Skip to comments.Two Years for One Joint: New Flash Movie Highlights Injustice
Posted on 09/01/2006 10:15:43 PM PDT by freepatriot32
The Drug Policy Alliance is releasing a powerful flash movie that highlights the plight of 18-year-old Mitchell Lawrence, the teen now spending two years in jail for selling one joints worth of marijuana to an undercover cop in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
The two-minute movie introduces people to Mitchell Lawrence and the details of his case. The flash asks and then explains how an 18-year-old (he was 17 when arrested) who has never been in trouble before could be sentenced to two years in jail for selling such a minuscule amount of marijuana.
The movie states: "It takes two things: A bad law. And a cruel prosecutor."
Mitchell Lawrence received the two-year jail sentence because he was within 1,000 feet of a school and because the fanatical district attorney of Berkshire County, David Capeless, decided to press school zone charges, which trigger a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison.
The movie explains that, contrary to assumptions, the Drug-Free School Zone laws do nothing to protect children and are instead used to fill our prisons with people like Mitchell Lawrence. The flash explains:
98 percent of people arrested in "Drug-Free School Zones" werent selling drugs to children. 95 percent of all sales arent near any schools. Most of those arrested have no idea they are in a so-called school zone. 97 percent of all people arrested in "Drug-Free Zones" are Black or Latino. The movie is being sent out to the Drug Policy Alliances email list of 100,000 subscribers. After people view the flash they are encouraged to support the Mitchell Lawrence family and to help reform the disastrous "Drug-Free School Zone" laws.
Viewers of the movie are asked to show their solidarity with the Lawrence family by signing a letter of support to the family. The Drug Policy Alliance will send a candle on behalf of every person who signs the petition. The community of Berkshire County will be laying out the candles at a vigil this summer on the Court House steps in opposition to the inappropriate and harsh sentence.
Viewers are also asked to become members of the Drug Policy Alliance and help reform the ineffective "Drug-Free School Zone" laws. The Drug Policy Alliance recently commissioned a report authored by the Justice Policy Institute, "Disparity by Design: How drug-free zone laws impact racial disparity - and fail to protect youth." The report received national attention in USA Today, The Washington Post and hundreds of other media outlets across the country.
He was 17
It wasn't a plea bargain. There was a two day jury trial. He was convicted of selling marijuana within 1000 feet of a school because there was a preschool in a church within 1000 feet of where they were. They were in a parking lot where young people hung out and people were complaining a lot of drug activity was occurring there. The drug task force sent undercover officers in to make buys over a several month period. Several others ended up getting arrested in the end, mostly for selling the hard stuff. This kid sold 1.12 grams of marijuana to a drug task force officer. He claims the officer kept badgering him about selling him him some pot and finally offered twice what it was worth so he sold it to him. The officer contends that the boy approached him offering him pot. The boy was seventeen when the offense occurred. His prison sentence was the mandatory minimum for his crime. The judge had to give him at least that after the jury rendered its verdict of guilty.
So why not make execution the punishment for all crimes, including speeding?
When I was in school, we had to pay for drugs. Guns, too.
Kids today.. oy.
I know what the law says, I was questioning whether the punishment fit the crime. You appear to believe it is so. If that's your philosophy, let's make every crime punishable by severe amounts of jail time. We own't even get into the issue of overcrowding jails, but would you like to live in a society where speeding is punishable by 2 years in jail? Jaywalking? Someone stealing a candy bar from the store? Littering? We can really stop a lot of crime that way.
I know the liberals will cry and whine but but its only his fist offense or he was a good boy or never been in trouble before doesn't hack it with me, I am sure this poor lad of 17 now 18 knew and thought He could get away with it well he lost. T.S.
You've seemed to have side stepped this issue on whether the punishment fits the crime.
If the people want a law like that so be it sure would make the roads safer.I believe the law is half way their now you cause a death driving fast I believe the charge is manslaughter.or at least a long time behind bars.
Before Guliani, people would say "don't worry about 'minor' things like teens breaking windows, drinking and pissing in public, selling a little pot here and there and stripping idle cars and putting them up on cinder blocks, etc., etc.
"After all," the jaded city people of New York City would say, "We have more important crimes for our police people to address."
But Guliani did not subscribe to that nonsense. He correctly realized that is is the little crimes that lead to the bigger crimes. Once a particular neighborhood was allowed to have boarded up windows, cars up on blocks and kids selling dope, then more serious crime would quickly follow and that neighborhood would become unliveable for decent people.
So Guiliani had his 40,000+ people focus on petty crime. Drunks and bums were rousted out of streets and hallways of public buildings. Broken windows got quickly fixed and graffiti got immediately painted over while vandals got arrested. Abandoned cars were immediately towed away. Trash got picked up. Police stopped "windshield washers" and took them off the NYC streets. Jails filled up and the streets got a lot safer.
We need that same mentality everywhere. People might yip and yap about some 17-year-old kid getting 2 years of jail time for selling a little pot. But guess what? This kid is no longer selling pot and chances are he will not do so when he gets out. Chances are that many other 17-year-old kids like him are selling pot no more.
So we make an example of this 17-year-old kid in order that our streets be a little safer and that others like him are discouraged from making the same mistake.
Crime was reduced pretty much everywhere in the 90's, not just NYC.
Two years in jail is an apporpriate punishment for selling a joint? Why?
The penalty for speeding is typically a ticket in just about every state, with maybe some jail time if you're doing something like 80 in a 25 in some residential area. It is hardly 'half way to execution.' Intrestingly enough, reckless driving in Massachusetts doesn't earn you two years of jail time, even though I'd much rather have some kid sell a joint to someone else than some maniac going 50+ MPH in my neighborhood.
When arrested 17... obviously close to 18 - as he was 18 when sentenced. What's the difference and why do you feel it is an important distinction. Regardless, his actions were pretty ignorant, thus my statement stands.
Well you mentioned the number twice in your 10 word post so I thought you felt it was significant. FWIW, there usually is a big difference between being arrested as a 17 yr old and an 18 yr old. Seventeen yr olds usually get treated as minors although for major crimes they are often tried as adults.
That guy must have horrible luck. He sells one joint in his life and he gets caught.
Two years is pretty steep. A bunch of students at our local high school were busted for making bomb threats and putting what turned out to be a fake "device" on the roof of the school building. Just one of those students was sent to jail... for two years.
Lately it seems they are treating crimes by minors in the 17 yr. old range on an adult level. I don't quite understand your point, but mine was not regarding the age, rather, it was regarding the punishment vs. the crime as well as the YOUTH of the offender.
It appears that at the time of sentencing this person was 18?
Regardless of the age, the sentence is ridiculous.
I misunderstood your original post - my apologies.