It’s extremely rare when the Obama administration actually does something correct when it comes to drugs.
After all, they’re still raiding legal medical marijuana dispensaries, still refusing to admit even a little bit that medical pot is really quite helpful, and show no inclination to admit that the “drug war” that’s been going on for decades is an abject failure, as we build more and more prisons and send non-violent offenders away for decades, when what they really need is treatment programs.
But hey, today I’m here to focus on the positive. Attorney General Eric Holder revealed Monday that he’s planning to significantly alter federal drug sentences.
According to this story in the Washington Post, Holder and the Justice Dpet. won’t charge nonviolent drug offenders with serious crimes that will subject them to long, mandatory minimum sentences in federal prison.
He’s also giving new instructions to federal prosecutors on how to write criminal complaints when charging low-level drug offenders, to avoid triggering the mandatory minimum sentences.
Further, he called for the expanded use of prison alternatives, such as probation or house arrest, for nonviolent offenders and for lower sentences for elderly inmates.
“We must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is, in too many ways, broken,” Holder said. “And with an outsized, unnecessarily large prison population, we need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, to deter and to rehabilitate — not merely to warehouse and to forget.”
This is all excellent, and long-overdue, news. I hope Holder and Justice follow through on this, and we can get legislation passed that furthers this goal.
Way, way too many people are doing long stretches in prison for carrying a tiny amount of drugs, and we all know that minorities are a disproportionate number of those locked up for drugs.
Good job, Eric Holder. Keep it up.
**Every Jewish boy in America remembers his bar mitzvah like it was yesterday. Mine was Oct. 8, 1988, and I can tell you all kinds of details about it still (my boy Pearlman enjoys, every once in a while, publishing my bar mitzvah photo on his blog. See the bottom for the beautiful visual of me in my best bar mitzvah suit).
Anyway, it’s a big deal, and should be treated as such by family and friends. But then there are people who go over the top with the celebration. I mean, way, way, WAY over the top.
Like our man Sam here, from Dallas. My cousin-in-law (that’s a thing, right?) Scott alerted me to this video above on Facebook. It’s from Sam’s bar mitzvah, and it’s possibly the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.
It’s a Vegas lounge act and the kid looks like Liberace and it’s just, well… insane. I’m sure Sam’s a nice kid, and I’m sure his parents meant well, but I mean, don’t you think in 10 years he’s going to look back on this in horror?
**So, being a New York City resident, I ride the subway a lot. And normally, all the ads on the walls of the subway cars blend together (If I see one more ad touting the miracle healing powers of Dr. Zizmor, ace dermatologist, I may hurl).
But for the last few weeks one in particular I’ve been seeing has bothered me. It’s an MTA sign reminding you to be careful on the subway platforms, and it has the statistic: “141 people were struck by trains in 2012. 55 were killed.”
OK, first of all, that’s a hell of a lot of people to get hit by trains in New York. 141? That’s more than one every three days.
But the thing that really stuck out? 55 were killed. Which means that 86 people were hit by trains going 35 miles an hour and survived.
How the hell is that possible? I finally went looking for the answer, and found it in this New York magazine story from earlier this year.
The part about a person’s head getting hit? Wow. Not sure I’d want to live through that.