. K&R
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DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 09:35 PM
Response to Original message
36. Our justice system isn't working

People that should be in jail are able to go free because money pays lawyers to reduce/eliminate the charges.

There are cases of mistaken identity where people are sent to jail for a lifetime, until some bit of DNA finally proves someone else did the crime.

Then, as you discuss, there are all those thousands in jail, for years, for seemingly mere infractions.

Thinking ahead to when millions are jobless, homeless, pennyless and hungry, how are they going to survive? By stealing food to eat? Breaking into empty houses to sleep? If our prisons are so overcrowded now, does that mean more prisons are going to be built for these criminals? or will the people of victimless crimes be released to make room for the new criminals?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-09-09 11:42 PM
Response to Reply #36
38. First, Americans need to recognize that this is a major problem
That's half the battle.

Then we need to examine ourselves and figure out WHY our incarceration rate is so high, which will lead us towards a solution.
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dreamnightwind Donating Member (863 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 12:47 AM
Response to Reply #38
40. indeed, many of us need lots of help getting to the cause of this
I've had this discussion a number of times with non-progressive people. The usual lines of thinking have to do with surprise that's the incarceration rate is so much higher than it is in other countries, then when they talk about why it's so high, they'll say things like, "we have a large number of lawless minorities in this country".

The more knowledgeable of them will back this up with info on the incarceration rates of blacks, which are incredibly high.

Basically, they've been conditioned to see it this way. Blame the poor, the minorities, etc. Things like crime in the face of hopelessness and hunger, and arrest and prosecution rates that are inconsistent across racial lines don't really enter the picture in their assessments.

So I think that's part of the battle we face, to re-educate people as to why we lock up so many of our people.

Honestly, I don't fully understand it myself, other than for-profit prisons, a huge disparity in the distribution of wealth in this country, racism, culture wars (prosecute the pot-smoking hippies), and a political system that makes posturing as tough on crime a winning platform. You'd think most of these things would also be an issue in other countries, so the underlying cause of this situation is still not entirely clear to me.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #40
44. I think your last paragraph pretty well sums it up
Our country has taken a hard right turn since about 1980, which is about when the rise in our incarceration rate became marked:

Although the American populace has moved leftwards in recent years, our elected representatives remain far to the right of the American population.
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dreamnightwind Donating Member (863 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 04:28 PM
Response to Reply #44
48. great chart!
Thanks for posting that, it really makes it clear! Though I'm sure most of us intuitively knew this, I'm still surprised that it lays out that reality so starkly. I think the distribution of wealth charts show much the same trend lines over the same time period.

So, the task is immense, we have to re-educate much of the nation about what has happened since Reagan and his Mourning In America rode into town on his fake horse.

This is what angers me so much about getting Democrats into power, finally, and seeing only small, superficial changes to the previous right-wing policies. This country, as you said, took a hard right turn in 1980, and no small tweaks will bring it back. That's why we have to advocate for true progressive reform and not settle for republican-light.

Thanks again for this thread.
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TerryRay Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 03:43 AM
Response to Reply #44
50. Tha graph is startling ONLY
if the % of the population in jail has risen. If the % is around the same then all your seeing is more people in jail because well, there are more people in America now compared to 1920 or 30 and so on.

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dreamnightwind Donating Member (863 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 05:35 AM
Response to Reply #50
51. Nice try, thanks for playing
The US population curve looks nothing like that graph! There is no major uptick in the population growth trend line at the start of the Reagan era. See for yourself:

If I learn how to post images on here I'll do so, sorry to send you to a link instead.
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TerryRay Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #51
56. nice try?
I was not saying what he posted was wrong, I was making the point it all depended on the change in % of Americans in jail compared to the total amount
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 11:01 PM
Response to Reply #56
58. You make a good point
I noticed that when I posted it -- but the increase in the number of incarcerated people is way out of porportion to the increase in our population since 1980.
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dorkulon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 12:32 AM
Response to Original message
39. "A crime does not cease to be a crime just because someone photographs it."
Edited on Wed Jun-10-09 12:32 AM by dorkulon
This is demonstrably false when applied to prostitution. Pay someone to have sex with you, it's a crime, unless you're filming it, in which case it's porn and protected.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 05:39 AM
Response to Reply #39
52. I think the logic is...
That they are being payed for the filming of the sex, not for the sex.

It's semantics, I know. But the law is ALL about semantics.
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Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-10-09 12:51 AM
Response to Original message
41. People have to either agree with the laws of their government
or supposedly pick people who might think like them to, theoretically, change the laws to more reflect their wants and needs. Of course it doesn't work like that at all, but hey bullshit sells.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
54. I had no idea, and I considered myself informed...
Are we really within spitting distance of having 1% of our population in jail right now?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-11-09 10:57 PM
Response to Reply #54
57. We most certainly are
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