Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Oral History of the War on Drugs & The American Criminal Justice System

vimeo | The Land of the Free punishes or imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation. This collection of testimonials from criminal offenders, family members, and experts on America’s criminal justice system puts a human face on the millions of Americans subjugated by the US Government's 40 year, one trillion dollar social catastrophe: The War on Drugs; a failed policy underscored by fear, politics, racial prejudice and intolerance in a public atmosphere of "out of sight, out of mind."

The United States has only 5% of the world's population, yet a full 25% of the world's prisoners. At 2.5 million, the US has more prisoners than even China does with five times the population of the United States. 8 million Americans (1 in every 31) languish under some form of state monitoring known as "correctional supervision." On top of that, the security and livelihood of over 13 million more has been forever altered by a felony conviction. 

The American use of punishment is so pervasive, and so disproportionate, that even the conservative magazine The Economist declared in 2010, "never in the civilized world have so many been locked up for so little."

The project will unfold over a two year period, beginning with the release of this feature-length documentary and then continuing on with the release of short films and complete interviews from each of the 100 participants in the project, meant to represent the 1 in 100 Americans that are currently sitting behind bars.
The Exile Nation Project is made possible by a generous grant from the Tedworth Charitable Trust and the openDemocracy group, in association with Exile Nation Media. All content produced is non-commercial and available for free distribution under a Creative Commons license.


Ed Dunn said...

What California does the rest of the country goes. Housing inmates is expensive and now has risen to a point where the tax budget is more expensive than the feel good "lock em up" rhetoric among conservative states. While we are talking about Eric Holder, for the past two years the conservative states have quietly scaled back their "lock em up" rhetoric and offering alternatives to jail for convicts as well as early release.

CNu said...

A century ago this year was when California first banned marijuana. In fact, weed historian and legalization advocate Dale Gieringer pinpoints the key date to Aug. 10, 1913, when a new regulation quietly took effect from the state Board of Pharmacy that added “locoweed” to the state Poison Act.

“They began launching raids,” said Gieringer, California coordinator of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Law enforcement would pose as addicts who needed a fix but didn’t have a doctor’s note, then arrest the druggist.”

Before the early 1900s, though, weed had a relatively long legal history of highs and lows in the United States. Some historians believe the Jamestown settlers brought cannabis to the United States in 1611.

In the 1700’s, Gieringer said, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. By the 1800’s, he added, it was sold in certain drugstores, and touted as a cure for migraines and menstrual cramps by the doctor of Queen Victoria.

In the early 1900s, however, a wave of states including California began banning use of the drug without a prescription. http://www.dailynews.com/health/20130809/marijuana-marks-a-milestone-first-banned-in-california-100-years-ago

CNu said...

Those California prison guards have inadvertently slain the goose that was laying its golden eggs..., http://www.policymic.com/articles/41531/union-of-the-snake-how-california-s-prison-guards-subvert-democracy

BigDonOne said...

Illegal drug usage could be deleted virtually overnight by implementing the BD_Plan ....whenever illegal drugs are seized, adulterate them with a difficult-to-detect slow-acting fatal toxin and allow this product to flow back into the pipeline (including in prisons/jails).

Userz would see the results and quit using or sooner or later "delete" themselves. In addition, outraged friends and associates of the dead LOOZerz would "delete" the supplierz of Bad Stuff. Tracking of the well-deserved user and supplier carnage would provide authorities with vivid evidence of sources and supply routes thereby greatly aiding prosecutions. Only the guilty would pay The_Supreme_Penalty. LEOs, courts and penal system (i.e., taxpayers) would be spared otherwise ever-spiraling costs. Massive petty crime by users supporting their habits would be eliminated......

CNu said...

Help me out BD. What EXACTLY are these people guilty of that warrants the state imposing a death sentence upon them? Surely you realize that absent prohibition, all of the major condiments are trivially inexpensive to cultivate or manufacture - so cost and crime would immediately be moot. Are you suggesting that personal sovereignty does not extend to the area of cognitive sovereignty and that the state is correct in policing and punishing individuals who alter their state of consciousness or self-medicate?

BigDonOne said...

For openers, e.g., suppose some spaced-out Cannabis Cowboy T-Bone-terminates your carefully cultivated perfect kids...happens every day....

John Kurman said...

But the vast majority of abused drugs are pharmaceuticals. The vast majority of deaths are from legal drugs. Would you suggest these be poisoned to cut down on the abuse? And Big Pharma refuses to invest in alternate materials that are used as feed stock for crack cooks. Are you suggesting they forego big profits to keep all those gnarly-toothed white trash yokels alive to tax the system in some other way?

CNu said...

Please parse "notwithstanding having created the system". I don't quite understand what you're getting at BD. Oh, and cannabis cowboy's t-boning can't hold a candle to budweiser bozos and jack daniels jackoffs - let us insofar be serious with ourselves.

Constructive_Feedback said...

Brother Ed:

Most people are missing the underlying point of this debate.

Eric Holder made a PUBLIC POLICY decision about incarceration.
The people of New York made a PUBLIC POLICY decision about stop and frisk as a gun violence mitigation strategy.
Gupta offered his two cents into the PUBLIC POLICY debate about marijuana.

While all of the popular focus and passions are in the legislative and political circles of America (the Malcolm X Political Football Game) - the bottom line remains - as each of the young people born in America matriculate their way through to adult consciousness the SYSTEMS of CULTURE, EDUCATION and CIVICS must be in place to guide them down a productive path - with the outcome of them becoming a productive citizen - able to return the favor.

Those who call themselves "RIGHTS ACTIVISTS" often show great incompetence at DEVELOPING people that are assigned to their community institutions.

They blame the Prison Industrial Complex for the policy of "Mass Incarceration". Yet we hear far too few conversations about the grand broken promise of ORGANIC DEVELOPMENT that was to have transpired after their political victories.

The use of marijuana as a casual intoxicant is not a problem for most users.
It is when we try to apply the claim of us being a "People In Crisis" that need to act in a "Crisis Mode" - tightening up our loose parts in preparation for an enduring battle that we see the flaws in the present distribution model.

"The Fight" metaphor is only used to "Rile Black People Up". When it comes to the need to "DENY YOURSELF for a defined INTERVAL - your DISCIPLINE and CLEAN LIVING (see Malcolm X) being necessary to allow you to rise above your demons that take down other mere mortals - that we see that so much of what is cast as "The Important Black Agenda" - is NOT for the Development Of Black People.

It is for the development of CONSUMERS, who are tuned out but made comfortable.

BigDonOne said...

Dude...Let's just solve one problem at a time, OK?? Pot, heroin, cocaine, and meth account for most of the (1) drug possession/dealing offenses, (2) committing crimes to support habits, and (3) assaults and killings associated with drug dealing,

CNu said...

smdh..., John, how you gonna go in on BD's kinfolk like that?