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US Drug Warrior Plans Mandatory Grass Laws

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Republican congressman F. James Sensenbrenner is introducing a drugs bill proposing additional mandatory minimum jail sentences for drugs offences, including heavy prison terms for parents who fail to inform cops if they discover any drug activity anywhere near their kids.

Under his snitches' charter, parents "who witness or learn about drug trafficking activities, targeting or even near their children, if they do not report it to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours' will face 3 years in jail, reported this week.

The new bill also includes provisions for ten year minimum sentences for anyone over 21 busted supplying more than 5 grams of pot to anyone under 18, with life without parole for pot suppliers who get caught twice.

Civil Liberties organisation Stop The Drugs War branded the congressman's decision to call the bill "Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act' Orwellian and interviewed Steve Fox from the Marijuana Policy Project about the implications if it's passed.

"It proposes incredibly harsh penalties for infractions such as 'enticing' someone who was once upon a time in drug treatment to smoke a joint. That would be a five-year sentence for a first offender," Mr Fox warned.

"And 10 years for distribution of marijuana to a minor. Even members of Congress were asking if that meant someone could go to prison for 10 years for sharing a joint at a fraternity party. Ten-year mandatory minimums are insane!"

The new proposals emerged as the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that current mandatory sentences were one of the key factors behind record numbers of people incarcerated in America's gulag style prison system, which reached 2.1million in the latest figures published this week.

The record figure for mid 2004 represents a 2.3% increase year on year, with 900 extra prisoners being sentenced each week, the New York Times reported, meaning 1 in 138 Americans is now in jail. The US detention rate of 726 people per 100,000 was almost five times that of the second heaviest prison country, Britain, which currently jails 142 people per 100,000.