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May 23, 1996

Federal Representative Continues Probe Into Potential Misuse Of Federal Power
At Anti-NORML Demonstration

May 1996, Washington, D.C.: Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) continues to make federal waves in response to a December 1995 rally held outside the offices of Boston radio station WBCN to protest the airplay of the NORML benefit CD, Hempilation.

Having previously written to Attorney General Janet Reno this winter both condemning the actions of rally organizers, the Governors Alliance Against Drugs, and requesting an inquiry into whether federal law enforcement officials were involved, Frank is again pressuring the Attorney General to take action. "I'm writing to express my severe disappointment in the response I received [from DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine] to a letter I sent you in December about the conduct of the Drug Enforcement Administration in an effort by officials of the state and federal government to put inappropriate pressure on a radio station, and to do so in an inappropriate manner," Frank asserts. "The response confirmed my fear that the Drug Enforcement Administration does not have the respect for free expression which ought to exist in the federal government, especially the Department of Justice, charged as it is with the protection of constitutional rights."

According to eyewitness accounts, the Massachusetts based anti-drug group, in cooperation with representatives from the DEA and local law enforcement, organized and participated in a protest outside the offices of WBCN Boston to voice their disapproval of the station "giving airtime" to the NORML benefit CD, Hempilation. Witnesses note that protesters arrived in state vehicles, attendees were encouraged to "bring their squad cars," and that an individual identified as the Boston liaison to the DEA accompanied Georgette Watson, Executive Director of the G.A.A.D, as she entered the station. This action prompted Bill Downing, president of Mass Cann NORML, to charge that "Th[is] sort of [behavior], when performed by government agents, [is] specifically [prohibited] by law."

"It is one thing for government officials to express their opinions as to what is appropriate behavior by radio stations," writes Frank in his follow-up letter to Ms. Reno. "It is quite another for a law enforcement official to arrive in these circumstances and participate in what is clearly an effort to pressure them on the spot. ... We are talking here about a situation where a law enforcement officer - I assume armed with both a weapon and with the power of arrest - enters a radio station in the company of a state official who has organized a demonstration and joins with her - indeed at her specific request - in trying to persuade people at the station to stop playing certain music. ...

"My impression is that we do not have enough law enforcement officials available to do actual law enforcement. Diverting one of them to spend his time seeking to pressure radio stations into changing their selections is it seems to me both a misuse of scarce resources as well as a misuse of the authority of law enforcement officials where people's first amendment rights are involved. I therefore must ask that you promulgate policies which prohibit law enforcement officials from engaging in this sort of activity."

For more information, please contact either Bill Downing of Mass/Cann NORML at (617) 944-2266 or Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Modified Hemp Measure Becomes Law In Vermont

May 16, 1996, Montpelier, VT: A bill (H. 783) that could signal the first step in the establishment of a domestic hemp industry in Vermont became law without the signature of Gov. Howard Dean. However, hemp proponents maintain that the approved measure falls short of the bill's initial expectations and acknowledge that any chance for local industrial hemp cultivation still remains far away.

Similar to a resolution recently approved in Hawaii, the revised Vermont legislation allows for research to be conducted into the feasibility of industrial hemp production, but removed language that would have authorized the state university to grow test plots in order to assess optimum soils and other growing conditions. The bill is a "compromise," admits Rep. Fred Maslack (R-Poultney), one of the chief backers of the original bill. Maslack notes that Gov. Dean would have vetoed any legislation that allowed for the growing of hemp.

"It's a start," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "But it's also an indicator of just how far we have to go."

In sum, the approved measure maintains that: "The commission of agriculture, food and markets and the University of Vermont are requested to undertake research, of a minimum of two years in duration, of industrial hemp production in the state. [This research] shall include; (1) Analysis of market economic conditions affecting the development of an industrial hemp industry in the state of Vermont; (2) Analysis of whether Vermont soils and growing conditions are appropriate for economic levels of industrial hemp production; (2) Analysis of research undertaken elsewhere in the world regarding minimum THC levels of industrial hemp production; and (4) Analysis of possible law enforcement aspects of industrial hemp production in Vermont."

For more information, please contact either the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP) at (303) 784-5632 or Rep. Fred Maslack at (802) 287-9298.

For more information on state efforts to initiate domestic hemp cultivation, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

South Australia's Director Of Public Prosecutions Recommends The State Grow Cannabis

May 1996, South Australia, Australia: The Director of Public Prosecutions in South Australia wants the State government to grow and regulate the sale of cannabis, according to statements he recently made in an exclusive interview with the Australian publication, The Advertiser.

"We never really had a chance [in trying to stop drug use]," Director Paul Rofe, QC, stated. "We've just got to do something drastic."

Rofe maintains that criminal involvement in the cannabis trade would be cut dramatically if the government were to either begin growing the drug or issue licenses for its manufacture. Rofe suggested implementing a regulatory system similar to those already in place for the sale of alcohol and tobacco whereby individuals could purchase marijuana over the counter. Such a move would both eliminate illegal profits from the black-market sale of the drug and would cut down on the "underground" attraction of smoking cannabis, Rofe remarked.

For more information, please contact James Danenberg of HEMP SA Inc. at (+61) 8 297 9442 or write: P.O. Box 1019, Kent Town, South Australia, 5071. HEMP SA can be contacted via e-mail at: or browsed on the World Wide Web at:

Correction: According to more recent and thorough data attained from Paul Stanford of the Oregon state political action committee, Pay for Schools by Regulating Cannabis, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 1997 (aka OCTA) has gathered only approximately 31,000 signatures - not the 65,000 that was reported by NORML last week. NORML regrets and inconvenience this error may have caused.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Multnomah County courts sentenced 14 felons to jail or prison in the most recent week. Of those, seven were controlled-substance offenders according to the "Portland" zoned edition in Thursday's
Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area (May 23, 1996, p. 8, 3M MP-SE). That brings the total so far this year to 147 out of 257, or 57.19 percent.

May 21 Election Results

A record-low 37 percent of Multnomah County voters on May 21 endorsed a measure to borrow $79.7 million face value in 30-year bonds to build more jails (primarily for marijuana offenders). There has still been no public disclosure of what the interest on those bonds will cost. A previous, 20-year estimate of $134 million total was published by The Oregonian in "Keep jail measure lean" (Feb. 29, 1996, p. B10), which also reported that the new-jail bonds would purchase 480 new beds. The day after the election, The Oregonian reduced that to 330 beds in a story titled "'Books and crooks' OK with county voters" (p C2). With the maturity of the bonds now set at 30 years, the cost with interest would seem to have increased to at least $200 million total, not including the $89 million three-year operating levy.

At $79.7 million for 330 new beds, the cost per jail bed is $241,515.15. Assuming the cost with interest is no more than $200 million over 30 years, the cost for each of the 330 new jail beds would be at least $606,060.60, more a half-million dollars each. At that rate, just building jail space for the minimum 31,806 illegal-drug consumers the federal government estimates live in Multnomah County (see the April 4 Portland NORML news release item, "Let's Do the Numbers") would cost taxpayers 31,806 x $606,060.60 = $19,276,363,000, or more than $19 billion.

Although the new bonds will also purchase "additional juvenile space; a facility for abused children; restructuring the law and justice computer network," those are normal infrastructure costs associated with and required by such a huge expansion in jails and the criminal-injustice system, and it's realistic to assume that any more jail beds would entail similarly expensive related costs.

While the daily paper ran several staff editorials endorsing the new-jail and levy measures just in the week leading up to the May 21 election, not a single "letter to the editor" opposing the measures was printed, ever. Other major Portland print and broadcast media also failed to give the public any information or opinions that might undermine support for new jails.

Surprise - voters endorsed the new jails, 55 percent to 45 percent.

The mass media apparently think 45 percent of the voters are nuts. It's hard to believe impartial coverage of that 45 percent wouldn't have spelled doom for new jails. But since fear-mongering is the bread and butter of mass media, fairness is perhaps a conflict of interest.

Portland Mayor Vera Katz took 83 percent of the vote, avoiding a run-off election. Democrat Tom Bruggere will take on Republican Gordon Smith for Mark O. Hatfield's U.S. Senate seat - neither candidate has said how many cannabis- and other illegal-drug offenders they want to imprison. Portland city commissioner Earl Blumenauer will serve the remainder of Ron Wyden's 3rd District U.S. representative term and is all but certain to be elected to a full term in November. In the heavily conservative and Republican 2nd U.S. representative district, Democrat Mike Dugan seems to have an actual chance of defeating incumbent and HR 2507 co-signer Wes Cooley, apparently incapacitated by self-inflicted political wounds. HR 2507 sponsor Jim Bunn will face Democrat Darlene Hooley, currently one of three Clackamas County commissioners. Republican Bill Witt will face 1st District U.S. representative incumbent Elizabeth Furse (Portland NORML would appreciate statements from either candidate that would help distinguish them from each other regarding drug policy). Hardy Myers defeated Kevin Mannix in the Democratic primary for state Attorney General and will face the little-known Republican Victor Hoffer. Measure 24, which would have required statewide voter initiatives to collect an equal number of signatures from each congressional district, failed. Measure 25, which will require supermajority legislative support for new taxes, passed. A Portland measure to limit the terms of city officials was defeated.

In short, there were no obvious victories for drug-policy reformers to claim.

An excerpt from the May 23 Zychik Chronicle bears repeating:

Politics is unlike any other warfare. In other warfares one of your goals is to terrify the enemy. What distinguishes politics from any other warfare is that in politics the goal is to terrify your constituency.

My friend is terrified of Bob Dole and the Religious Right. So he'll vote for Clinton. I know many gun owners who are terrified of Bill Clinton. They'll vote Dole. There are probably hundreds of thousands of pro-choice voters who would rather vote Libertarian, but out of fear will vote for Clinton. Same for voters who want to legalize drugs. There are hundreds of thousands of pure capitalists, who will vote for Dole because Clinton is, in fact, as left as FDR was. And so it goes.

American voters are gripped by fear - a fear both parties are counting on. It's a fear along the lines of: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Except it goes "Cast not the first stone because yours will be the only stone." So, for as long as the Democrats and the Republicans can fill you with fear of being in a minority, as long as they can get you to believe that the system we have today can't be improved, they win; you lose.

But what would happen if you did something the Dems and the Repubs are hoping you don't do? What would happen if not only did you do it, but you encouraged your friends to do it? Yes, what would happen if you voted your conscience? What would happen if you voted *not* against the candidate you feared the most, but *for* the candidate you wanted?

What would happen is we would have a government run by "We the people."

[End quote]

Comparative Morbidity Rates For Licit And Illicit Drugs

How dangerous are illegal drugs? The government, media and public officials repeatedly charge that prohibition is justified by the extreme dangerousness of illegal drugs. It turns out such "dangerous" drugs pose relatively less risk to users than alcohol and tobacco, our most deadly recreational drugs. Evidence for this now comes from no less than the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), an organization with impeccable prohibitionist credentials:
Drug                 Deaths per 100,000 Users

                High Estimate                Low Estimate

Tobacco             650                          640
Heroin              400 (80)                     200 (40)
Alcohol             150                           70
Cocaine              20  (4)                       2
Marijuana             0                            0
Source: Drug Abuse Awareness Network, Surgeon General,
Center for Disease Control Mortality and Morbidity Reports;
Numbers in parentheses discount deaths due to street impurities.
These statistics are from 1984-1989) Cato Institute Paper
No. 121, May 25, 1989.
A look at the morbidity rate of cocaine (which includes crack) is just one surprising statistic. According to DAWN, cocaine has a mortality rate about 10 times lower than alcohol.

This is not meant to ignore the real and significant harm attributable to illegal drugs. The intent rather is to debunk the myths popularized by government, media and public officials, which are at variance with reality and yet form much of the rationale for treating illegal-drug use as a public safety issue rather than a public health issue.

[A different source:]

Drug                 Deaths per 100,000 Users

Tobacco				650
Alcohol				150
Heroin				 80
Cocaine				  4
Marijuana			  0
Source: Ostrawski, Holfsta Law Review 18:3 (1990), based on
figures from NIDA and DAWN.

Portland Cannabis Buyers' Club Update

"Robert," an AIDS patient and spokesman for the Portland CBC, discussed the group's activities and status at the May 22 meeting of Portland NORML. Each of the group's members suffers from a debilitating illness or injury from which cannabis provides the best or only relief. Each CBC member also has a written endorsement from their physician on file with the club.

(The physicians do not necessarily recommend their patients' use cannabis. Most merely acknowledge they know their patients are using it. Each of those physicians risks his or her license and livelihood by participating. Unfortunately, that is why doctors are seldom heard defending medicinal marijuana in public - they all work for the DEA and Oregon Medical Association, in the sense that the DEA or OMA can yank their licenses or make their lives miserable at any time. Unfortunately, both the DEA and OMA are political organizations controlled by those with no interest in the evidence regarding marijuana's efficacy as a medicine.)

About 40 CBCs exist in major cities around the country. CBC members pool their money to buy relatively large amounts of cannabis at lower individual cost. Sometimes marijuana sellers have special rates for the CBC. The cannabis is sterilized before distribution to reduce the threat from micro-organisms. So far, Portland-area law-enforcement officials have not taken action against the CBC, but there is no public commitment from city officials. Most of the Portland CBC members have AIDS, while others suffer from multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, anorexia, chronic pain and spastic disorders. For more details about how and why cannabis really helps so many HIV+ patients, see the excellent article "Marijuana and AIDS," posted in Portland NORML's Web pages at Other information on marijuana's proven medicinal properties can be accessed from Portland NORML's "Articles" and "Links" pages.

The Portland CBC can be contacted at its mail drop at 2600 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., #119, Portland, OR 97212, or by leaving a message at (503) 224-6919.

June 22 Portland Hemp Fest Update

The second annual Portland Hemp Fest will take place 10 am-10 pm Saturday, June 22 (the longest day of the year), at Holladay Park, next to Lloyd Center and Interstate 84 at Northeast 11th Avenue and Holladay Street. Nationally known and local speakers plus more than 50 legal-hemp businesses will also be featured at the grassy and tree-shaded park, right on the MAX light-rail line and several Tri-Met bus routes, across the Willamette River and just northeast from downtown Portland.

Jeff and Siouxsie Crawford, who organized last year's festival, are also organizing this year's Portland Hemp Fest. Vendors and reporters can direct all questions and requests for interviews, etc., to the Crawfords, who produce the Billboard Award-winning "Bohemia Afterdark" alternative-music video show. Jeff and Siouxsie's phone numbers are (503) 203-5427 and (503) 203-5428. For more information about "Bohemia Afterdark" check out their World Wide Web page at The Crawfords can be e-mailed at The home page for OCTA is at

In addition to continuous music on two stages by national and local acts, the festival will feature such famous speakers as Elvy Musikka of the Cannabis Action Network; activist Ron Kascinsky, Chris Conrad, author of "Hemp: Lifeline to the Future" (tentative); Dennis Peron, who recently resigned as president of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club (tentative); a representative of the Portland Cannabis Buyers Club; and Sandee Burbank, a Chief Petitioner for the Compassionate Oregonian Voters' Effort (COVE) and the founder of the parents' group, Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse (MAMA). Also speaking will be Portland NORML Director T.D. Miller; master of ceremonies Chris Iverson - one of three Chief Petitioners for the Oregonian Cannabis Tax Act of 1997 - and Floyd Ferris Landrath of the American Anti-Prohibition League.

Reach Out And Touch Your Congressional Delegation

The toll-free number to the U.S. Congressional switchboard sponsored by the AFL-CIO is still up and running - and probably will be through the coming election season. Just call 1 (800) 962-3524 between 9 am and 5 pm Eastern Standard Time and ask for the office of your U.S. representative. Then do the same thing with your U.S. senators - Mark O. Hatfield and Ron Wyden here in Oregon. Give some thought to what you want to say and what action you will request before you call, and be prepared to speak with a subordinate staff member. Be sure to get his or her name! Try to be agreeable and sympathetic and elicit how the elected official feels about H.R. 2618 or whatever drug-policy reform issue you are calling about. Try to save any disagreements for a written follow-up letter, when you can more easily cite evidence to rebut misconceptions. Then follow up your letter within a week or so with another phone call, then another and another until you get a written response. And please report back what you learn so others on this list can understand where public officials stand and build on your progress.

Gingrich Tells Portland Audience Clinton 'Soft On Drugs'

Admitted former pot smoker and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich dropped into Portland on Sunday, May 19, to appear at a $200-a-person fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Jim Bunn and a $1,000-a-person photo session at the Marriott Hotel. According to a May 20 report in The Oregonian titled "Gingrich calls Clinton a liar at fund-raiser for Bunn" (pp. B1 & B6), the Georgia Republican "called President Clinton a liar and blamed his administration for an increase in drug use among youth." During the $1,000-per-person photo session, Gingrich regaled those present "with stories he said illustrated the laxness of the Clinton administration. He recited ... news reports that border police have turned back some drug smugglers instead of prosecuting them. ... Finally, Gingrich cited surveys showing higher drug experimentation among eighth-graders as evidence that the Clinton administration has been soft on drugs. Instead of following former first lady Nancy Reagan's admonition to 'just say no,' Gingrich said, one Clinton adviser - former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders - 'said maybe we should legalize it.'"

Later, during a "Town Hall" appearance on KATU Channel 2, Portland's ABC affiliate, Gingrich proposed transferring thousands of Internal Revenue Service employees to the Drug Enforcement Agency. "The IRS has over 120,000 employees because our tax system is so complicated. ... [W]e could transfer most of those IRS employees to drug enforcement. After all, we all know our young people (he gestures towards a young boy seated nearby) are threatened more by illegal drugs and immigration than an IRS audit."

No one was allowed to respond to Gingrich on "Town Hall." Jeff Gianola quickly ended the segment and went to a commercial. Gingrich was gone and the subject changed when the program resumed.

While one wouldn't expect the rich Republicans attending the benefit to question Gingrich's facts, it is always amazing that reporters who should know enough to ask a simple question, refuse to challenge the falsehoods of public officials such as Gingrich, especially when these public officials are being paid thousands of dollars to call their political opponents "liars." (Which is not to say that Clinton isn't a liar.)

One wonders why someone in the media didn't point out to the former pot smoker that, according to FBI statistics, marijuana arrests in the United States rose from 287,850 in 1991, during the Bush administration, to 342,314 in 1992, 380,690 in 1993 and a record 481,098 in 1994 under Clinton. How does the gentleman from Georgia interpret that as lax?

It might have been interesting if someone had asked how dramatically increasing arrests might be causing the small increase in drug use among young people, but Gingrich got a free ride. What if someone had pointed out how the generation raised on "just say no" misinformation is the same one that is now allegedly using marijuana (and tobacco and alcohol) at slightly increased rates? How would the know-nothing from Georgia have responded if someone had recited the story from the front page of the May 15 'Statesman Journal' in Salem, Oregon, titled "School Board Torn on Drug Policy," which reported that the Salem-Keizer School Board's zero-tolerance policy threatens to bankrupt it, since the district is still required to educate the students it expels? The expulsion rate among the very kids who have been exposed to "Just Say No" campaigns all their lives) has "soared from a handful of students five years ago to 260 so far this year." (Complete text posted at

Would the former toker from Georgia blame Clinton for what is apparently a worldwide phenomenon of slightly increased cannabis use among young people? The same trend has been reported in the last few years in Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands. (In Holland, the phenomenon is considered harmless since it has been accompanied by falling rates of hard-drug usage, and because overall rates of cannabis use have remained stable, as they have in the United States. People in their 30s in both countries generally stop using cannabis or greatly reduce their intake as they near 40. The recent University of Amsterdam study, "Cannabis Users in Amsterdam," thoroughly documents this phenomenon.)

Gingrich also misrepresents the fact that former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders only called for studying the issue of whether a more effective drug policy might be possible. Elders never endorsed "legalization," she only called for an open and honest examination of how different policies might reduce crime, violence and the other myriad harms caused by zero-tolerance drug prohibition, including increased usage itself. That Gingrich and other politicians can get away with squelching that debate, ignoring all the major studies of drug policy, and the thousands of informed citizens who are calling for an open discussion of the facts, bodes ill for the democratic process as well as the future of drug policy. If those in power are so sure of prohibition's wisdom, they should not fear an open and honest examination of the evidence.

Considering how self-righteously Gingrich has charged others with lying and throwing ever more money into failed public policies, one wonders at what point Gingrich would admit that current policies don't work and are in fact counterproductive? As the laws of supply and demand would suggest, interdiction does not work and never has. Clinton, like those before him, has poured ever more money into interdiction, but the cost of all drugs has remained fairly steady or fallen in the last few years. As the laws of supply and demand would suggest, the more successful interdiction becomes, the higher prices rise, but then the more people enter the market. Ultimately, as a study by Nobel Prize-winner Milton Friedman showed, the ever-larger number of traffickers brings prices back down. About the only time interdiction "worked," briefly, was when President Nixon had every vehicle at the Mexican border searched for a short period in the late '60s or early '70s. Besides shutting down commerce between the two nations and precipitating an international embarrassment, a sociologist who studied the current drug scene in Southern California wrote a book concluding that the brief scarcity of marijuana caused hard drugs such as speed and cocaine to quickly become much more popular among novelty seekers and polydrug abusers.

Dole - Let Them Go Homeless

According to a May 21 story titled "Dole hits Clinton, backs drug test for welfare mothers":
FOND DU LAC, Wis, (Reuter) - Republican presidential challenger Bob Dole fired new salvos Tuesday in his battle with President Clinton over welfare reform, advocating that mothers on welfare get tested for drugs or lose cash payments.

[End excerpt - complete text available]

as Portland NORML reported April 18, the federal government's own statistics show that 74 percent of cannabis- and other illegal-drug-consumers are employed, compared to just 63 percent of the general population, Dole's proposal would obviously do nothing but exacerbate class warfare and misdirect scarce revenue away from those who need it most. (How does the saying go? Some Republicans always charge that social programs are unworkable, and then do everything they can to make them so?) To the extent that unemployed people have a problem with illegal drugs, federal statistics show their problem is disproportionately small. If public officials would adequately fund voluntary drug-rehabilitation programs, many if not most people rich, poor and in between with drug problems could and would seek help. Making welfare clients homeless because of an invasive and inexact urine-test does not seem like a recipe for social progress.

Why do cannabis and other illegal-drug consumers work more than others? It's not clear; some credible research is obviously in order. But one suspects Adam Smith's "invisible hand" is at work. DARE is right - Drugs Are Really Expensive, and people with a fondness for occasional recreational drug use likely work harder in order to afford the added expense. (Although there are anecdotal reports about people using meth on the job, there is no evidence that illegal-drug consumers use drugs at work any more than people who drink alcohol do, and considerable evidence that such workers, particularly cannabis consumers, make better-than-average employees. See for example the Scientific American article "Test Negative," from March 1990, posted in Portland NORML's Web pages at

Los Angeles Judge Spann Suggests Reform

According to a Tuesday, May 21 story in the Los Angeles Times:

Breakdown Behind Bars: Turbulent Times in L.A. County Jails - Reforms, Funds Urged to Ease Crowding

.... Acknowledging that Los Angeles County's jails are in a state of crisis, public officials called Monday for sweeping reforms and an infusion of funds to help keep convicted inmates locked up longer and to help ease racial tensions behind bars.

The statements came in response to an ongoing series in The Times on escalating problems in the nation's largest jail system, including the early release of tens of thousands of inmates at an unprecedented pace. ....

"The credibility of our justice system is at stake," County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said in an interview. "But just talking about it and beating our breasts is not going to do the job."

.... The supervisor ... suggested that District Attorney Gil Garcetti use discretion in filing "three strikes" cases, which discourage plea bargains and keep more high-stakes felony suspects in jail awaiting trial.

Municipal Judge Richard E. Spann, chairman of the county Municipal Court judge's association, called on Block to dedicate up to 5,000 jail beds for inmates convicted of misdemeanors, in part by releasing low-level felony drug defendants who have not yet gone to trial. ...

[Sheriff] Block on Monday agreed that there is "a crisis" in the jail system as a result of early release of prisoners who commit violent crimes. ....

[End excerpts]

Judge Hatter Continues Protest Of US Sentencing Laws

Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, May 14, 1996:

U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter granted another delay in the sentencing of a Pacoima crack dealer on Monday, continuing a protest against federal sentencing laws.

Hatter, a vocal critic of federal laws that set required prison terms for some defendants, has delayed sentencing Bobbie Marshall to a required nine years in prison since he was convicted in 1990 for possessing 53 grams of crack cocaine. "I refuse to be part of what I believe to be an injustice," Hatter said.

Hatter has repeatedly delayed sentencing Marshall, stating that the sentence is too severe.

[End quote]

From Prison, Philadelphia Ex-Cops Call Offenses Routine

from the ACLU News, May 14, 1996

PHILADELPHIA -- In a front-page copywritten report, The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday detailed the stories of three police officers involved in the biggest police scandal in Philadelphia's history.

All three officers readily admit that they committed serious misdeeds in stealing an estimated $100,000 from suspected drug dealers. the Inquirer said. But they also say that much of their illegal activity - including perjury and fabricating evidence - was part of the system that police everywhere use in the war on drugs.

"It's the system, they say - they only did what they believed their commanders, politicians and yes - you the public wanted," Inquirer reporter Mark Fazlollah wrote. He quoted one of the former officers, John Baird: "We didn't own and operate the system. We didn't invent it. We were just some of the many thousands of custodians. We inherited it."

The ex-officers made a series of serious allegations, the Inquirer said, including:

-- Hundreds of arrests were "bad." Baird told the Inquirer that he never saw a legal drug arrest.

-- Groups of black youths hanging out on corners were routinely searched illegally. When drugs were found, the Inquirer said, police reports were fabricated to indicate that a drug sale had been witnessed.

David Rudovsky, a lawyer who is leading negotiations between city officials and civil rights groups - and a member of the ACLU National Board - told the Inquirer that what the ex-officers have said "reflects a pattern that we have seen independently."

The Philadelphia Inquirer can be found on the Web at For general information about the ACLU, write to



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