Sensenbrenner's Sntich-or-Go-to-Jail Bill
I don't think I've ever seen a bill as destructive as Rep. Sensenbrenner's new drug bill, H.R. 1528, the "The Safe Access to Drug Treatment & Child Protection Act of 2005." You think America's prison population is too high at 2 million? Get ready for 15 million.
You may remember this as the bill that provides for a five year mandatory minimum sentence for passing a joint to someone who's been through a drug treatment program. That's nothing. Read about what else this doozy of a bill will do. Like the "snitch or go to jail" provisions. If you are a college professor or student, you should be very afraid.
The bill provides for a two year jail sentence if you observe or come across information about drug distribution near colleges and do not report it to authorities within 24 hours and provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting those involved.
Drug War Rant says,
Hey, why don't we take this snitch law into other areas. Two year in prison for anyone seeing someone drive above the speed limit with children in the car, who doesn't write down the license plate number and report it within 24 hours. Or better yet, two years in prison for a legislator who sees another legislator draft unconstitutional bills and doesn't report it to the ethics committee.]
How about three strikes for drug offenders - life no parole for a third drug or violent felony. Remember that in most states, simple possession of even a gram of cocaine, meth, lsd or heroin is a felony. Federally, growing even one marijuana plant is a felony. Relatively small amounts of mariuana offenses are still a felony in many states.
More: Your 21 year old gives a joint his 17 year old sister. He gets a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence - for a first violation. With a prior felony drug conviction, it's life in prison, no parole.
Federally, the crime is distribution, which means "to deliver" - regardless of whether money is exchanged. So when the bill says "drug trafficking offense," there doesn't have to be a sale, just a distribution.
The way I read the bill, under the section called "Drug trafficking in the presence of children," this is a possible scenario: You run out of your Ambien or your pain pills. You ask a friend to bring one over. If you live with kids, even if they aren't home, it's a ten year mandatory minimum. Now reverse it. Your friend is out of pills, you bring her one. She has kids at home. She gets a mandatory ten year sentence, you get away with five. Or as TChris wrote in the post linked above,
[I]f Dad watches Mom smoke marijuana in their living room, they both head to prison, and Junior goes to foster care.
Other provisions will increase protected school zones to 1,000 feet instead of the current 100 feet. This applies not just to schools but to pools, day care centers, libraries, video arcades and drug treatment centers. Why don't they just drop the charade and say in any location?
The bill also does away with almost every departure under the Sentencing Guidelines - except cooperation. In many circumstances, instead of a presumption against bail for drug offenders, there will be mandatory detention -- with exceptions, of course, for those who agree to snitch.
Here's the links you need for now:
- H.R. 1528 (Actual bill)
- Drug Policy Alliance Bill Summary
- FAMM's summary (pff)
- Letters Opposing the bill - from federal judges, prosecutors and more.(pdf)
- Drug Policy Alliance action alert
- NORML action alert
America. Prison Nation. Watch us lock up our neighbors, our students, our teachers and our parents. Who will be left? Snitches, Congressman Sensenbrenner and the extremist Judges appointed by Bush.
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