McCain Would Focus on Law Enforcement

  McCain Would Focus on Law Enforcement

Posted by CN Staff on October 20, 2008 at 09:01:11 PT
By Evan Goodenow of The News-Sentinel  
Source: News-Sentinel 

Indiana -- Barack Obama used cocaine and marijuana as a teenager and says he could have ended up in prison if he didn't straighten out. John McCain's wife stole from her charity to feed her addiction to prescription painkillers, and he frequently sprinkles 12-Step philosophy language in his speeches and books.Both candidates have a personal connection to drugs, the common denominator in most crime - as well as prison overcrowding in the U.S. and a primary source of political instability in places like Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia and Mexico. But their approaches to dealing with addiction and crime differ sharply.
McCain's approach is weighted toward enforcement and incarceration. While opposing imprisoning first-time drug users and supporting prisoner re-entry programs, he supports mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers, less judicial sentencing discretion, executing drug kingpins and increasing drug interdiction on the Mexican border. The 72-year-old cancer survivor opposes allowing cancer patients to use prescription marijuana for medical treatment or to allow heroin addicts to receive methadone treatment.“Illegal narcotics are a scourge that I have fought against my entire legislative career and I believe this fight must begin with prevention and enforcement,” McCain - a Republican U.S. senator from Arizona since 1987 - wrote in response to a survey from the International Association of Chiefs of Police released Oct. 6. “As president, I would continue these efforts to ensure that our nation's children are protected from the influence of illegal drugs and the drug peddlers are brought to justice for their crimes.”Obama, a 47-year-old Democratic U.S. senator from Illinois since 2005, supported stiffer sentences for marijuana possession as an Illinois state senator and more money for combating methamphetamine dealing as a U.S. senator. But Obama's platform puts more emphasis on drug courts, drug treatment, needle-exchange programs and alternatives to incarceration for drug addicts partially because of his own drug use.“I say to myself that if I had been growing up in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago, there is no reason to think that I wouldn't be in jail today, that I could have easily taken the wrong turn,” Obama told author and Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell in “Obama: From Promise to Power.” “That is something that I am very mindful of and it is something that motivates me.”Obama discussed his drug use in his 1995 memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” McCain's wife, Cindy, has spoken candidly about her addiction to prescription painkillers that led her to steal drugs from a charity. No charges were filed, but she reimbursed the organization for the cost of the pills, according to The New York Times.Both McCain and Obama oppose legalizing drugs, a position advocated by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of current and former law enforcers who support ending the approximately $40 billion-per-year drug war.“It corrupts our police,” said group spokesman James Gerach, who supports Obama but stressed he is not speaking for the nonpartisan group. “It undermines law enforcement.”More than half of all federal prisoners and about 20 percent of state prisoners were imprisoned on drug charges in 2006, according to Bureau of Justice statistics. In 1982, the year John McCain was sworn in as a U.S. representative, the U.S. prison population was about 500,000. It was approximately 2.3 million last year.Prison reform advocates like Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, say increased drug laws and stiffer sentencing, positions advocated by McCain, are responsible for the spike.Mauer said about two-thirds of federal taxpayer money spent on drug prevention has gone for enforcement and imprisonment, with one-third for prevention and treatment.“That's not the balance that we need. If we can reduce demand, then that takes care of a lot of the supply problem, and we can be both more compassionate and cost effective,” said Mauer, whose group is not endorsing either candidate. “Within the court system we now have drug courts in most areas of the country, but they still don't have anywhere near the resources they need to get people into high-quality treatment programs.”Judge John F. Surbeck, who oversees Allen County's drug court and prisoner re-entry program, said the Bush administration did a good job of supporting alternatives to incarceration and prisoner reintegration, which he hopes the next president will continue.“When people are in the penitentiary, somebody makes their decisions for them 24/7. They're then released and all of a sudden they have to make all their decisions, and people just don't operate that way,” Surbeck said. “If you build more prisons, we'll fill 'em up. I've become more and more convinced that prisons are for the most dangerous people.”While Surbeck praised the Bush administration, Neil Moore, executive director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Center, said the administration underfunded Indiana's share of the Byrne-JAG (Justice Administration Grant) that pays for drug courts and drug task forces by 35 percent this year.Moore, Fort Wayne police chief from 1988 to 1997, said the next president must fully fund the grant and provide more money for community policing and victim aid.“I want to see implementation,” he said. “I want to see something that is tangible and not rhetoric.”Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York isn't optimistic about getting much federal money, regardless of who is elected. York said the Bush administration spent too much money on homeland security and not enough for local crime fighting. In 2000, York said the city received about $300,000 in federal money. It now splits about $70,000 with the county.York said he recently attended a Police Executive Research Forum with representatives from both candidates. Neither side promised much money. However, he said the Obama representatives promised more community policing money. Obama supported increasing by $1.15 billion funding for Community Oriented Policing Services, while McCain voted against increases in 1996, 2004 and 2005.Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries supports McCain. Fries likes McCain's support for more money for sheriff's departments to help federal agencies arrest and deport illegal immigrants. He also believes he's tougher on crime than Obama.“I want somebody that's been tested that I would be able to have confidence in, that, if we as local police across the nation need something to fight crime, that they will do whatever they can do to get it for us,” Fries said. “Because the way we look at it, crime knows no politics.” Complete Title: McCain Would Focus on Law Enforcement, While Obama Would Emphasize Treatment Source: News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN)Author: Evan Goodenow of The News-Sentinel Published: October 20, 2008Copyright: 2008 The News-SentinelContact: nsletters news-sentinel.comWebsite: http://www.newssentinel.comCannabisNews Justice Archives

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Comment #6 posted by FoM on October 23, 2008 at 20:05:08 PT

When I think of Clinton I wasn't really interested in politics but I remember the I didn't inhale comment and I knew he was slippery. Ever since the Kennedy's I would wonder if we would ever get a northern Democrat as President again and I hoped that day would come. We might be there soon and that makes me believe a dream can come true. I don't know how far reform will go under an Obama administration but he will listen I believe.
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Comment #5 posted by rchandar on October 23, 2008 at 19:36:07 PT:

So There You Have It--Or Do We?
The main question that I have is not theoretical; it has everything to do with the practical situation. This article is informative, but it leaves out the big question: how would this affect state laws and discretionary guidelines. Obama comes out in favor of treatment, while McCain wants to impose draconian penalties on dealers.While Obama's "plan" is probably more sane, a key facet of his social policy if elected will be this embarassing and counterproductive sentencing system--which has turned out nearly 3 million prisoners. At the very least, Obama should sponsor bills which give deferred sentencing and rehabilitation programs more voice in the criminal justice system. At best, he should speak out against criminalizing the user, and block any Congressional measures which try to impose harsher penalties (because the states are manifesting a trend toward lighter penalties).Then, Obama would have to back away from the heavy arrest machinery of the WOD. Cases involving unfair profiling and police procedure should be open discussion in the Supreme Court, and maybe he could make a point of bringing to attention the very real problem of injustice in many of these arrests. Just because Obama came out against legalization hardly means we couldn't work with him, and get good results.Remember, we had this same fairy-tale with Clinton when he was elected. Clinton, who proposed boot camps for first-time offenders. We shouldn't let up on this one; it was Clinton who drastically increased the number of arrests.Obama should not get away from this very central problem. As for McCain, I cannot say much; I just hope he is not our next President.--rchandar
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on October 20, 2008 at 12:13:49 PT:

"Mo' money"...when there's NO money?
If any Americans are thinking that the recent infusion of Federal Reserve Notes to the major banks means that the economic crisis in the US is over, and we can all go back to our nationally profligate ways, then they ought to lay of the booze; unlike cannabis, it destroys brain cells. What we are seeing is a long-delayed reckoning, or as someone once told me, 'karma delayed is karma magnified'. We saw the beginning of this process back in 2000, and it was only 'stayed' by the twin wars in A-stan and "Eye-rack". The wholly artificial pump-priming of that has now petered out, and we're left with a million dead Iraqis and Afghans and US and allied troops, a broken war machine, a de-industrialized economy, and a 9 Trillion dollar national debt.But too many in government still are laboring under the illusion that we can continue to afford the level of spending that has enabled the War on Some) Drugs to continue. The reality just has not sunk in yet that this nation is B-R-O-K-E...and can no longer afford the pointless expenditures that were its' pre-Crash hallmark.So all these right-wing authoritarian types can continue their fiscal 'pipe dreams' all they want, but the bottom line is rapidly approaching, and in the end the nation will have to make some sacrifices to get through this...and the first offering on the sacrificial altar, one that could be made relatively painlessly, would be drug prohibition. It happened before with alcohol Prohibition; it can certainly happen again. 
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on October 20, 2008 at 09:53:04 PT

"The times they are a changin'"
As president, I would continue these efforts to ensure that our nation's children are protected from the influence of illegal drugs and the drug peddlers are brought to justice for their crimes.”-the way I see it,"drug peddlers" are those who sell drugs both certified and uncertified by the FDA. Street vendors and multi- million dollar pharmacies are all doing the same thing, filling supply and demand. The "kid card", really? It is easier and cheaper and far more accessable to kids just to raid the medicine chest. While it is illegal to do so many high school kids grow their own. This just makes a mockery out of present prohibition laws. The real bad thing is many of these kids are A students and atheletes. If busted they could get a record that would ruin their chances of doing anything great for this country.As for continuing these efforts I guess he means he will continue to fund a 70 year old trillion dollar failure. I believe in free market trade. Remove the stigma and call street vending or cottage industry, what it is,entrepreneurism. This is unlawful governmental intervention. Laws and law enforcement at it's worst. The opposite of what we inherited from the framers has been perverted by the very people elected to safeguard our rights and heritage. McCain is an addled brained old fart with anger issues. Is this the best we have to offer as leadership for our country? 

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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on October 20, 2008 at 09:15:17 PT

McCain (cocaine) is making the same mistake
over and over again, expecting a different result each time he tries! Poor sob.
On a mission from God!
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on October 20, 2008 at 09:14:32 PT

Mo' money
“I want somebody that's been tested that I would be able to have confidence in, that, if we as local police across the nation need something to fight crime, that they will do whatever they can do to get it for us,” Fries said. “Because the way we look at it, crime knows no politics.”In other words, you want somebody that will will funnel more tax dollars to your program no matter what you ask for, how much you ask for, whether it is working or not. Just do whatever it takes to give you more and more funding. Got it Sheriff Fries. Heckuva job.
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