Acquiescing to new ‘realities’ in the modern world, the FBI has eased its restrictions on hiring people who have a history of using certain drugs. Can we now admit that the “War on Drugs” has been a colossal failure at preventing drug use, and a rousing financial success for the prison-industrial complex?

Old guidelines barred FBI employment to anyone who had used marijuana more than 15 times in their lives or who had tried other illegal narcotics more than five times.

But those strict numbers no longer apply. Applicants for jobs such as analysts, programmers or special agents must still swear that they have not used any illegal substances recently — three years for marijuana and 10 years for other drugs — but they are no longer ruled out of consideration because of more frequent drug use in the past.

The gem in the article is this particular quote, which suggests a profound ignorance on the part of the most zealous FBI Director in history.

Such tolerance of admitted lawbreaking might seem odd for the FBI, whose longtime director J. Edgar Hoover once railed against young thugs filled with “false courage from a Marijuana cigarette.”

Yeah, when I think “courage” I think Cheech, Chong, and Pauly Shore. When stoned, “courage” pretty much amounts to the resolve to drive oneself to the gas station to pick up a bag of spicy Cheetos and a two liter of Shasta. You are not likely to find a less threatening group of human beings than a bunch of stoners.

These relaxed rules on the hiring people who have used drugs in the past stand in stark contrast to our draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Simply another form of systematic racism and classism; while poverty and race make one more likely to spend years in jail over acts that will no longer get you disqualified from being hired by the FBI.

Although Congress intended mandatory sentences to target “king pins” and managers in drug distribution networks, the U.S. Sentencing Commission reports that only 5.5 percent of all federal crack cocaine defendants and 11 percent of federal drug defendants are high-level drug dealers. This is because the most culpable defendants are also the defendants who are in the best position to provide prosecutors with enough information to obtain sentence reductions – the only way to reduce a mandatory sentence. Low-level offenders, such as drug mules or street dealers, often end up serving longer sentences because they have little or no information to provide the government.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Department of Justice have both concluded that mandatory sentencing fails to deter crime. Furthermore, mandatory minimums have worsened racial and gender disparities and have contributed greatly toward prison overcrowding. Mandatory minimum sentencing is costly and unjust. Mandatory sentencing does not eliminate sentencing disparities; instead it shifts decision-making authority from judges to prosecutors, who operate without accountability. Mandatory minimums fail to punish high-level dealers. Finally, mandatory sentences are responsible for sending record numbers of women and people of color to prison.

Mandatory minimum sentences aren’t restricted to low level dealers and drug mules, they include the crime of possession as well. Of course, it also depends on what version of the same drug you’re caught with:

“Under current law, possession of five grams or more of crack cocaine triggers a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison; simple possession of any quantity of any other controlled substance (except flunitrazepan) by a first-time offender – including powder cocaine – is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum of one year in prison.”

It’s nice that the FBI is accepting the realities of the 21st Century with regard to drug use, and recognizing that anyone who has done drugs in the past is not necessarily a dangerous, psychotic criminal. Now if only our legal system could do the same. Of course, as long as prisons are big business, this is unlikely.

Related Posts with Thumbnails