Who are the real drug criminals?

In the great scheme of things, this story in our local paper may not seem like a big deal. But I found it very disturbing.

Donald Andrews ran a “smoke shop” in nearby Scotia. He was arrested for criminal possession and sale of a controlled substance, carrying a 25-year sentence, and spent three weeks in jail, before charges were dismissed.

628x471The evidence against him was a photo showing what was purported to be a packet of crack cocaine on his store counter. But Andrews had some photographic evidence of his own: his store’s security camera videotaped a man surreptitiously placing the packet on the counter, photographing it, and then quickly hiding it again. He was a paid Sheriff’s Department informant.

Andrews is suing Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino and local government bodies for violation of his rights.

Dagostino ridiculed suggestions that targeting Andrews (who’s black) was racially motivated; but said his office “is seeking” the informant.

images-1My question: how, in any case, could a photo of a packet on a counter ever be considered sufficient evidence to throw a man in jail? What’s to prove the packet even actually contained crack? Or that Andrews had anything to do with it? Of course, the informant could also simply lie.

But the real point is how the insane “war on drugs” poisons society far more than drugs themselves ever could. Here is a local law enforcement agency so gung-ho to nail drug offenders that it seems to care little whether the nailees are even guilty (of what shouldn’t even be a crime).

And I’ve written before how police exploit the “drug war” pretext to fatten their coffers by confiscating (i.e., stealing) the property of alleged drug violators, usually flouting Fourth Amendment due process guarantees. Was the real motive here to grab Andrews’s assets?images

The $500,000 he’s suing for is not enough. We can only look to our courts to smack down hard and deter this criminality by “law enforcement” agencies. If the Sheriff was paying this lowlife informant, then he’s responsible for the creep’s actions. He’s the one who should go to jail.

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6 Responses to “Who are the real drug criminals?”

  1. doughawes Says:

    Thank you for this blog.  Now I would love to see this posted elsewhere.  Whi

  2. Scott Perlman Says:

    Year-to-date we have spent over 24 billion dollars on the war on drugs. 985,384 people have been arrested on drug related charges this year….this year! Over 508,540 so far have been arrested on Cannabis related charges. Since December 31, 1995, the U.S. prison population has grown an average of 43,266 inmates per year. About 25 per cent are sentenced for drug law violations.

    A Cato study says legalizing drugs would save the U.S. about $41 billion a year in enforcing the drug laws.

    The money, energy, and time is staggering.

    (Source: see http://www.drugsense.org/cms/wodclock quoting Office of National Drug Control Policy, Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.)

  3. rationaloptimist Says:

    Scott, thanks for putting numbers on it. This is just SO insane. The evil of the drug war vastly exceeds any evil of drugs.

  4. Bob Ward Says:

    Right on, Frank. The only good thing about this story is that it adds to the list of evidence that can convince Americans we need to change our drug policies. Thank you.

  5. rationaloptimist Says:

    We have a very long way to go before most people will see it this way. But I’m an optimist. In the long run, at least.

  6. Wolfgang Says:

    Here, here! This makes some sense. It’s just amazing that the sheriff thought he could get away with it.

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