Emanuel Pushes To Reduce Possession Penalties
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Emanuel Pushes To Reduce Possession Penalties
Posted by CN Staff on September 23, 2014 at 16:45:59 PT
By Bill Ruthhart, Tribune Reporter
Source: Chicago Tribune
Illinois -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel today called on the General Assembly to decriminalize marijuana possession statewide and to reduce the penalty to a misdemeanor for those caught with 1 gram or less of any controlled substance. During 90 minutes of testimony before the House-Senate Joint Criminal Reform Committee in Chicago, Emanuel encouraged lawmakers to challenge the “assumptions that are embedded in the criminal justice system.” The mayor argued that reducing the penalties for minor drug possession would allow the city and state to focus their efforts on more violent crime. 
“It’s time, in my view, to free up our criminal justice system to address our real public safety challenges and build on the progress that has been made,” Emanuel said. The proposed changes, the mayor said, would “change, not just the criminal system, and the fact that we’ll save time and money, but it also will change people’s lives. Some who are walking around with a felony, their employment prospects, their job prospects, their lives are on a different trajectory than if they had a misdemeanor associated with them.”The mayor’s proposal is being viewed in some quarters as a way to build support for his big push to get lawmakers to toughen penalties for gun crimes. That ran into opposition in Springfield last November from African-American lawmakers who voiced concerns that increased incarceration instead of rehabilitation would ill-serve a community beset by high unemployment, high rates of incarceration and few jobs for recently released inmates.Asked by lawmakers today if he only would push for the reduced drug possession penalties if he got stiffer penalties for gun crimes, Emanuel said he wouldn’t answer hypothetical questions, but wanted to see a comprehensive criminal justice reform package, adding that “the details will matter.”Chicago already passed a law in 2012 that allowed police to issue tickets of $250 to $500 for someone caught with 15 grams or less of pot — the equivalent of about 25 cigarette-sized joints. Emanuel recommended at the hearing that police officers across Illinois be allowed to “have the same judgment to issue tickets instead of arresting those who possess small amounts of marijuana.”The idea of changing possession of small amounts of any controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor is a new step for Emanuel, although such reductions in sentencing have been pushed by other elected officials, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. The Emanuel administration estimates that 7,000 people are arrested each year for possession of 1 gram or less of a drug.For Emanuel, who is up for re-election in February, the proposals could help him on two fronts: at the state Capitol and in city voting booths.Easing sentencing for less-violent crimes such as drug possession could help Emanuel win backing from state lawmakers who have been reluctant to a pass tougher sentencing measure for gun crimes. But pushing for such liberal sentencing reforms also could help Emanuel politically as the centrist Democrat braces for challenges from the political left and works to improve his low approval rating, particularly among African-American voters, in advance of his upcoming campaign for a second term.Newshawk: Universer Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author:  Bill Ruthhart, Tribune ReporterPublished: September 23, 2014Copyright: 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLCWebsite: Justice Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by Universer on September 24, 2014 at 19:45:00 PT
OT: Maryland Decrim Tutorial's decriminalization law goes into effect on October 1...well, such as it is.The bag you keep it in could still lock you up.Free State, indeed.
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Comment #3 posted by Universer on September 24, 2014 at 19:26:31 PT
OT: WashPo - 2016 Starts Today, At Least In Cali, I hope Oregon passes. Alaska would be icing, but Oregon joining D.C. (a virtual certainty (Congressional interference notwithstanding) and Florida (polling consistently very strong for medical) would be the most delicious cake.Then soon California will build us a wall of Pacific Coast freedom.
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Comment #2 posted by Universer on September 24, 2014 at 19:09:16 PT
OT: HuffPo - When Jury Nullifies, NH Def Not Guilt particularly like this passage:-- Juror Cathleen Converse, self-described as a "straitlaced little old lady," explained her reasoning in an interview with Free Talk Live."Mr. Darrell is a peaceful man," she said. "He grows for his own personal religious and medicinal use. I knew that my community would be poorer rather than better off had he been convicted.” --
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Comment #1 posted by observer on September 24, 2014 at 14:25:06 PT
Very Interesting
In the late 80's, following the tragic, sensationalized and ostensible* cocaine overdose of basketball star Len Bias, Democratic politicians were knocking over one another to ratchet up the harshness of laws against "drugs" ... cocaine certainly, but "drugs" always means especially "marijuana" in the U.S. whether or not explicitly mentioned. So today, these lukewarm moves in the direction of freedom are appreciated. Even career party machine politicians like Emanuel are being forced to bend a little, indicative of the groundswell of support for not jailing people over pot. (If not the "Legalization" word too, which tends to scare people.) -----* autopsy revealed that Len Bias had suffered from Marfan's syndrome, a fact lost in the political stampede to outdo one another in anti-drug (pot) harshness. In full-on "any excuse will do" mode, police, prosecutor and politician alike used Len Bias and his tragic death to further fleece the public through taxes, lost freedoms, and increased slave-labour imprisonments, to boot. Government/media rhetoric played up the coke/crack-baby propaganda-myth, but the real target was people involved with marijuana and especially pot legalization. Sweet deal for the police state, raw deal for the rest of us. But entirely typical.
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