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posted by azrael on Friday July 11 2014, @02:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the time-to-rethink dept.

A report at Alternet gives some context to the amount spent by the U.S. on its drug policy.

  • 1,100 - The number of Americans that die each year due to violent crime caused by the drug war
  • $51 billion - The amount that the U.S. government spends each year on the war on drugs
  • 61 percent - The percentage of individuals targeted by drug-related SWAT raids who are people of color
  • 82 percent - The number of Americans who believe that the government is losing the War on Drugs
  • 18 months - The age of Bounkham "Bou Bou" Phonesavanh, a recent American casualty of the drug war

The article goes into further details on the number, including:

On May 28, a team of police officers raided the Phonesavanh's home, with the mistaken belief that the residents were involved with drugs. As they entered, they tossed a flashbang grenade that landed directly in the crib of baby Bou Bou, which exploded within point-blank range - critically injuring him.

In a harrowing article, his mother, Alecia, described seeing "a singed crib" and "a pool of blood", and later being informed by medics: "There's still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs". Alecia said that the sole silver lining to this story is that it may "make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the war on drugs".

Fortunately, Bou Bou has been making a gradual recovery, but his family is relying on donations to support their living and medical costs.

 
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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Zinho on Friday July 11 2014, @03:30PM

    by Zinho (759) on Friday July 11 2014, @03:30PM (#67629)

    Apparently the long leash given to drug police has led to a culture of tolerating police corruption. A pair of journalists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania just won a Pulitzer [npr.org] for uncovering years' worth of abuse of authority on the part of the Philly drug police. The police were routinely rolling in to family-owned convenience stores (bodegas), disabling the security cameras, then stealing money, destroying property, and (in one officer's case) molesting and sexually assaulting the women present. The alleged crime? Selling ziplock baggies.

    When we created a class of police officer who operated outside the rules so that they could "combat drugs" we created a system tolerant of abuses like these.

    There's a bright side to this story, in that the investigation gathered enough hard evidence to prove the allegations were valid and attract the FBI's attention. This forced the Internal Affairs department's hand and brought several bad cops to justice, including the sexual predator. Several innocent store owners were released from prison and their records cleared after their cases were reviewed. I'm hoping that stories like this will help shift National attitude away from "always trust the police" and closer to "better that 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man go to prison".

    --
    "Space Exploration is not endless circles in low earth orbit." -Buzz Aldrin
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11 2014, @05:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11 2014, @05:49PM (#67728)

    > A pair of journalists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania just won a Pulitzer for uncovering
    > years' worth of abuse of authority on the part of the Philly drug police.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but they just won it 4 years ago. And while shining a light on that particular case made it too egregious to ignore, there were no lessons learned. Nothing has really changed except to get worse.

    • (Score: 2) by Zinho on Saturday July 12 2014, @02:07PM

      by Zinho (759) on Saturday July 12 2014, @02:07PM (#68097)

      You got me there; the interview I linked to was broadcast the day before my post, so I assumed the award was recent, too. I missed the tiny detail of which year it was awarded.

      It sounds like you've got a personal perspective on the Philly situation, care sharing? I'd love to get more up-to-date info on the aftermath of the report.

      --
      "Space Exploration is not endless circles in low earth orbit." -Buzz Aldrin