A Tale of Two Drug Wars

Crossposted at the lovely new Radical Writ, eagerly awaiting interested Blenders to bask in its radically progressive glory…

We’re going to play a little game to help illustrate why the War On (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Pharmaceutical, Non-Alcoholic, Tobacco-Free) Drugs is destroying America and needs to be ended immediately.  It’s an easy game; I just tell you two stories from the Dallas Morning News, and you try to guess which man’s picture, Tyrone Brown on the left, John “Alex” Wood on the right, fits which story:Story #1:  A seventeen-year-old high school dropout is walking with a friend of the same age.  They happen upon a man.  The friend pulls a pistol and they rob the man, but only get $2 cash, and give the wallet back to the man.  Cops catch the kids and haul them before Judge Keith Dean.  They plead guilty, he sentences the dropout to 10 years probation.

One month later, the kid tests positive for marijuana on a drug test, a requirement of his probation.  He’s brought back before Judge Dean, who then revokes the probation and sentences the seventeen-year-old to life in prison.  He rots in prison for the next seventeen years, joining a gang, fighting with guards, attempting suicide, until today, when he was given a conditional pardon (must remain under supervision) by the governor of Texas.  Now he is a free man and able to finally visit the daughter he’s never met, who’s now almost as old as he was when he first went to prison.

Story #2:  A man picks up a male prostitute and pays him $30 for some sex.  Afterwards, the two have a disagreement and the man shoots the prostitute in the back, killing him, and steals money out of the prostitute’s pocket.  The man is brought to the court of Judge Keith Dean.  The man pleads not guilty and he claims he shot the prostitute in the back on accident in self-defense.  The prosecutor and defense come up with a plea bargain, because the prosecutor senses the jury is swayed by the man’s boyish good looks and charm, as well as the prominent local Christian leaders (one of whom is the man’s father) who testified on his behalf.  The man agrees to plead guilty to murder in exchange for 10 years probation.

Three years later, the man tests positive for cocaine on a drug test, a requirement of his probation.  Two months after that, he’s stopped in the “borrowed” car of a US congressman and crack cocaine is found on the floor.  He’s allowed to live in another county and 100 miles from his probation officer, who never visited him once.  Several months later he tests positive for cocaine twice more.

The man lies about his continued cocaine use, and the lies or the repeated use should be enough to revoke his probation.  But he’s brought before Judge Dean again who doesn’t send him to prison, but instead allows him to attend a private drug treatment facility in Minnesota.  His probation officers file a motion to get the man’s probation revoked, but it is denied by Judge Dean.  The following year, the man gets into trouble for breaking into the home of a woman to settle a dispute over the ownership of a puppy.  Again, a probation revokation is filed, again it is denied by Judge Dean. 

The man tests positive for cocaine a fourth time.  Probation is not revoked.  The man is caught diluting his sample on another drug test.  Probation is not revoked.  The man fails a fifth drug test for cocaine.  Judge Dean not only doesn’t revoke probation, he does not require cash bail, lets him go to another out-of-state drug rehab, and lets him leave the country for vacation in Italy.  The man lets two multiply-convicted criminals live with him, a direct violation of his probation.  Probation is not revoked.  The man vanishes for a long time with a “borrowed” SUV and a “borrowed” credit card with one of the criminals.  Probation is not revoked.

OK, I know this quiz is a tough one, I know you’re just scratching your head trying to figure out which man’s picture belongs to which story.  Which man got his probation for a $2 theft revoked and sentenced to life in prison for smoking a joint?  Which man remained on probation for murder despite smoking crack, stealing cars, and breaking and entering?

Here’s a hint.  The difference between those two pictures isn’t that a big deal anymore.

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