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Baltimore's 'Snoop' Drug Sting Raises Questions about War on Drugs

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

A federal drug trafficking sting, which netted 64 arrests in Baltimore, was lauded by federal officials but has introduced new arguments questioning the effectiveness of America’s war on drugs.

“Wherever criminal gangs bring violence to our streets, that is where we will direct the resources needed to send them to prison,” Baltimore U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. “We must persist in this coordinated effort, because every American deserves to live in a safe neighborhood.”

A total of 40 people were charged by the state while 24 were charged federally. Authorities also seized marijuana, heroin, guns, and $69,000 in cash.

Among those charged was Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, 30, an actress on HBO’s “The Wire,” whose involvement made the case especially newsworthy. Pearson’s difficult upbringing led her to prior brushes with the law, including a murder conviction in 1996.

David Simon, producer of “The Wire,” said her arrest should be enough to prompt authorities to take a further look at the war on drugs.

“In an essay published in Time two years ago, the writers of ‘The Wire’ made the argument that we believe the war on drugs has devolved into a war on the underclass, that in places like West and East Baltimore, where the drug economy is now the only factory still hiring and where the educational system is so crippled that the vast majority of children are trained only for the corners, a legal campaign to imprison our most vulnerable and damaged citizens is little more than amoral,” he said in a statement.

He said that Pearson’s vastly different upbringing and environment from his own is one that makes him incapable of judgment.

“I, for one, do not qualify as a peer to Felicia Pearson,” he said. “The opportunities and experiences of her life do not correspond in any way with my own, and her America is different from my own.”

Despite Simon’s opinion, authorities say the arrests were necessary to further eliminate the scourge of drugs and violence on Baltimore’s streets.

“These arrests are representative of law enforcement’s commitment to keep this city safe from the violence and crimes associated with drug trafficking,” DEA Special Agent in-charge Ava Cooper-Davis said in a statement.

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0 # Guest 2011-03-17 12:54
"Don't do the crime if you can't do the time". Even by your own stats, more blacks use illicit drugs than any other race. That is a very disturbing statistic. You cannot defend the drug users, they are addicts. How many drug addicts go on to commit other crimes to buy their drugs?
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0 # Guest 2011-03-17 00:49
Let's look at the statistics: (2008 - illicit drug use by race) "Current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 or older varied by race/ethnicity in 2008, with the lowest rate among Asians (3.6 percent) (Figure 2.9). Rates were 14.7 percent for persons reporting two or more races, 10.1 percent for blacks, 9.5 percent for American Indians or Alaska Natives, 8.2 percent for whites, 7.3 percent of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, and 6.2 percent for Hispanics."

That's 8.2% of whites and 10.1% of blacks using illicit drugs. Now look at the incarceration statistics:

(2007 - incarceration rate by race) "The custody incarceration rate for black males was 4,618 per 100,000.
while the incarceration rate of white males was 773 per 100,000.

This means that there are at least 5 times more blacks incarcerated for drug offenses than should be expected. This is clearly a gross injustice!

http://[censored].drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/64
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0 # Guest 2011-03-17 00:47
Drug prohibition has become a successor system to Jim Crow laws in targeting black citizens, removing them from civil society and then barring them from the right to vote. If harsh sentences deterred illicit drug use, America would be "drug-free" by now. But that is not the case, and never will be. The drug war has given the "former land of the free" the highest incarceration rate in the world and disenfranchised millions of citizens. It is a cure worse than the disease.
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0 # Guest 2011-03-17 00:45
Not only does the US have the highest rate of incarceration on the planet, but the racial disparity of arrests, convictions and imprisonment have become grossly pronounced. Nationwide Afro-Americans are arrested, convicted and imprisoned disproportionately. Thirty-seven percent of drug-offense arrests are Afro-Americans, 53 percent of convictions are of Afro-Americans, and 67 percent -- two-thirds of all people imprisoned for drug offenses -- are Afro-Americans. This is depute the fact that Afro-Americans do not use drugs at a perceivable higher rate than white Americans. - 8.2% of whites and 10.1% of blacks use illicit drugs.

Much of the voting rights & victories won by the civil rights movement during the 1960s have effectively been eroded. Nearly 5 million people are now barred from voting because of felony disenfranchisement laws. The United States is the only industrial democracy that does this.
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