Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Policing for Profit

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm and public policy advocacy organization, has just issued a fascinating 123-page report.

Forfeiture is a tool of law enforcement that has legitimacy -- after all, after a person is convicted, they should not be allowed to keep what they stole! But too often, the power is not used after a criminal conviction, but only civilly, where the procedures unfairly favor the police. For decades, investigative journalists have documented abuses of the forfeiture tool by law enforcement agencies.

The Institute for Justice has assembled a lot of useful resources on this issue.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

American delegation flies to Mexico City to address cartel violence crisis. Leaves without ideas. Drops IOU for $310 million.

A "most formidable team" of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, and Counterterrorism Chief Brennan went to Mexico City Tuesday to address the drug prohibition violence that has swept over Mexico since early 2008. (Washington Post coverage here.)

The formidable team recognized that American demand is central to the problem and offered Mexico another $310 million for FY 2011.

But the best way to reduce demand in the U.S. is to provide treatment to hardcore heroin and cocaine addicts who consume the lion's share of those drugs. American treatment is of two types -- for the rich or well-insured who can afford it, or for the poor, which is usually unattractive, inconvenient, and inadequate. Yet the Administration is asking for a mere $137 million more for treatment in FY 2011.

Another way to reduce the demand for Mexican drugs -- specifically marijuana -- is to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in the U.S. This would have almost no negative effects on America. But the tax revenues and enforcement savings would be in the range of $10 to 14 billion annually according to Professor Jeffrey Miron. That could pay for enough drug treatment to beat down U.S. demand for hard drugs. Together, those two measures would hammer the Mexican traffickers' revenue stream, and reduce the violence.

But one can only imagine that blank stares inside the plane carrying the "most formidable team" to Mexico when Hillary Clinton asked, "Anybody got any new ideas?" Just think Michael Douglas in the movie, "Traffic."

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Crime Report on marijuana politics

Julia Dahl, writing for the on-line newsletter, The Crime Report, has the first of a two-part in-depth report on the changing politics of marijuana.

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Paul Armentano of NORML on Fox News on reducing violence in Mexico through marijuana regulation and taxation

Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML was just on Fox News' "Freedom Watch" analyzing how the violence in Mexico can be reduced by regulating and taxing marijuana. He is a co-author of the excellent book Marijuana is Safer.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Law Enforcement Corruption Fears considered by Senate Subcommittee

U.S. law enforcement agencies are vulnerable to being penetrated by new hires seeking opportunities for corruption, according to testimony before a Senate subcommittee.

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