In an essay in Time magazine 4 of the writers of The Wire commit:
If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.
One of the writers, Dennis Lehane, was interviewed today on NPR by Scott Simon. It is well worth the 4 minutes.
Here is one of the exchanges:
SS: Some of the most articulate and passionate proponents of drugs laws and, in fact, fierce and aggressive police action to enforce the drug laws are people who live in inner city communities…who say drugs have ravaged our neighborhood. They’ve taken almost half of an entire generation from us. We have to stamp this out.
DL: There is absolutely no way I can argue against that argument. I am not argueing for mass legalization of drugs. I’m argueing for a different, more common sense approach to the drug war, if you will. And, saying, I don’t believe that the drug war as it is being fought now is working is working.
Since Dennis won’t argue let me, in radio sound bite form, do it for him.
The drug war is the monster that has ravaged your neighborhoods. End it and you will be able to reclaim your neighborhoods. To end it you must hold accountable the stakeholders in the drug war: the politicians, the DEA, the police departments and prison industry whose livelihoods depend on ravaging your neighborhood. The blood is on their hands.
If the drugs had been available in the corner drug store like beer or the liquor store like Jack Daniels you would not have lost half of an entire generation. Yes, prohibition must end; there must be mass legalization.
Would folks still use and abuse drugs? Sure. Just like folks, including most of the drug war stakeholders, use and abuse alcohol.
What you would not have is drug war related brutality in your neighborhoods, 1 in 15 of your young men in penal institutions, or drug gang related mayhem throughout much of the world.
Take one small step to End it now! Vote to acquit when there is no violence involved.
On a related note see these posts on jury nullification by Radley Balko.
- Nullification Redux
- More on Nullification
- Last Post On Nullification. For Now.
- Creators of The Wire, “We’d Nullify”
I’d certainly do this. If only I’d get called to jury duty. I’ve been around long enough that you’d think it would happen, but no. In the meantime Mrs Modulator has been called many times.
I would make that pledge. It's a long conversation and I've used my long-post quota up for the day, but, yeah, I would make that pledge.
Just so you know, there’s an interesting conversation bubbling up over at my site on this subject thanks to you.
You should stop by and give us your opinion, too.
I’ll stop by this evening. On the road and in meetings the rest of the day.