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.
I guess that area doesn't like drug sales around schools.
I think the main problem with very large "drug free school zones" is the following:
-Drug-Free School Zones (DFSZs) were designed to shove dealers and peddlers away from schools by creating a sentencing disparity between school zones and other zones. Before, when penalties were equal for both zones, dealers could deal anywhere without that kind of disparity. So, we're okay so far.
-But, when you expand DFSZs to the point where they end up covering a large percentage of a city, you again eliminate the disparity. This is because school zones no longer have a sentencing disparity between the schoolgrounds and other areas. Basically, we have upped the overall sentencing penalties, but have also erased the uniqueness of penalties for dealing near schools.
-So, since we erase the difference, dealers have less incentive to avoid schools. After all, if a large amount of land in a city will draw the penalty anyway, may as well "get your money's worth."
So, if we want drug dealers to go out of their way to avoid the areas around schools, we'd need to tighten the definition of school zone, and restore a sentencing disparity.
So the headline is nothing other than a lie of omission.
He was not given 2 years for one joint, but for the applicable conditions of the conviction.
I'd like to be on the Libertarian Ping List, please.
In this case...Mitch was awful stupid...and I'm betting he won't improve any when he is released after two years. He will be back in jail by age 30.
"But Officer, I was only doing 60 mph in a 55 mph zone...Why are you giving me a ticket????"
"Drug-Free School Zones"
I wonder if the sale was made within sight of a sign stating the above. The phrase "within 1000 feet" is a bit vague, does not tell me if he was 999 feet away or standing outside the school doors. Sorry, do the crime do the time. I have no problem at all with drug free zone laws.
2 years is not equivalent to a "ticket".
OTOH, he should have known the risk he was taking with his freedom.
OTOH, he was 18 and many 18 year olds are pretty ignorant...
I was recently in a store. Two women in front of me were trying to buy something on a credit card that had expired last week... "Oh, but that was only a few days ago!" They actually thought the cashier had the ability, willingness, and authority to accept their expired credit card.
It was simply unreal. Unreal.
One more note.
If he was selling Meth I would hang him from the nearest School Flagpole!
(Too many kid's lives are being completely destroyed by meth... pot doesn't worry me as much as the Meth problem does).
('Atlas Shrugged' 1957)
Prosecuting America's sons and daughters for drug use ( and alcohol abuse) is a crime in and of itself. Thank goodness they didn't throw everyone in jail for this in the early and mid 20th century. Many young people run wild early in life and then straighten up with the help of concerned family members. We have taken it out of the realm of something the family needs to address and let tne nanny government take care of it. No one comes forward now to help a family member who falls into this life for fear of having to become involved with the legal ramifications. Likewise, seeking help for your loved one may bring a whole slew of gov't agencies ready and willing to screw with your life.
Personal responsibility and families taking care of their own have gone by the wayside in favor of the VILLAGE concept so endorsed by Hillary Clinton. Instead of addressing family problems within the family they are addressed through government agencies, law enforcement and the police. When was the last time an officer took an errant teen or child home for their parents to address a problem I don't see this anymore. Instead they file charges and put the family into the court system.
My Grandparents had it right. We were TAUGHT not to take our grievances or differences to the authorities. We were TAUGHT to work things out in the family.
Sorry for the rant...
I see too many kids that are being thrown away by their parents for the gov't to deal with.... and I see too many in law enforcement who feel a need to make a bust.
The damage? Even if they grow up and move away from abusing alcohol and drugs, they have a record that brands them always.
Of course they could just be illegal aliens doing the same thing and they would be forgiven.
Sorry... just feeling a bit disgusted over things like this.
And the people dealing pot are dealing meth or have close connections....
I absolutely agree. I'm sick of the war on drugs and the lives and money it is costing.