------------------------------------------------------------------- Tying Physicians' Hands (A Staff Editorial In The Waco, Texas 'Tribune-Herald' Opposes Congressional Efforts To Nullify Oregon's Unique Assisted Suicide Law) Date: Sun, 2 Aug 1998 23:48:25 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Editorial: Tying Physicians' Hands Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Polly Wilmoth (http://www.actiononpain.org) Source: Waco Tribune-Herald Section: Editorial, Opinion Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Sun, 2 Aug 1998 Author: John Young, Opinion page editor Note: John Young's column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. TYING PHYSICIANS' HANDS Congress Shouldn't Meddle On Calls To Ease Dying People's Pain Medical doctors need to make decisions about medical treatment, not politicians. This is especially true when doctors are caring for terminally ill patients who are suffering unbelievable pain. Unfortunately, the Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act would require the Drug Enforcement Administration to second-guess doctors when they prescribe drugs to relieve the intractable pain of dying patients. The bill would be a leap backward. What is needed is to remove second-guessing bureaucrats who interfere with doctor-patient relationships. The bill is designed to prevent doctor-assisted suicides by requiring that DEA agents revoke the DEA licenses of doctors whose prescriptions assist in a patient's death. The bill may play well on the campaign trail, but it should be rejected for several reasons. For starters, the Supreme Court ruled last year that the issue of doctor-assisted suicides should be left to the states, not the federal government. That appears to be a reasonable decision. This bill, sponsored by Republicans Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois and Sen. Don Nickels of Oklahoma, is a way to get around the Supreme Court decision and place the doctor-assisted suicide issue back among Washington politicians and bureaucrats. The citizens and their elected representatives in the various states should be in the best position to tackle this difficult issue. Another, perhaps more pressing, reason to oppose this bill is the chilling effect it will have on physicians who are asked by their terminally ill patients for relief from unbearable pain. Under the proposed Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act, doctors who administer drugs to help relieve the suffering of a dying patient know they will be second-guessed by federal agents if the patient dies, which is inevitiable since the patients on death's door most likely need relief from agonizing pain. This ill-conceived bill would be a special setback for terminally ill Texans because the Lone Star state has been in the forefront in the United States in authorizing doctors licensed by the Board of Medical Examiners to administer controlled and dangerous drugs to help relieve patients' suffering. It's called the Intractable Pain Act. Just as doctors and health-care providers are learning more about easing the last days of dying patients, this bill would be a tragic setback. People deserve all assistance possible to leave this life with dignity, which is why the Congress should reject the Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Praise And Pillory (A Staff Editorial In The Long Beach, California 'Press-Telegram' Criticizes The Recent Decision By Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald That Marvin Chavez, The Founder Of The Orange County Cannabis Co-Op, Cannot Use Proposition 215 As A Defense In His Trial On Charges Of Selling Marijuana) Date: Sat, 08 Aug 1998 23:43:03 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CA: Editorial: Praise And Pillory Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: FilmMakerZ@aol.com Pubdate: Sun, 2 Aug 1998 Source: Press-Telegram (CA) Contact: email@example.com. Website: http://www.ptconnect.com/ EDITORIAL: PRAISE AND PILLORY Rx: Marijuana Judges have latitude to interpret the law, justifiably. But it is hard to fathom, much less justify, the recent decision by an Orange County Superior Court Judge, Robert Fitzgerald, that Marvin Chavez, who founded the Orange County Cannabis Co-Op, cannot use Proposition 215 as a defense in his trial on charges of selling marijuana. It is perfectly obvious that Chavez was selling marijuana for medicinal purposes, which California voters approved when they voted for 215. In fact, undercover police say they used a fake letter from a doctor when they tricked Chavez into selling them some marijuana. Beyond that, the judge approved a prosecutor's request for access to Chavez' files to check out doctors' notes from others who have bought marijuana, ostensibly for medicinal use. The Orange County D.A., Carl Armbrust, argues that 215 doesn't authorize sales, or even sales that are passed off as donations, therefore Chavez was breaking the law even if he provided marijuana only for medical purposes. That theory is a stretch, but not as much of a stretch as arguing that Chavez can't use 215 in his defense. Let's hope Chavez wins on appeal. We'll be surprised if he doesn't.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana Arrests Up For Sixth Straight Year As District Attorneys Attack Medical Marijuana Clubs - Lungren Calls For More Of The Same (A News Release From California NORML Says Newly Released Figures From The Bureau Of Criminal Statistics Show There Were 57,667 Marijuana Arrests In California In 1997, Up From 56,956 In 1996, And California Has Spent More Money Trying To Persecute Medical Marijuana Patients Than Trying To Implement Proposition 215) Date: Sun, 2 Aug 1998 21:18:26 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dale Gieringer) Subject: DPFCA: Cal MJ Arrests Up Again Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ -California NORML Press Release Aug. 2, 1998 - Marijuana Arrests Up For 6th Straight Year as D.A.s Attack Medical Marijuana Clubs, Lungren Calls for More of the Same The number of marijuana arrests in California increased again in 1997 despite the passage of Proposition 215 according to newly released figures from the Bureau of Criminal Statistics, The data show 57,667 marijuana arrests in 1997, up from 56,956 in 1996, conclusively refuting claims by Attorney General Lungren that Prop. 215 has effectively legalized marijuana. The new data come in the wake of a wave of arrests and prosecutions of medical marijuana patients and providers around the state in a crackdown by anti-215 D.A.s led by Attorney General Lungren. * In Orange county, patient David Herrick was sentenced to 4 years in prison for supplying less than an ounce of marijuana to patients of the Orange County Cannabis Co-Op. Judge William Froeberg instructed the jury to ignore Prop. 215 and the medical benefits of marijuana. Herrick's sentence will cost taxpayers $25,000 per year for less than $100 of pot. * In a related case, Orange County Cannabis Co-Op Director Marvin Chavez, who suffers a degenerative spinal disease, faces a possible 12-year sentence for distributing medical marijuana. Judge Robert Fitzgerald has ruled that Chavez can not claim protection under Prop.215 and has ordered the club's patient records to be turned over to prosecutors. Chavez's trial and jury selection are set to begin on August 3, 8:30 a.m. at the Orange County Central Courthouse, 700 Civic Center Drive West, Division 39, 10th floor in Santa Ana. * In San Diego, patient Steven McWilliams and Dion Markgraaff are charged with growing pot for patients of a now-defunct San Diego club. * In San Jose, Santa Clara Medical Cannabis Center director Peter Baez faces felony charges for distributing marijuana. * In the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, five medical marijuana clubs have been charged with contempt of court for violating a preliminary injunction by distributing medical marijuana. Hearings before Judge Charles Breyer are scheduled August 31, 1998, 2:30 p.m. at the S.F. Federal Building. * In San Bernardino county, disabled patient Gene Weeks was arrested for growing his own marijuana by sheriffs who told him that Prop. 215 "doesn't apply" because of federal law. * In Los Angeles, author/patient Peter McWilliams, patient Todd McCormick, and seven others have been indicted on federal charges of conspiring to manufacture medical marijuana for patients in Southern California. Under federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, the cost of their imprisonment alone could exceed $1 million. California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer argues that the government has spent more money trying to persecute medical marijuana patients than trying to implement Prop. 215. A proposed bill by Sen. John Vasconcellos to let counties and cities establish local medical marijuana distribution programs has been stalled under opposition from Lungren and Gov. Wilson. "Attorney General Lungren's war on medical marijuana shows he is more intent on creating crime than preventing it," argues Gieringer. "Not only has he ignored Prop. 215's mandate to establish a plan for "safe and affordable" distribution of medical marijuana, he is wasting taxpayers' money persecuting those who do so." Speaking in a gubernatorial debate last Friday, Lungren called for more anti-drug enforcement. In fact, California now has a record number of marijuana and other drug prisoners, and marijuana arrests have been increasing for six years in a row. Despite this, surveys show marijuana use had increased under Lungren's tenure as attorney general. The onslaught of arrests shows that California's war on marijuana is bankrupt, says California NORML. This August 10th marks the 85th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in California. Over this period, usage has increased from near-zero to millions of adults. Over the same time, there have been over 1,800,000 cannabis arrests, 1,000,000 of them felonies. In 1975, the legislature partially decriminalized marijuana, saving the state an estimated $100 million per year in enforcement costs. Since then, however, arrests have continued at half their preceding level. California NORML proposes a three-step program to reduce the costs of marijuana enforcement: (1) Implement a "safe and affordable" distribution system for medical marijuana as called for in Prop; 215; (2) Decriminalize personal use cultivation of marijuana by adults to reduce dependency on the illicit market, as in some Australian states; (3) Allow cities and counties to establish regulated zones where licensed cannabis clubs could provide cannabis to adults, as in Amsterdam. For more info, contact Dale Gieringer, Cal. NORML: (415) 563-5858. *** Dale Gieringer (415) 563-5858 // email@example.com 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114
------------------------------------------------------------------- Tough Laws Create 'Recipe For Disaster' ('The Oakland Tribune' Says The Parolee Recidivism Rate In California Is The Highest In The Nation, A By Product Of The Explosion In California's Prison Population Caused Largely By Tough Anti-Drug And Three-Strikes Sentencing Laws Introduced Since The 1980s) Date: Sun, 2 Aug 1998 23:42:30 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CA: "Tough Laws Create 'Recipe For Disaster'" Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Jerry Sutliff Pubdate: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 Source: Oakland Tribune Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Section: front page Author: Vince Beiser, Staff Writer TOUGH LAWS CREATE 'RECIPE FOR DISASTER' Parolee Recidivism Rate (In Calif.) Highest In Nation Each of the many times Harry Ismail Taylor was paroled from prison in the past 13 years, he knew he wouldn't last long outside. Released with only the standard $200 and a bus ticket home, still lacking job skills, poorly educated and addicted to the cocaine that got him imprisoned in the first place, Taylor would drift naturally back to his old neighborhood in San Francisco's Fillmore district and start getting high again. Sooner or later, his parole officer would catch him and 'revoke' Taylor back behind bars. "I felt like a boomerang going back and forth," said Taylor, now 33 and free, once again, on parole. The number of parolees is at an all-time high and continues to rise, a by product of the explosion in California's prison population caused largely by tough anti-drug and "three strikes" sentencing laws introduced since the 1980s. There are more than 108,000 men and women on state parole, more than four times the total in 1984. But as the number of parolees has skyrocketed, the resources to help keep them from winding up back in prison -from parole agents to drug rehabilitation programs - have not kept pace. Partly as a result, California has the worst rate of recidivism, or parolees being sent back behind bars, in the country. Two out of three California parolees become recidivists, more than double the rates in Texas and New York. Incarcerating each one costs more than $20,000 a year. "High parole revocation rates," sums up a recent report by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, "present an enormous waste of California Department of Corrections' resources." According to the state Department of Corrections, 10 per cent of parolees are homeless, half are illiterate and 85 per cent have substance abuse problems. Only about 10 per-cent, however, receive pre-release services to get them ready for the outside. Small wonder that many end up involved with drugs again, or commit other crimes, say experts. Awareness is slowly growing that spending money on programs to help parolees make it on the outside can help pre-vent the much higher costs of throwing them back in jail. Since the early 1990s, the Department of Corrections has launched a series of small programs aimed specifically at preventing parole failure. Harry Ismail Taylor is currently learning basic reading and mathematics skills through one such program, a competent literacy project designed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, a nonprofit group. "I really got tired of the drugs," said Taylor, sitting in the computer lab in a downtown San Francisco drug rehabilitation and social services center. Now clean and sober, he is aiming to study psychology at City College. The Office of Education's literacy programs, and a drug rehabilitation program it designed, serve thousands of parolees across the state every year. Such programs have been found to reduce recidivism. But the total budget for such anti-parole failure programs is currently $7.9 million - less than $75 per parolee. The state Legislature is seeking to as much as double the funding for those programs. Their fate remains uncertain, however, with the state budget still in limbo. Another $5 million to $6 million dollars are spent every year on other support services for parolees, such as bus passes or temporary shelter. Those services are usually coordinated by parole agents, who are often too overworked to do much more than monitor whether their charges are vio-Latin their parole conditions. Twenty years ago, a typical parole agent was tasked with supervising 45 parolees. Today, the ratio is about 80 parolees per agent. "Parole officers used to try to at least get their parolees on welfare, if there was nothing else availab]e, but now that's drying up too," said Craig Cornett, a spokesperson for the Legislative Analyst's Office in Sacramento. "So you end up with all these guys with few marketable skills, drug habits and nowhere to turn out on the streets. It's a recipe for disaster.'
------------------------------------------------------------------- Feds Jail Popular Author/Patient - Action Alert Updates (The Media Awareness Project Posts A Collection Of New And Old Information About The Federal Persecution Of Peter McWilliams And Urges You To Write Letters On His Behalf) Date: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 09:54:54 -0400 To: email@example.com From: Richard Lake (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: US: Feds Jail Popular Author/Patient - ACTION ALERT UPDATES NOTE: The following has been compiled from a number of sources for forwarding to this list/usenet group. Please forgive us if some items have been posted previously. *** ABOUT AUTHOR PETER McWILLIAMS McWilliams has been a leading advocate of medical marijuana for many years, is a nationally acclaimed author of many books including the best selling "Life 101" and "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do." The last time the feds had a run in with McWilliams was shortly after he published a full page ad in Variety last December criticizing the DEA. See: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v97.n412.a02.html The government doesn't like people who disagree with them and McWilliams may be their latest victim. As a result of marijuana laws a seemingly harmless individual with a solid reputation is being held on an exorbitant bail and is being denied much needed medication. This is a life threatening situation. This would be an unlikely event in Communist China and seems unconscionable, even unbelievable, in the United States. Please write a letter to the newspapers and/or take other actions suggested. Express your views on the treatment of McWilliams. Mr McWilliams' lawyer, Harland Braun, said the indictment was part of a government campaign to discredit medical marijuana advocates. In addition to McWilliams, those named in Thursday's superseding indictment included David Richards, 25, of Lancaster; Andrew Scott Hass, 34, of Malibu and Bellingham, Wash.; Christopher Carrington, 22, of Manhattan Beach; Greg Collier, 25, of Van Nuys and Bellingham, Wash. Also, Todd McCormick, 27, Kirill Dyjine, 33, Aleksandra Evanguelidi, 24, and Renee Boje, 28, all of Los Angeles. They are alleged to have conspired to sell marijuana to the Los Angeles Cannabis Buyer's Club. Scott Imler, executive director of the Buyer's Club, said Thursday that his organization has never purchased marijuana from outside sources. "We grow everything here," he added. EDITOR'S NOTE: Scott Imler has since denied saying "We grow everything here" to the television media in Los Angeles. He added that the only way the LA CBC can get it's medical marijuana is if some one grows it and is willing to sell the CBC some of their harvest. They do prefer if the marijuana they buy is grown by patients. *** From: Tom O'Connell, MD (email@example.com) Subject: DPFCA: Peter McWilliams: issues & update Peter McWilliams, well known author, who addressed the Libertarian Convention on July 4th, publicly announced the following in that speech: * In 1996. he was diagnosed as having AIDS complicated by non-Hodgkin lymphoma. * For the past 28 months, he has been on a complex treatment regimen of protease inhibitors, oral agents which are difficult to take because of the nausea they produce. * Use of smoked marijuana has controlled his nausea, his protease inhibitor therapy has kept the AIDS from progressing and left him feeling well. McWilliams credits mj with saving his life, a not uncommon belief in patients it has helped. As reported in the LAT on July 24th, McWilliams was arrested and held in federal custody. The charge is conspiracy to grow large amounts of marijuana for sale. His bail was set at $250,000. McWilliams has been held in the: >>Metropolitan Detention Center Prisoner #13835-112 P.O. Box 1500 Los Angeles, CA 90053 Tel. (213) 485-0439) A communication from him dated the 28th and posted on this list the same day alleged that he had not been allowed to continue his medications in custody. Conversation with Todd McCormick (out from the same Center on bail) confirms that, but Todd, whose access is limited, said he understood that Peter was allowed to resume his medicine on Monday. He wasn't sure if all the medicines had been resumed in their previous dosage. I discussed this with an infectious disease specialist; current thinking on the management of patients who have exhibited a good response to protease inhibitors is that scrupulous observation of schedule and dosage is critical. Cessation of all agents for no compelling medical reason, (such as emergency surgery which could interrupt the ability to take oral medications), while undesirable, is probably without risk if it's only for a week or two. What would be risky is sporadic or irregular resumption, or starting back on fewer agents. In any event, prevention of McWilliams from continuing protease inhibitors while in custody is a step beyond preventing his use of marijuana; above all it's a medical decision because it needlessly puts him at risk. (I'm not aware of what specific international conventions this practice violates, but there must be some; for example, the Nurenberg Convention forbids any use of prisoners for research on the theory that "informed consent" is impossible while incarcerated). I set out to speak with the physician on scene at the MDC; his name (I learned eventually) is Dr. Sinavsky; he refused to speak with me on the grounds that he didn't know who I was- he referred me to the lawyer who turned out to be on vacation. I finally reached an assistant warden (Linda Thomas) who eventually returned my call and refused to disclose any substantive information, claiming that any answers to my questions would have to come from McWilliams' lawyer. I have since relayed all of this to the LA Times and the SF Chronicle and hope they will investigate. Anyone reading this who is as disturbed as I am is urged to make whatever use of this information the see fit. In the meantime, as this is typed, a bail reduction hearing is taking place; it could result in McWilliams' speedy release, partially solving his immediate medical problem. Even so, it won't solve the problem posed by a punitive and brutal government insisting that arbitrary inhumane treatment of alleged "drug criminals" is justified by their own best interests. This strategy of incarcerating true medical mj users like McCormick and McWilliams, then insisting they undergo urine testing as a condition of bail is diabolical. It places the government is a position to physically punish advocacy and also allows them to anticipate the findings of the IOM study they have commissioned advise on this issue, a "study" McCzar refers to when he falsely promises to "let science decide" if marijuana could possibly be medicinal. Tom O'Connell, MD *** OUTCOME OF HEARING *** From: firstname.lastname@example.org (ann mccormick) Date: Sat, Aug 1, 1998, 1:09am *** Federal Prosecutor, Fernando Aenile-Rocha LIES To Judge About AIDS Patient, Peter McWilliams' In-Prison Medical Treatment *** JUDGE DENIES MOTION TO REDUCE BAIL *** JULY 31, 1998 / LOS ANGELES, CA: At an emergency hearing to determine if AIDS-cancer patient Peter McWilliams should be immediately released from federal custody on medical marijuana charges, federal prosecutor Fernando Aenlle-Rocha told the judge, "Mr. McWilliams has received his full complement of AIDS medications since July 24, 1998, his second day in custody." In fact, as the prescription bottle supplied by the federal government's in-prison pharmacy clearly reveals, McWilliams was not given the 3rd drug in the 3-drug combination AIDS therapy until July 26, 1998. "Prosecutor Fernando Aenlle-Rocha looked the judge right in the eye and in somber, precise, governmental tones lied to the judge," said McWilliams after the hearing. "That the government failed to provide me with AIDS medications for 4 days is appalling. That the government would lie about that fact in order to keep me in custody is reprehensible." The judge believed prosecutor Fernando Aenlle-Rocha over McWilliams and remanded McWilliams back into federal custody. The earliest McWilliams could possibly be released is Monday, August 3, 1998. Prosecutor Fernando Aenlle-Rocha also misrepresented the prescription medication Trazadone, a major antidepressant, as mearly, "A sleeping pill," therefore not important to McWilliams' AIDS treatment. "People with AIDS walk a tight rope over the abyss of depression," said McWilliams. "Prosecutor Fernando Aenlle-Rocha is obviously too young to have experienced life-threatening illness first-hand. Either that, or someone slipped his compassion a sleeping pill." McWilliams had praise and gratitude for the Los Angeles Chapter of the ACLU rising in his defense. "Now that reason has failed, I hope that the ACLU will move ahead on the legal front as soon as possible," said McWilliams. "The shoddy medical treatment in federal lock-up is nothing short of the murder by bureaucracy." Although McWilliams now has his AIDS medications, he has not been given an effective anti-nausea medication, so keeping the life-saving drugs down is difficult. McWilliams also has not been given his antidepressants at the prescribed dosages since his incarceration, a situation that continues to this day. *** Contact Numbers: · Bruce Margolin........310-652-0991 · Todd McCormick........213-650-4906 · Prelude Press.........213-650-9571 x125 *** Mr. Margolin is Peter's attorney *** forwarded from the Media Awareness Project (www.mapinc.org) *** Mr. Steve Markoff has launched an effort to raise bail for Peter McWilliams and secure his release so that he can be freed from the clutches of a ruthless federal government that is refusing to allow him much needed medication. If you can help in providing money for this purpose please contact Steve Markoff. The funds can be in the form of a donation to the defense fund or a loan that will be repaid upon trial completion. Mr Steve C. Markoff A-MARK 100 Wilshire Blvd 3rd Floor Santa Monica, CA 90401 Lisa Sutherland, Executive Secretary 310 587 1470 *** Peter McWilliams says he is being denied AIDS & cancer medication while being held in Federal custody. According to experts in AIDS treatment, skipping the administration of protease inhibitors and other anti-viral agents for a few days can result in untreatable lethal mutations of the virus. On July 4, 1998 Peter McWilliams appeared as a keynote speaker for the Libertarian convention broadcast nationwide on C-Span. McWilliams delivered a scathing indictment of government misconduct regarding medical marijuana. McWilliams has been an outspoken opponent of Federal drug policy for several years with his books and many articles on the subject. It appears that McWilliams is right when he claims "The Federal Government has arrested me to silence me. But must it attempt to murder me as well?" This reminds me of the way the Soviet Union used to treat their intelligentsia by throwing them into gulags and mental institutions for criticizing the regime. The man says he is not getting lifesaving medication, so don't dally. It doesn't take much of a break in the medication schedule to send an AIDS patient into a lethal tailspin. Don't let the government get away with murdering McWilliams. The arrest and charges against McWilliams smacks of an overt attempt to silence an effective opponent of Reefer Madness drug policies. The DEA isn't fooling around because the charges against McWilliams carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life without parole. Here's the mean time served for various offenses in California: Murder 1st 17 years Murder 2nd 10 years Manslaughter 4 years Assault w/deadly weapon 2.3 years Rape 4 years Child Molesting 3.2 years Kidnapping 4.5 years Controlled Substance Sales 2 years Controlled Substance Mfg 2.5 Years Matijuana Sales 1.5 Years Burglary 1st 2.5 Years Vehicle Theft 1.5 Years Think about that for a moment. These nefarious narcs are trying to put a writer away for 10 years hard time for being involved with MEDICAL marijuana if anything at all. There's no parole in the Federal system, so these vicious narcs mean to wreck McWilliams for life. The current treatment McWilliams is getting in Federal custody indicates intentional murder! Below are some issues McWilliams raises about the charges that have been trumped up against him. I hope that your organization will investigate McWilliams's claims to see if there is any truth to them. Redford Givens *** Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 15:02:35 -0700 United States of America vs. Peter McWilliams *** (Comments From Peter McWilliams In Federal Custody) It is difficult to briefly respond to a nine-count, 41-Page, Federal Grand Jury Indictment containing 182 "overt acts", but I shall do my best. As several readings of the Indictment has my mind swimming with numbers, I shall use numbers to respond: 1. I have never sold a drug in my life. I have never asked or authorized anyone to sell a drug. I have never profited from any drug deal, ever. 2. I use medical marijuana to treat the nausea caused by my AIDS medications. If I do not keep the medications down, I will not live. Medical marijuana, for me, is a matter of life and death. 3. I had not used marijuana or any other illegal drug for decades prior to my March, 1996 diagnosis of AIDS and cancer (Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). 4. I am a 49-year-old (as of August 5th) writer and publisher with more than 30 books to my credit and 5 appearances on the New York Times Bestseller List. Titles include How to Survive the Loss of a Love, Hypericum & Depression, How to Heal Depression, You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought, DO IT, Life 101, and Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do (a book openly critical of the drug war and the DEA). This is how I make my living. (See http://www.McWilliams.com) 5. I paid Todd McCorrmick to write a book, not to grow and sell medical marijuana. I admitted to being the money behind the Bel Air "medical marijuana mansion" (as the press dubbed it) the same day Sheriff Block stated at a press conference in July, 1997 as he announced Todd McCorrmick's arrest, "He bought the mansion with drug money!" 6. It was because I came forth with the truth so quickly in July, 1997 that I find myself in Federal custody in July, 1998. The DEA concluded I was a "Drug King Pin" and then worked backwards to prove itself right. It has used discarded gossamer wings to do so. 7. Todd McCorrmick's book, How to Grow Medical Marijuana, would have been on-line this week, had it not been for my arrest on July 23, 1998. 8. On December 17, 1997, 9 DEA and IRS agents came into my home, handcuffed me, went through every piece of paper I own, and took away my computer containing almost 2 years worth of work on medical marijuana. William F. Buckley Jr. said of this in his column, "It is as though they carried off the printing presses of the New York Times." 9. I am a vocal and occasionally effective proponent of medical marijuana and that is why I am in jail. I am the publisher of The Medical Marijuana Magazine Online (http://www.marijuanamagazine.com) and had discussed medical marijuana on ABC, CNN, MSNBC, CBS Radio Network, TIME, Los Angeles Times, and dozens of others. I have testified before The National Academy of Sciences and before Senator John Vasconcellos' 1998 Medical Marijuana Committee. 10. In my address before The Libertarian National Convention on July 4, 1998, my plea was for medical marijuana to be available to all who need it. 11. At no time did I violate Proposition 215, now The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, or better, California Law, 11362.5. This is not The United States of America vs. Peter McWilliams; it is The United States of America vs. The People of California, whose political will is being trampled-on by the Federal Government. 12. California Attorney General Dan Lungren has not upheld his oath of office to defend the laws and the citizens of California against all comers--including the Federal Government. Indeed, as the Orange County Register editorialized recently, Lungren "Aided and abetted" the federal forces. 13. While in federal custody, I was denied my AIDS medication--which must be taken without fail six-times-a-day, a regimen I have followed scrupulously for 28 months--for more than 5 days. Already, a mutation of the AIDS virus maybe replicating within my body, one that science cannot treat, one that may kill me. In other words, my government has already taken my life for the crime of treating my life-threatening illness--a treatment approved by my 4 physicians and by 56.4% of the California Electorate. 14. Yes, I attempted to cultivate my own medical marijuana, in my own home, for my own use, using seeds purchased from a staff member of The Los Angeles Cannabis Buyers Club. Immediately after Todd McCorrmick's arrest in July, 1997--the first Federal California medical marijuana arrest since the passage of Proposition 215 eight months earlier--I "caused the dismantling of the indoor marijuana grow" and donated "grow-lights and other equipment to The Los Angeles Cannabis Buyers Club." (Quotes from The Indictment) 15. In other words, the moment the Federal Government actually did something about medical marijuana in California, I was out of the growing business--the first such attempt in my life--and I have not returned. I donated (not sold) all my equipment to the only seemingly federally approved marijuana grow operation in California--The Los Angeles Cannabis Buyers Club, now The Los Angeles Cannabis Cultivators Club. The club is still in business, still using my lights, and harvesting more marijuana per month than I had ever attempted to grow in my life. 16. Any sales I planned were to be legal sales, through a non-profit organization I had established before Todd McCorrmick's arrest, The Medical Botanical Foundation. The foundation lies dormant--waiting for the Federal Government to come to its senses... waiting for the voters of California to tell Washington "We voted, and we mean it." Peter McWilliams In Federal Custody (with no bail-out in sight) July 28, 1998 *** PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE SPECIAL FOCUS ALERT No. 75 AND FUNDING APPEAL FOR PETER MCWILLIAMS ET AL. ITEM ONE - FUNDING Mr. Steve Markoff has launched an effort to raise bail for Peter McWilliams and secure his release so that he can be freed from the clutches of a ruthless federal government that is refusing to allow him much needed medication. If you can help in providing money for this purpose please contact Steve Markoff. The funds can be in the form of a donation to the defense fund or a loan that will be repaid upon trial completion. Mr Steve C. Markoff A-MARK 100 Wilshire Blvd 3rd Floor Santa Monica, CA 90401 Lisa Sutherland Executive Secretary 310 587 1470 ITEM TWO FOCUS ALERT - LETTERS OF SUPPORT As many of you know Peter McWilliams, Todd McCormick and six others have been arrested on charges relating to conspiracy to cultivate large amounts of marijuana for commercial sale, according to a federal grand jury indictment. According to Steve Markoff, McWilliams was crying and obviously under incredible stress as he is being held on $250,000 bail, and has been denied crucially needed medication. McWilliams suffers from AIDS, and cancer. It appears the federal government, either deliberately or through unconscionable negligence, is intentionally harming McWilliams by denying him medication. McWilliams has been a leading advocate of medical marijuana for many years is a nationally acclaimed author of many books including the best selling "Life 101" and "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do." The last time the feds had a run in with McWilliams was shortly after he published a full page ad in Variety last December criticizing the DEA. See: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v97.n412.a02.html The government doesn't like people who disagree with them and McWilliams may be their latest victim. As a result of marijuana laws a seemingly harmless individual with a solid reputation is being held on an exorbitant bail and is being denied much needed medication. This is a life threatening situation. This would be an unlikely event in Communist China and seems unconscionable, even unbelievable, in the United States. Please write a letter to the newspapers below and/or take the other actions suggested. Express your views on the treatment of McWilliams. WRITE A LETTER TODAY- LIVE IN A FREER WORLD TOMORROW Just DO it! *** PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID ( Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post your letters or report your action to the MAPTalk list if you are subscribed, or return a copy to this address by simply hitting REPLY to this FOCUS Alert and pasting your letter in or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org *** CONTACT INFO Please send your letters to all of these papers all of whom had articles on the McWilliams arrest: Los Angeles Times email@example.com Contra Costa Times firstname.lastname@example.org Antelope Valley Press email@example.com "EXTRA CREDIT" Call or write your Congressman or senator to express outrage at this treatment of a sick individual. Call or write Amnesty International and ask whether this qualifies as a human rights violation. Amnesty International USA General Address firstname.lastname@example.org *** ORIGINAL ARTICLES NOTE: Most articles were quite similar but we have provided additional URLS for those who wish to review them http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98.n621.a02.html http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98.n617.a02.html http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98.n612.a04.html McWilliams' full page ad in Variety can be viewed at: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v97.n412.a02.html PRIMARY LA Times Article Newshawk: Patrick Henry (email@example.com) Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Author: David Rosenzweig MEDICAL MARIJUANA ADVOCATES ACCUSED OF CULTIVATION FOR SALE [snip - ed.] *** Dear Editor: Re: MEDICAL MARIJUANA ADVOCATES ACCUSED OF CULTIVATION FOR SALE (LAT 7/24) Peter McWilliams is the latest victim of a control mad government that can't stand scrutiny or criticism of its immoral, illogical, degenerate, failed, and wildly expensive "War on Drugs." Not only has McWilliams been indicted for what appears to be the "heinous crime" of growing medicine for sick people but this nationally famous author is being held on $250,000 bail as if he were likely to flee the country. To say I am ashamed of my government doesn't begin convey my feelings. To add insult to injury, McWilliams is being denied medication. He is an AIDS and cancer patient, and withholding this medication for any serious length of time amounts to a death sentence for this "dangerous criminal." I guess we have come full circle. The country that used to be proud of its freedom and openness now puts a death sentence on an individual without trial. Communist China is looking better and Drug Czar McCaffrey is looking more sinister and wicked all the time. Mark Greer Executive Director DrugSense WRITE AWAY! *** The following is a list of additional email addresses to which Letters to the Editor could be sent. You can copy and paste these addresses directly into the BCC address field of email program, place your own address in the TO field, and thereby send a letter that appears to be only sent to only the receiver. "Bakersfield Californian" (email@example.com), "Bay Area Reporter (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Contra Costa Times (CA)" (email@example.com), "Davis Enterprise (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Feather River Canyon News (CA)" (email@example.com), "Goleta Valley Voice (California)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Half Moon Bay Review (CA)" (email@example.com), "KNBC - MSNBC affiliate in Los Angeles" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "LA Weekly (California)" (email@example.com), "Los Altos Town Crier (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Los Angeles Downtown News (CA)" (email@example.com), "Los Angeles Times (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Los Gatos Weekly-Times (CA)" (email@example.com), "Monterey County Herald (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "NewTimes (CA)" (email@example.com), "Orange County Register (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Palo Alto Weekly (California)" (email@example.com), "Press Democrat, The (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Redding Record Searchlight (CA)" (email@example.com), "San Diego Mission Times Courier (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "San Diego Union Tribune (CA)" (email@example.com), "San Francisco Chronicle (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "San Francisco Examiner (CA)" (email@example.com), "San Jose Mercury News (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune (CA)" (email@example.com), "San Mateo County Times (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Santa Barbara News Press (CA)" (email@example.com), "Saratoga News (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Stockton Record (CA)" (email@example.com), "Vacaville Reporter (CA)" (letters@TheReporter.com), "Ventura County Star (CA)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Whittier Daily News (CA)" (email@example.com), "Whole Earth Review (California)" (firstname.lastname@example.org), "Wired Magazine (California)" (email@example.com) *** Dear Friends, We would like to encourage everyone to write to Peter while he is in prison to help keep his spirits up, his address information is below. It is clear that the government is trying to break his spirit for so openly and vocally opposing their policies. Listen to Peter's speech at the Libertarian convention last July 4th: "Peace on Drugs - A New Paradigm for Fighting the Drug War" http://www.aennet.com/libertarian/libertarian convention.htm Peter was arrested 19 days later, he has been in prison since. Prisoner #13835-112 P.O. Box 1500 Los Angeles, CA 90053 PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE *** Forwarded to this list/usenet group by: Richard Lake Senior Editor; MAPnews, MAPnews-Digest and DrugNews-Digest email: rlake@MAPinc.org http://www.DrugSense.org/drugnews/ We also sponsor an interactive chat room for activists. The above has been and will continue to be a focus of the discussions. Point your web browser to: http://www.mapinc.org/chat/ and join the discussion. The chat starts at about 9:00 p.m on Saturday and Sunday night Eastern time. Folks drop in and leave as their time allows over about a three hour period. No special software required.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Los Angeles Case Raises Concerns About Wiretaps (An Update In 'The Los Angeles Times' About Repercussions From The Discovery That Federal Prohibition Agents For Years Have Given 'Hand Offs' To Los Angeles Prohibition Agents About Illegal Drug Offenders They Have Gathered From Illegal Wiretaps)From: "W.H.E.N. - Bob Owen - Olympia" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "-News" (email@example.com) Subject: Los Angeles Case Raises Concerns About Wiretaps Date: Sat, 1 Aug 1998 20:21:27 -0700 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org August 2, 1998 LA Times Los Angeles Case Raises Concerns About Wiretaps OS ANGELES -- The official report of Ramiro Delaherran's arrest last December seems to be a straightforward account of some very lucky police work: Los Angeles County sheriff's officers stopped him because he made an abrupt left turn without using his signal in a suburb east of Los Angeles. Then they happened to find that the red Ford Thunderbird he was driving was loaded with 150 kilograms of cocaine. But as his case dragged through the Los Angeles legal system, Delaherran, 28, insisted he had not driven erratically at all. His lawyer's suspicions were raised when the prosecutor refused to turn over the police dispatcher's tape, made when the arrest was radioed in. And in June, the authorities disappeared from Delaherran's life just as mysteriously as they appeared in his rear-view mirror six months before, allowing his case to be dismissed when the tape was not produced. Delaherran did not get far: Federal authorities took over the case and arrested him July 13; their case is pending. The federal complaint against Delaherran makes clear that it was not his driving that initially made officers suspicious; rather, it was a long-running wiretap investigation of a drug ring by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that brought him to the attention of the local authorities. Delaherran was caught up in what is called a "hand-off," where investigators who hear of drug activity while listening to a wiretapped conversation pass that information to a second set of officers without saying where it came from. Those officers, who may even be from a different law-enforcement agency, are expected to establish "independent probable cause" for an arrest. The existence of the wiretap and the tip that it generated are rarely disclosed to the defense. The practice came to light for the first time in March, when a state judge, Gregory Alarcon, ruled that prosecutors must turn over wiretap evidence in a 1996 case involving the arrests of three men and the seizure of 190 kilograms of cocaine. Philip DeMassa, a lawyer for one of the three men, said the wiretap evidence showed that his client, Lauro Gaxiola, was asleep the day of his arrest and was not involved in alleged drug transactions. Gil Garcetti, the Los Angeles County district attorney, acknowledged in June that such information had been withheld in 58 cases since 1993, and said his office would adopt an interim policy of notifying defendants when their cases involve wiretap surveillance. But the district attorney's office has also defended the procedure, saying that the office is entitled to withhold the information when doing so serves the public interest, and that judges who were informed of such evidence in previous cases did not require it to be disclosed. Further, one official said, defendants were notified in 27 cases when wiretaps were involved. "Everything we've done has been in good faith," said William Hodgman, who oversees the major narcotics division in the district attorney's office. "There's no conspiracy to deprive any defendant of what they lawfully should have." Concealing wiretap surveillance from defendants has been a common though relatively unknown practice in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities where drug trafficking is a problem. In hearings, Los Angeles officers who developed the practice with the district attorney's office in the mid-1980s have testified that the goal was to build a wall between the wiretap and the arrest so the surveillance could be used in continuing investigations. One officer testified in January that he conducted hand-off investigations "hundreds of times," with 10 percent to 15 percent of the cases involving wiretaps. But disclosure of the practice has drawn complaints from defense lawyers that it is a breach of defendants' due process and discovery rights, and has raised accusations of wiretapping-law abuses. Defense lawyers say concealed wiretaps preclude their seeking suppression of evidence by arguing that applications for the wiretaps were defective. DeMassa has charged that wiretap evidence originally withheld shows that his client is innocent. And defense lawyers cite federal and state law saying evidence produced as a result of a wiretap cannot be admitted in court unless the existence of the wiretap is disclosed. "It's a subterfuge," said Andrew Marc Stein, Delaherran's lawyer. "It is a material misrepresentation to the court, the public and the defendant. They're teaching police officers to lie by omission." The public defender's office has filed a demand for names of defendants whose cases originated with wiretaps, and a writ asking a judge to declare the practice unconstitutional. DeMassa and Stein said they might seek dismissal of their clients' cases based on claims of outrageous government conduct. In Delaherran's case, when his arrest occurred, federal officials were in the middle of a yearlong wiretap investigation that netted nearly 4 tons of cocaine, $15 million in drug proceeds and the indictment on July 10 of nine men, including an official in the Arellano Felix cartel of Tijuana, Mexico. Though federal authorities have not specified what role, if any, Delaherran had in the Felix operation, they said they had not wanted to jeopardize the broader investigation at the time of his arrest by having to disclose their wiretaps in federal court. So investigators passed the information to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which made the arrest of Delaherran and took the case to state court. If the judge on the case required disclosure of the wiretap, the federal authorities told state prosecutors, the case was to be dismissed. Defendants convicted without disclosure of the wiretap evidence against them face significant hurdles in seeking new trials. To succeed, defense lawyers must show that the wiretap applications were defective and the evidence derived from them prejudiced their cases.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Criminal Justice - Hoary Stories From California's State Prisons (An Editorial By John Jacobs, Political Editor Of Mcclatchy Newspapers, In 'The Orange County Register,' Says The Details That Have Emerged About Guard's Actions Against Inmates At Corcoran Prison Are Too Outrageous To Ignore - The Ultimate Question Is Whether The Wilson Administration, And To A Lesser Extent Attorney General Dan Lungren, Covered Up Or Whitewashed Allegations Of Serious Wrongdoing In The Department Of Corrections) From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: "MAPNews-posts (E-mail)" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: MN: US CA: Editorial: Criminal Justice: Hoary Stories from California"s State Prisons Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1998 00:15:47 -0500 Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W.Black Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Pubdate: Sat, 2 Aug 1998 Author: John Jacobs, Political Editor of McClatchy Newspapers CRIMINAL JUSTICE: HOARY STORIES FROM CALIFORNIA'S STATE PRISONS Sacramento - While he was chief of staff to Gov. George Deukmejian,Sacramento attorney Steve Merksamer said, in an oral history, he worried that a prison riot could start somewhere in California. Given the massive growth of prisons and the increase in prisoners incarcerated between 1983 and 1990, his was not an irrational fear. Luckily for Deukmejian, and indeed for California, no riot happened on his watch. It now appears, eight years later, that the Wilson administration has not been so fortunate. But in a twist, the riots have come not from the inmates but from some bad apples among correctional officers, men and women with guns and a license to shoot whose preparation for the job consists of a high school degree and six weeks of training. The ultimate question at hand, as raised in recent newspaper articles, in U.S. Department of Justice indictments of prison guards and in extensive and sometimes explosive legislative hearings in Sacramento last week, is whether the Wilson administration, and to a lesser extent Attorney General Dan Lungren, covered up or whitewashed allegations of serious wrongdoing in the Department of Corrections. No evidence has emerged to tie any coverups either to Wilson or Lungren, and both Wilson administration officials and Lungren heatedly deny any such thing. The Department of Corrections concedes there had been troublesome incidents, but maintains that it took appropriate disciplinary action against correctional officers who violated rules and procedures. But questions remain: Did they punish whistle-blowers and reward prison officials who contained the damage at Corcoran, described as the deadliest prison in America? Seven inmates were killed and 43 wounded over a sever-year period at a prison housing some of the state's most violent and incorrigible prisoners. Seven officers have been indicted for arranging gladiator-style fights between inmates. Other investigations are continuing into charges of racial beatings of inmates by guards, of guard-sanctioned rapes of inmates by other inmates and of other instances where guards may have used excessive and deadly force. There were serious problems in the prisons, especially at Corcoran, and these problems raised scant concern among top corrections officials, other than to protect their backsides. Investigation by local district attorneys were hampered by the refusal of guards to testify and by insistence that union representatives by present for all interviews. Others who witnessed improper behavior testified last week that they were never interviewed by the appropriate authorities or, if they were or if they went to the FBI, they were hounded, harassed and threatened by colleagues and superiors. If there was no coverup or white wash, there certainly appears to have been a concerted effort by some to sweep things under the rug. Prisons are bad places, inhabited by bad people. Correctional officers have a tough and often dirty job, although their union, which contributed some $1 million to Wilson and Lungren and more to many others over the years, has won them rich packages of pay and benefits. Their pay raises over the past decade far exceed those of other state workers, indicating that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association is the favorite union of a famously antiunion governor. Meanwhile, the public attitude most often appears to be: Put the bad guys away, do what you have to do and don't bother us with the details. But the details that have emerged from these articles and hearings are too outrageous to ignore. It is troubling that poorly trained prison guards can shoot and beat inmates with seeming impunity; that a rich and powerful union can successfully quash investigations through its members' refusal to cooperate; and that higherups in the Department of Corrections can apparently intimidate the whistle-blowers and ignore complaints of horrendous behavior until they are forced to acknowledge them. Corcoran is a safer place now than it was in the mid-1990s. And Cal Terhune, the new head of corrections, does seem to be making a serious effort to clean up the system. "The biggest mistake California government made." Terhune told The Sacramento Bee's, "was when the prison boom started, it didn't do one damn thing for internal affairs. There was a massive staff increase, a green staff. They made stupid mistakes, and there was no way to investigate them." In another meeting with the Bee, Lungren said, "If you ask me how to prevent it, you start on the front end, not the back end, and put more money into the prison system. Not just bricks and mortar, but recruitment and longer training. Six weeks is not sufficient. You need continuing education and better training of supervisors. It takes money." Lungren, as a conservative Republican, is thus in the anomalous position of advocating that we "throw money" at the problem. Alas, it will take far more than money to cure what ails California prisons.
------------------------------------------------------------------- 'Supermax' Prisons Typify US Attitudes On Crime (According To 'The Chicago Tribune,' The Minimum-Contact, 'Supermax' Prison Epitomized By The Federal 'ADX' Penitentiary In Florence, Colorado, Illustrates The Growing Popularity Of A Costly, Profound Reversal In American Attitudes - For Most Of This Century, Rehabilitation Was The Overarching Goal, But By 1980, The People Who Manufacture Consensus In America Enbraced Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, Removing Exercise Equipment, Barring Pell Grants For Inmates' Higher Education, And, Finally, Implementing Solitary Confinement Throughout Entire Prisons, Causing Severe Psychiatric Harm) Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 00:21:34 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CO: `Supermax' Prisons Typify U.S. Attitudes On Crime Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Marcus/Mermelstein Family (firstname.lastname@example.org) Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.chicago.tribune.com/ Pubdate: Sun, 2 Aug 1998 Author: Lisa Anderson, Chicago Tribune `SUPERMAX' PRISONS TYPIFY U.S. ATTITUDES ON CRIME FLORENCE, Colorado -- If, as some philosophers maintain, nothing tells more about a society than its treatment of prisoners, the proliferating supermaximum security prisons speak eloquently of the fears and attitudes about crime in American. This minimum-contact, so-called ``supermax'' concept is epitomized in the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence. Inmates call it the Alcatraz of the Rockies. Advocates call it unfortunate but necessary, given an increasingly violent prison population. Critics call it a concept that didn't work in 19th-century America and is in danger of overuse now. ``The question isn't who these prisoners are, the question is who we are,'' said Ben Wolf, of the American Civil Liberties Union's prisons project in Illinois. The growing popularity of the costly approach, particularly among states, represents a profound reversal in American attitudes. For most of this century, rehabilitation was the overarching goal. By 1980, however, frustrated by growing crime and rising drug-related convictions, society supported mandatory minimum sentencing, removing exercise equipment from prisons, barring Pell grants for inmates' higher education, and, finally, entire prisons of mostly solitary confinement. ``I think we as a nation are becoming more punitive, and I think we seem to have a real faith in punishment as something that will work to deter crime. I think the greater thing is that we just want to get retribution and revenge,'' said Kevin Wright, a professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Binghampton. In the arid, remote high desert, the triangular, two-story, high-tech ADX is almost invisible, as are its 417 male inmates. Many spend 23 of every 24 hours double-locked in an 8-by-12-foot cell behind a steel door and barred grate. Some spend the day's remaining hour alone as well, exercising in a small concrete recreation area and subjected to strip searches upon leaving and re-entering their cells. Except for the guards, there is no direct human contact. ``One of the fundamental effects it has is on the human senses: sight, touch, smell, taste. It restricts your world, puts it in a vise really,'' said Raymond Luc Levasseur, 51, serving 40 years for bombings and attempted bombings in the 1970s. Speaking through a microphone set in a plexiglass window, he said, ``How much abuse do you want to put on a person you're going to be with in an elevator someday or get into an argument with at an intersection? This is America. What kind of country do you want to live in?'' John Hurley, warden at ADX, observed that the shift in emphasis from the ``medical model of rehabilitation to a more reality-based approach'' of corrections reflects society's desires. According to a 1995 survey conducted by the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University, in Texas, when asked if the government needed to put a greater effort into rehabilitating or punishing and putting away those convicted of violent crimes, the vast majority of respondents opted for punishment. The United States locks up a higher proportion of its citizens than any other industrialized country. In 1980, 20 federal prisons held 30,000 inmates, compared with 94 prisons with 100,000-plus inmates and a $3.3 billion annual budget today. ``The notion that ADX is the future of corrections is entirely wrong. It is reserved only for the most predatory and violent inmates,'' said Todd Craig, spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons, noting that supermax inmates account for only 0.5 percent of the total 100,000-plus federal prison population. ADX may be an anomaly in the federal prison system, but its model clearly has become a trend in state corrections. Already, there are 60 ADX-style state facilities. Most, such as the $73 million, 4-month-old supermax in Tamms, Ill., have opened since 1990; more are on the way. Few critics deny the need for some facility designed to separate dangerous inmates from the prison staff and other inmates. However, many question if the appropriate people are being put into these prisons. Stuart Grassian, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and expert on the effects of solitary confinement, said: ``My conclusion is that prolonged solitary confinement causes severe psychiatric harm, even among people who had previously suffered no severe psychiatric problems.''
------------------------------------------------------------------- Legalization Of Drugs Wrong, Regardless Of How It Is Done (A Slightly Different Version In 'The Houston Chronicle' Of The Boilerplate Op-Ed Mischaracterizing Harm Reduction By The US Drug Czar, General Barry McCaffrey)Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 22:27:37 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Op-Ed: McCaffrey; Legalization Of Drugs Wrong, Regardless Of How It Is Done Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Art Smart (ArtSmart@neosoft.com) Source: Houston Chronicle (TX) Pubdate: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.chron.com/ Author: BARRY R. McCAFFREY LEGALIZATION OF DRUGS WRONG, REGARDLESS OF HOW IT IS DONE THE so-called harm-reduction approach to drugs confuses people with terminology. All drug policies claim to reduce harm. No reasonable person advocates a position consciously designed to be harmful. The real question is which policies actually decrease harm and increase good. The approach advocated by people who say they favor harm reduction would in fact harm Americans. The theory behind what they call harm reduction is that illegal drugs cannot be controlled by law enforcement, education and other methods; therefore, proponents say, harm should be reduced by needle exchange, decriminalization of drugs, heroin maintenance and other measures. But the real intent of many harm-reduction advocates is the legalization of drugs, which would be a mistake. Lest anyone question whether harm reductionists favor drug legalization, let me quote some articles written by supporters of this position. Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center, a Manhattan-based drug research institute, wrote in American Heritage (March 1993): "Should we legalize drugs? History answers `yes.' " In Issues in Science and Technology (June 1990), Nadelmann aligns his own opinion with history's supposed verdict: "Personally, when I talk about legalization, I mean three things: The first is to make drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin legal." With regard to labels, Nadelmann wrote: "I much prefer the term `decriminalization' or `normalization.' " People who advocate legalization can call themselves anything they like, but deceptive terms should not obscure a position so that it can't be debated coherently. Changing the name of a plan doesn't constitute a new solution or alter the nature of the problem. The plain fact is that drug abuse wrecks lives. It is criminal that more money is spent on illegal drugs than on art or higher education, that crack babies are born addicted and in pain and that thousands of adolescents lose their health and future to drugs. Addictive drugs were criminalized because they are harmful; they are not harmful because they were criminalized. The more a product is available and legitimized, the greater will be its use. If drugs were legalized in the United States, the cost to the individual and society would grow astronomically. In the Netherlands, when coffee shops started selling marijuana in small quantities, use of this drug doubled between 1984 and 1992. A 1997 study by Robert MacCoun and Peter Reuter from the University of Maryland notes that the percentage of Dutch 18-year-olds who tried pot rose from 15 percent to 34 percent from 1984 to 1992, a time when the numbers weren't climbing in other European nations. By contrast, in 1992 teen-age use of marijuana in the United States was estimated at 10.6 percent. Many advocates of harm reduction consider drug use a part of the human condition that will always be with us. While we agree that murder, pedophilia and child prostitution can never be eliminated entirely, no one is arguing that we legalize these activities. Some measures, like heroin maintenance, proposed by activist harm reductionists, veer toward the absurd. The Lindesmith Center convened a meeting in June to discuss a multicity heroin maintenance study, and a test program for heroin maintenance may be launched in Baltimore. Arnold Trebach argues for heroin maintenance in his book Legalize It? Debating American Drug Policy: "Under the legalization plan I propose here, addicts ... would be able to purchase the heroin and needles they need at reasonable prices from a nonmedical drugstore." Why would anyone choose to maintain addicts on heroin as opposed to oral methadone, which eliminates the injection route associated with HIV and other diseases? Research from the National Institute for Drug Abuse shows that untreated addicts die at a rate seven to eight times higher than similar patients in methadone-based treatment programs. Dr. Avram Goldstein, in his book Addiction: From Biology to Drug Policy, explains that when individuals switch from heroin to methadone, general health improves and abnormalities of body systems (such as the hormones) normalize. Unlike heroin maintenance, methadone maintenance has no adverse effects on cognitive or psychomotor function, performance of skilled tasks or memory, he said. This research indicates that the choice of heroin maintenance over methadone maintenance doesn't even meet the criteria of harm reduction that advocates claim to apply. Treatment must differ significantly from the disease it seeks to cure. Otherwise, the solution resembles the circular reasoning spoofed in Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince by the character who drinks because he has a terrible problem, namely, that he is a drunk. Just as alcohol is no help for alcoholism, heroin is no cure for heroin addiction. As a society, we are successfully addressing drug use and its consequences. In the past 20 years, drug use in the United States decreased by half and casual cocaine use by 70 percent. Drug-related murders and spending on drugs decreased by more than 30 percent as the illegal drug market shrank. Still, we are faced with many challenges, including educating a new generation of children who may have little experience with the negative consequences of drug abuse, increasing access to treatment for 4 million addicted Americans and breaking the cycle of drugs and crime that has caused a massive increase in the number of people incarcerated. We need prevention programs, treatment and alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. Drug legalization is not a viable policy alternative because excusing harmful practices only encourages them. At best, harm reduction is a halfway measure, a halfhearted approach that would accept defeat. Increasing help is better than decreasing harm. The "1998 National Drug Control Strategy" -- a publication of the Office of National Drug Control Policy that presents a balanced mix of prevention, treatment, stiff law enforcement, interdiction and international cooperation -- is a blueprint for reducing drug abuse and its consequences by half over the coming decade. With science as our guide and grass-roots organizations at the forefront, we will succeed in controlling this problem. Pretending that harmful activity will be reduced if we condone it under the law is foolhardy and irresponsible. McCaffrey is director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Nuanced Welcome In The Hamptons (A 'New York Times' Article In 'The San Jose Mercury News' Notes Parenthetically That A Marijuana-Law Protester Haunted President Clinton's Recent Fund-Raising Trip To East Hampton, New York) Date: Mon, 3 Aug 1998 12:31:29 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US NY: Nuanced Welcome in the Hamptons Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Marcus/Mermelstein Family (email@example.com) Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Pubdate: Sun, 2 Aug 1998 Author: Bruce Weber - NY Times NUANCED WELCOME IN THE HAMPTONS Clintons' arrival provokes low murmurs but no ordinary, tasteless traffic jams EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. -- The Hamptons didn't exactly offer President Clinton a red carpet and a clamorous ovation this weekend. The greeting was more confused than that, more complicated, muted. Yes, there were the high-profile parties, thrown by the likes of the investment banker Bruce Wasserstein and actors Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, where the president was expected to raise some $2 million for the Democratic National Committee. And there was the hospitality of Steven Spielberg, who offered his Georgica Pond estate to the president and his wife. But those were the celebrities and big-money folks who give the Hamptons their reputation and cachet. The ordinary affluent weekenders who give the Hamptons their crowds and soaring real-estate prices, and the year-rounders, who generally can't wait for September, responded with a more layered enthusiasm. Glamour and power are no big deal here; they come with the territory. The biggest welcoming sign was on the side of the Stephen Talkhouse, a music club in Amagansett, where Jefferson Starship, a band from the era when Clinton was not inhaling marijuana, played Friday night. The enormous sign, on behalf of a 17-year-old chef at the club, Eiji Shiga, read: ``Welcome Bill and Hillary, Please help keep our friend, Eiji, out of jail.'' Hoping for leniency Eiji, who is awaiting sentencing for a series of robberies, is a well-spoken young man who admits he deserves to go to prison but who hopes for a lenient sentence. ``Maybe he'll see the sign, say, `What's up with that?' and stop in,'' Eiji said of the president. Whatever the reason, Route 27, the main east-west road through the South Fork of Long Island, was uncharacteristically unclogged Friday. Though it was the site of the Basinger-Baldwin and Wasserstein bashes, as well as the president's weekend radio address, Amagansett, which is sleepy to begin with, never really woke up. And maybe most amazing, downtown East Hampton and Sag Harbor, ordinarily mobbed with shoppers, have both been reasonably navigable. Of course, no place is so inured to glitz and indulgence that the president fails to make an impression. Friday, when he arrived at East Hampton Airport by helicopter from Westhampton (where Air Force One had landed), a crowd of maybe 200 people had pulled their cars off Route 27 and waited for a glimpse of his motorcade. It was an amused gathering on the roadside, including Michael Silberkleit, publisher of Archie Comics, whose wife, Nancy, wore an oversize Archie head; Corey Watson, a California college student working as a summer pool man, who held a small sign that said ``Legalize Marijuana''; and the housekeeping and maintenance staff of financier Ronald Perelman, whose driveway opens on to the motorcade route. On the street, in restaurants, it was easy to overhear the conversations about Clinton, his sex life and whether he lied about it and encouraged others to do so. ``I've always said, even if she catches you in bed with the sheets down, say, `Honey, you got it wrong,' '' said Derek Ford, who may or may not have been joking. ``It's very hard, if you're a man in a powerful position, to say `No, no, no' to all the opportunities,'' said Ford, who owns a chain of women's clothing stores in Canada. ``I've been married four times for that reason.'' Speculation, lamentation Speculations over what went on between the president and Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern, often led to head-shaking lamentations over the fact that alleged sex acts have become the focus of a special prosecutor investigating the nation's chief executive. For many the issue is not whether there was sex play in the White House, but whether it matters. ``I think it's outrageous, it's sexual McCarthyism,'' said David Oestreich, a New York City businessman who was a house guest in East Hampton. The opposite view was expressed on a roadside billboard in front of the Southampton Full Gospel Church, where each week a line of scripture is posted for the benefit of weekenders arriving in the Hamptons on Route 27. This week's selection is from Hebrews: ``Whoremongers and adulterers, God will judge.''
------------------------------------------------------------------- Truth Is The First Casualty (A Letter To The Editor Of 'The Edmonton Sun' Describes The Lies Recently Promulgated About Dutch Drug Policy By The US Drug Czar, General Barry McCaffrey) From: email@example.com (Matt Elrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Canada: PUB LTE: Truth is the first casualty Date: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 09:04:02 -0700 Lines: 23 Newshawk: email@example.com Source: Edmonton Sun Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: 08/02/1998 Author: Timothy Meehan Comment: Parenthetical remarks by the Sun editor: headline by hawk U.S. DRUG czar Barry McCaffrey recently declared the drug policy in the Netherlands a failure, pointing to a higher per-capita murder rate. He stated that murder rates in the U.S. are 8.22 per 100,000 and Dutch rates are 17.58 per 100,000. However, when you look at the official figures published in statistics Netherlands is 1.8 per 100,000 for 1996 and it has been that way for a number of years. The 17.58 figure is the number of attempted murders per 100,000 people. We shouldn't be surprised, really. McCaffrey is, after all, a government propagandist and as in all other conflicts it seems truth has become a casualty in the war on drugs as well. Timothy Meehan Toronto (McCaffrey has outnumbered himself.)
------------------------------------------------------------------- Accused Drug Thug Threat To Canucks? ('The Toronto Sun' Says Canadian Authorities Are Concerned That Canadians On The Caribbean Island Of St. Kitts May Be Mistaken For The American Veterinary Students Supposedly Threatened By An Alleged Cocaine Trafficker Worried About Being Extradited To The United States) From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Caribbean: Accused Drug Thug Threat To Canucks? Date: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 13:20:35 -0700 Lines: 61 Newshawk: email@example.com Source: Toronto Sun Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: August 2, 1998 ACCUSED DRUG THUG THREAT TO CANUCKS? A senior Canadian diplomat is on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts assessing the danger to Canadians after an accused drug trafficker threatened to start killing American students if he were extradited to the U.S. "There is some concern that some North American students look like other North American students," said Deanna Rexe, 31, an adult education PhD student from Vancouver at Berne University, one of eight Canadians at the school. 'CONCERNED' D'Arcy Thorpe spent the day talking to Canadian students from Ross and Berne universities, as well as to senior security officials in the former British colony. "People are concerned and, when you get these kinds of threats, they're looking for guidance on what to do," Thorpe said from Basseterre, capital of St. Kitts. "It's a tough situation." U.S. state department officials are said to have arrived on St. Kitts last week to negotiate the extradition of accused drug trafficker Charles Miller, who's reputed to drive around the island in an armored BMW. The department said it had information that Miller, also known as Little Nut, threatened to have U.S. students killed at random if he were extradited to face drug trafficking charges. Washington has been seeking the extradition of Miller, 37, and other suspects, for trial since 1996. His extradition is being considered by the courts in St. Kitts. 'COMMON SENSE' "Clearly the Americans were mentioned, but it's being treated by the community and the local authorities as a more general threat," said Thorpe, a counsellor with the Canadian High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados, who flew in to assess the situation. Thorpe said he advised Canadians in St. Kitts to use "common sense" while on the island. "(They should) use their judgment as local residents in what to do and not to do in terms of what places to avoid." In Ottawa, department of foreign affairs spokesman Sophie Legendre said the Canadian government hasn't issued any advisory recommending anyone leave St. Kitts. Legendre said there are 28 Canadian families, including students, registered as living on St. Kitts.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cannabis Campaign - Lords Hear The Medical Evidence (Britain's 'Independent On Sunday' Continues Its Weekly Push For Reforming Cannabis Laws With An Account Of Tuesday's Presentation To The House Of Lords' Science And Technology Sub-Committee By Dr Geoffrey Guy, Who Last Month Won The First Licence To Farm Cannabis For Medical Research In Britain) Date: Mon, 3 Aug 1998 12:23:29 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: UK: Cannabis Campaign - Lords Hear the Medical Evidence Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Source: Independent on Sunday Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Mail: Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL England Editor's note: The IoS Cannabis Campaign has web pages at http://www.independent.co.uk/sindypot/index.htm Pubdate: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 Author: Vanessa Thorpe CANNABIS CAMPAIGN - LORDS HEAR THE MEDICAL EVIDENCE Dr Geoffrey Guy, who last month won the first licence to farm cannabis for medical research in Britain, has given evidence to members of the House of Lords on the therapeutic potential of the drug. Last Tuesday Dr Guy told the House of Lords Science and Technology Sub-Committee that the Medicines Control Agency would only consider approving a product he had developed if it was safe, of high quality and medically effective. "The committee asked me some extremely informed questions and I explained the route I hope my research will take through legislation," said Dr Guy. "While it might appear that the battle is half-won, we are actually a long way from developing a product." Dr Guy said he had not yet planted his first crop at the secret location of his £4m greenhouse research facility in the south of England. "We hope to plant within the next few weeks. We have had to gain Home Office approval at every stage for obvious security reasons." The work will initially concentrate on how to breed a patented plant with the right properties and on how to administer the drug so that the therapeutic value is heightened and side effects such as drowsiness or euphoria are largely avoided. The cannabis used will be the potent seedless varieties of the sinsimella plant, containing large amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), the main active drug ingredients. Should the MCA eventually approve a product which has been developed by Dr Guy's company, GW Pharmaceuticals, commercial manufacture would have to be sanctioned by the Government. Although GW Pharmaceuticals has won some government support, it is not government-funded and the company will have to raise substantial amounts of money to continue with their work. Dr Guy also suspects that much of his time may be spent "establishing" therapeutic uses which are already widely understood by those patients and pain sufferers who have been experimenting with the drug - illegally - for some time. He points out that a recent survey by Disability Now showed that almost 98 per cent of the magazine's readers backed the legalisation of cannabis and many said they had already used the drug therapeutically at home. Meanwhile, last Monday, 42,000 viewers of BBC1's Watchdog Healthcheck programme took part in a telephone poll on the subject. Following a filmed report looking at the effects of the drug on patients suffering with conditions ranging from cancer, Aids and glaucoma to multiple sclerosis, 96 per cent of voters were in favour of legalising the medical use of cannabis. Only four per cent were opposed. The programme-makers were surprised, both by the huge response to the issue and by the size of the majority that came out in support of liberalising attitudes to the drug. Producer Karen Benveniste told the Independent on Sunday: "The medical argument obviously came over strongly, although we certainly wanted to look at the issue in an unbiased way and we made sure that we spoke to people on both sides of the debate." Just five minutes after the filmed report had finished more than 30,000 viewers had called in with their votes.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Objection, Mr Straw (Trevor Grove, Author Of 'The Juryman's Tale,' Writes In Britain's 'Independent On Sunday' That Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair And Home Secretary Jack Straw Are Reviving A Conservative Proposal To Curtail The Right To Choose A Trial By Jury) Date: Sun, 2 Aug 1998 23:48:25 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: UK: OPED: Objection, Mr Straw Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: Sun, 02 Aug 1998 Source: Independent on Sunday Contact: Email: email@example.com Mail: Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL England Website: http://www.independent.co.uk/ Author: Trevor Grove OBJECTION, MR STRAW The right to choose trial by jury is an integral part of our democracy - or so Labour insisted when the Conservatives proposed to curtail it. Now, keen to cut costs, Blair's Government is reviving the very same idea. TONY BLAIR never said "the jury system is safe in our hands". He hardly needed to. Trial by jury is the very essence of our democracy, or, as Lord Devlin said, "Every jury is a little Parliament"; and when the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard, prompted by the recommendations of the 1993 Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, proposed to curtail the right to choose trial by jury, Jack Straw led the catcalls. The proposal was "unfair, short-sighted and likely to prove ineffective", he spluttered. As things stand, and have stood since Victorian times, those accused of a wide range of lesser offences, such as shoplifting or indecent assault, can choose whether to have their cases heard summarily, in a magistrates' court, where sentences tend to be lower, or before a jury in a crown court, where acquittal rates are higher. Under Home Office proposals published last Tuesday, with the apparent approval of Mr Straw, defendants would no longer have that choice. The magistrates would take the decision. It is a breathtaking volte-face,and it is already evident that Mr Straw will, like his predecessor, meet with stubborn opposition Much of it on that occasion came from the silkiest of trade unions, the Bar Council, but certainly not all. This time round, the cries of "Objection!" were instantaneous. It would be a back-door removal of jury trial, said Bruce Houlder QC, speaking for the Bar, "a further unfortunate inroad into something which is being marginalised all the time". The radical Legal Action Group was also quick into the fray, reminding the Government that "the defendant's right to elect a jury trial is one of the most important rights in the criminal justice system". No one should have been surprised at the hubbub. Trial by jury is far from perfect - the worst system in the world save for all the others, it is often said. But our attachment to the jury system in this country is an article of faith and attempts to diminish its role raise hackles right across the political spectrum. IT HAS to be said that there are good arguments for reducing the large number of apparently piffling cases that go before juries. The theft of a bottle of milk from a doorstep could in theory lead to a full crown court trial. The cost would be at least five times greater than if the case were heard by magistrates; estimates put the average contested jury trial at UKP13,500, against UKP2,500 for a magistrate's court case. The prospect of massive savings has reawakened the Home Office's zeal for reform and caused Mr Straw to think again. It is also true that experienced crooks exploit the system, banking on a jury's good-heartedness and lack of experience to get them off. When I wrote a book about the jury system last year I encountered a widespread belief that this was so - especially among the police. In such cases this was not justice, they pointed out. Nor is it. By the same token, many wrongly charged defendants also get the benefit of the doubt - a benefit that might not be so readily available from a trio of case-hardened JPs, whose conviction rate is almost double that of juries. To be charged with stealing a packet of prawns or goosing a ballgirl at Wimbledon might seem of no great moment to some, but it could spell the end of their worlds if the accused were a schoolteacher or a clergyman, people whose livelihoods depended on their reputations. "If you were charged with shoplifting a box of chocolates and you hadn't done it, what would you do?" asks former judge Sir Stephen Tumim. He has no doubt. He would rather be judged by a jury than by magistrates, who have seen too much of human nature always to think the best of it. For all its imperfections, the jury system is a precious institution, a valuable ingredient in national self-esteem. To tinker with it merely for the sake of good housekeeping is to trifle with history. Whereas the monarchy makes us subjects, the jury system defines us as citizens. It is a safeguard against oppressive and outdated laws. It ensures that the accused hear their trials conducted in language they understand. Above all, it is a guarantee that no one in this country can be deprived of his liberty for more than a few months without 12 of his fellow-citizens agreeing to it. About 22,000 cases a year would be affected by the abolition of the right to choose jury trial in "either-way" cases. To put that in a wider perspective, the vast majority of criminal cases in England and Wales, at least 93 per cent of them, are heard in magistrates' courts. That leaves at most 7 per cent of defendants to be tried by juries. Of that 7 per cent, the 22,000 represent less than a quarter. Nevertheless, it is not hard to imagine the kind of misfortune that could lead to an otherwise blameless person being one of those accused. As an ex-juror, I would be alarmed at being refused the option of a jury trial in such circumstances. I have sat in the jury box on short trials at Southwark and an immensely long one at the Old Bailey. In each case I was impressed by how such a random collection of involuntary volunteers rose to the occasion and strove to reach a fair verdict. My conclusion is that most juries treat their task with remarkable conscientiousness. The newly ennobled Helena Kennedy QC agrees. "Juries use their sixth sense, their sense of smell. They sniff the air and get a feeling about whether people are truthful or reliable. They may go in with a whole set of prejudices, but what always impresses me is that they can filter them out. They can make subtle distinctions. You can see the effect in the verdict, when they find a defendant guilty on some counts of the indictment but not on others. Collectively this group of people is better than the sum of its parts." IT IS TRUE that the acquittal rates are much higher when juries and not magistrates are in the seat of judgment. But that is what you would expect. Members of the jury, you must decide "so that you can be sure", says the judge. "Beyond reasonable doubt," adjures the counsel. Those are mighty obstacles in the path of a carelessly considered conviction. In spite of the arguments for keeping the jury system as it is, some form of change regarding these "either-way" cases now seems unstoppable - just as it seems clear that juries will one day be removed from complicated fraud cases and be replaced by tribunals. Mr Howard's Home Office was forced to rein in on both these reforms. But there are few checks on New Labour, especially when Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, is cracking the whip. If it is to be left to magistrates to decide on the form of trial in "either-way" cases, I would recommend that in such instances the bench ought to have before it the defendant's criminal record, should he have one (as many do). Anyone without a record - who therefore has a reputation to defend - should automatically be allowed to opt for trial by jury. That way the benefit of the doubt which juries notoriously afford the man or woman in the dock would apply where it was most properly due. I am surprised to be writing about this subject today. Less than a year ago, as I was finishing The Juryman's Tale, I wrote this: "The present government, needless to say, has no plans to carry on where the reviled Howard left off - yet. But the 'either-way' saga clearly shows that, for all the lip service paid to it, the jury system in this country is by no means invulnerable. The warning words of the great 18th-century judge and jurist Sir William Blackstone are sure to be invoked again before the new millennium is very old. "He warned of the lure of new and arbitrary methods of trial: 'However convenient these may appear at first . let it again be remembered that delays and inconvenience in the forms of justice are the price that all free nations must pay for their liberty in more substantial matters . and that, though begun in trifles, the precedent may gradually increase and spread, to the utter disuse of juries in questions of the most momentous concern." Though it hasn't waited for the new millennium to re-survey the sacred bulwark, I don't think this is what the Government has in mind. But great edifices are eroded from the outside. It would be ironic if, just as countries such as Russia, Spain and Japan are turning to the jury system as a better means of doing justice, New Labour started knocking bits off it in order to save on the upkeep bills. Trevor Grove is the author of 'The Juryman's Tale' (Bloomsbury). A Model For Much Of The World THE ENGLISH jury system has been exported across the globe, writes Trevor Grove. It flourishes in Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is hanging on in Hong Kong. Many Commonwealth countries abolished it for tribal or dictatorial reasons but Malawi has brought it back. Nowhere is it more highly revered than in the United States, where Sidney Lumet's film Twelve Angry Men virtually has the status of a sacred text. France has its own jury system, as does Scotland. Russia, Spain and Japan are all considering the introduction of juries modelled on Britain's. Scotland has 15-person juries and the seldom-used option of the "not proven" verdict. In France, serious cases are heard by three judges and nine jurors. All 12 retire together to consider both the verdict and the sentence (an idea that might appeal to our own law-enforcers). In other countries with jury systems, the English model prevails, with variations. In New Zealand and most states in Australia, verdicts must be unanimous, although there are moves to introduce majority verdicts, as here, because of the high rate of hung juries. In the US, too, the majority of states insist on unanimity - and not just for offences carrying the death penalty - despite the numerous mis-trials that result. In England and Wales, peremptory challenges of potential jury members are no longer allowed. In general, the jury you get is the jury you are stuck with. But in the US, prosecution and defence lawyers have a generous allowance of peremptory challenges and employ high-earning jury consultants to help them. The result is that juries sometimes take months to pick, and often end up looking "stacked" - as in the first O J Simpson trial. In the US, juries also try big civil cases. Despite plentiful evidence that jurors are often out of their depth in the cross-currents of commercial law, millions of dollars hang on their verdicts. On the other hand defendants can be tried by a judge alone, if they choose, which many do. Three US states - New York, Arizona and Massachusetts - now insist that jury service should be universal. Everyone must do it if summoned, except in the direst circumstances. That is something the UK would do well to emulate. Far too many professional and middle-class people find it easy to avoid their stint in the jury box - and then complain that juries are too ignorant to reach a reliable verdict. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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