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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

This article unfortunately overlooks an important source of over-incarceration. In "Jailed Without Justice," Amnesty International found that an average of 30,000 individuals are held in immigrant detention every day--up from 10,000 per day in 1996! This has happened because authorities fail to even consider effective, less expensive alternatives to detention. Furthermore, detainees do not even have the opportunity to challenge the grounds of their detention--even if they are legal residents or US citizens. Worse yet, these prisoners are often held in inhumane conditions. (See http://www.amnestyusa.org/uploads/JailedWithoutJustice.pdf).

You can help by calling your representatives and urging them to support the following legislation to address these issues:

HR 1215, The Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act (House)

S. 1549, The Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Detention Act (Senate)

S. 1550, The Strong STANDARDS Act (Senate)

(I am the volunteer Legislative Coordinator for AIUSA in NJ. Thanks to Senator Menendez for introducing S 1549 and S 1550. Thanks also to Congressmen Payne, Holt, Rothman, and Sires for Cosponsoring HR 1215.)

Larry Ladutke

Nutley, NJ

Nov 3 2009 - 10:43am

Web Letter

Besides the obvious, such as legalizing and regulating drugs, it is high time to end the conspiracy of silence about smoking-induced brain damage and mental illness and smoking and crime. That smoking causes brain damage has been known since at least 1603, and the relationship between smoking and criminal and pychopathic behavior has been known since 1836 or earlier. Download "Prevent Tobacco-Caused Brain Damage" and "Prevent Crime and Violence: Here's How--According to Medical Studies."

Mark Scott Oller

Alexandria, VA

Oct 31 2009 - 3:44pm

Web Letter

One need not travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights or to Cuba for political prisoners. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to ongoing persecution of hippies, radicals and non-whites under prosecution of the war on drugs. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance global credibility.

The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as life is flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. Behold, it’s all good. When Eve ate the apple, she knew a good apple, and an evil prohibition. Canadian Marc Emery sold seeds that enable American farmers to out-compete cartels with local herb. The hero is being extradited to prison for the crime of reducing US demand for Mexican pot.

Only on the authority of a clause about interstate commerce does the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 reincarnate Al Capone, endanger homeland security and throw good money after bad. Administration fiscal policy burns tax dollars to root out the number-one cash crop in the land, instead of taxing sales. Society rejected the plague of prohibition, but it mutated. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment.

Nixon passed the CSA on the false assurance that the Schafer Commission would later justify criminalizing his enemies. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA shut down research, and pronounced that marijuana has no medical use, period. Drug juries exclude bleeding hearts.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership or an act of Congress to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. John Doe’s free exercise of religious liberty may include entheogen sacraments to mediate communion with his maker.

Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t specify any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

Common law must hold that adults are the legal owners of their own bodies. The founding fathers undersigned that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know yourself. Mortal lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration.

Bill Harris

Austin, TX

Oct 30 2009 - 8:16am

Web Letter

The spirit is there, but these suggestions are pretty lame and scattershot. Don't be a professional snitch? I wonder how many Nation readers are considering that as a profitable sideline (presumably not the same ones who are in a position to hire an ex-con). Pay "at-risk" kids to finish high school by organizing with "your community group"? Much too vague--give people some information! Talk up the trades? Again, too vague--if you actually know a young person considering becoming a drug dealer, saying, "You know, plumbers make a good living and don't end up dead or in prison" is not enough. I have no idea of how to connect a teenager with an apprentice program (vocational school?), and the recommended website gives no relevant info I could find.

As for listening to hip-hop, yeah, that will really change the world. I checked out allhiphop.com, as suggested, and it was just the usual: rappers dissing each other and cursing each other out, boasting in a truly juvenile fashion, marketing themselves and their products. 50 Cent has a new perfume!

How about: support Legal Aid, and organizations like the Bronx Defenders, who not only give quality legal services to the poor but also help them find work, get social services and rebuild their lives?

Katha Pollitt

New York, NY

Oct 30 2009 - 7:31am

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