Thursday, January 27, 2005

Wait until they come for you...

Radley Balko has a good article up at Fox about the erosion of our rights in the name of the drug war and DUI/DWI laws. Best quotes-

"The drug war has been eating at the Bill of Rights since its inception. Asset forfeiture laws, for example, allow law enforcement to seize the assets of suspected drug dealers before they're ever convicted of a crime. Even if the defendant is acquitted or the charges are dropped, the mere presence of an illicit substance in a car or home can mean the loss of the property, on the bizarre, novel legal principle that property can be guilty of a crime.
Thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, a judge in Utah recently had no choice but to sentence a first-time marijuana dealer to 55 years in prison (he had a pistol strapped to his ankle during the one-time deal, though he never brandished it). Frustrated but hamstrung by drug laws, the judge in the case noted that just hours earlier, he had sentenced a convicted murderer to just 22 years for beating an elderly woman to death with a log."


"the Court could allow "random sobriety checkpoints" in which cops stop motorists without probable cause and give them breath tests, a practice that would otherwise again violate the Fourth Amendment.
The Court has since ruled that the urgency of the drunken driving problem gives states the option to legislate away a motorist's Sixth Amendment (
search) right to a jury trial and his Fifth Amendment (search) right against self-incrimination."

And from my wonderful state-

"The state of Washington just passed two laws remarkable in their disdain for everything our criminal justice system is supposed to represent. The first instructs juries in drunk driving cases to consider the evidence "in a light most favorable to the prosecution," an evidentiary standard that's unheard of anywhere else in criminal law. The second mandates that breath test evidence be admissible, no matter what — even if the defense can prove that the breath test machine was broken, or jiggered toward higher readings."

But common sense and liberty will never prevail in the case of drug law, because any politician who comes out on the side of relaxing drug laws, or at least protecting our liberties from being violated in the name of the drug war, will be labeled as "soft on crime". Who cares if our rights are eroded, as long as those damn addicts are kept locked up! I just hope nobody accidentally leaves a joint in one of these legislators cars....


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