12/27/09 - Lawrence Garrison

Best of 2009: Lawrence Garrison served 19 years behind bars, Neil Franklin, NJ cop & LEAP speaker, UTEP Prof's. Tony Payan & Kathleen Stoudt, Sanho Tree of Institute for Policy Studies, Marc Emery Canada's Prince of Pot, Paul Wright editor Prison Legal News & Dr. Joel Hochman

Century of Lies
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Lawrence Garrison
Download: Audio icon COL_122709.mp3


Century of Lies, December 27, 2009
The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.
Dean Becker: Hello my buds. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. This week we are taking a look back at the year 2009. I urge you to listen to this week’s Cultural Baggage where we look at months January through June. For Century of Lies we are going to look at July through December. First up we’ll hear from Lawrence Garrison who spent almost twenty years in prison for minor amounts of cocaine. This taken from the July 19th Century of Lies.
Lawrence Garrison: Yes, yes. My twin brother has another seventeen months before he’s released to a half-way house. Right now, we’re working toward commutation for my twin brother, so hopefully he can be joining us soon, on this program.

Dean Becker: I would love that situation. It would be a great day, wouldn’t it?

Lawrence Garrison: Yes, it would. It’s been eleven years and two months since I’ve physically seen my brother.

Dean Becker: You are one of the lucky ones. So many times, prisoners get in there and develop a hard heart; they don’t want to see their relatives or their relatives just throw up their hands and forget about them. But your mother cares. Your mother was there for you guys, right?

Lawrence Garrison: Well, yes. Every breath of the way, she was there; my mother, my grandmother, my great uncle, they were there. I could say, every minute that I spoke to her on the phone was preparation of building me up to this moment, here. I’ve never sat inside and not thought of, ‘what I could do to change the things; change my circumstance; change my brother and I circumstance and I have vowed to help my constituents, in and out of prison, to bring some type of justice, to this harsh sentencing, of crack, that has changed the African American community, as a whole.

Dean Becker: Has it not? I agree with you, Sir. It’s outrageous, the racial discrimination that goes on in, I think, all states and certainly in some states, like Illinois, it’s like nine to one, in this type of sentencing.

Lawrence Garrison: Right.

Dean Becker: Who was in the first prison you went in there? What faces did you see?

Lawrence Garrison: Well, there was mostly African American males, nineteen to twenty-five years old and the average sentence was twenty years. You had a very, very low percentile of white American’s there, that were drug convictions. Later on, in completing my sentence, I found out that the lower you go the more color you see, as far as white Americans. This is…

Dean Becker: Explain that for us, ‘The lower you go’.
Lawrence Garrison: Well, the lower you go; I had to… At the beginning of my sentence, which was originally fifteen years and eight months, I started out at FCI Allenwood. So what that meant was, I had fifteen points and fifteen points on the point system, is very high because at the time, my crime was considered a crime of violence, even though no one got hurt. There was never any guns or any type of force; no one was threatened, my crime was still a crime of violence.

At that time I was a first time offender and I just came into the system, twenty-five years old. So they put me in a situation, put my brother and I both in a situation where there were men that had a lot more time; a lot more violent history, than my brother and I. But they still put us in a situation like that, because of our skin color.

As we went down; with good behavior, as you work your way down the system into the security levels, when I got to a minimum, which is a camp which was supposedly no fence, I saw more white Americans, mostly white collar crime. A few drug offences, where they were sentences under guidelines for users; not carriers, not drug king-pins or anything like that, and mostly never crack. But I met more white American’s in the minimum levels.

Dean Becker: OK now, I want to back up for a second though, to when you were in the maximum security, you say it’s mostly young, black males…

Lawrence Garrison: Yes.

Dean Becker: …were they drug king-pins? Did they have the boat loads, the plane loads?

Lawrence Garrison: No, most of these young men didn’t have the equivalent of fifty dollars of crack cocaine. Most of them are there for ’conspiracy’, hearsay, which could give you a range from ten to life, in sentencing, just according to someone’s testimony. Not physically having crack or cocaine, just someone saying; getting on the stand and pointing their finger and saying they gave you a gram each day for a year. That’s for 365 grams, which can get you fifteen years.

Dean Becker: Really makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it? We are the world’s leading jailer and we’re damn proud of it. Next up we hear from police officer Neil Franklin from the August 23rd Century of Lies. Did I mention he is one of the main speakers for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition?

Dean Becker: We have broached the barriers, we are at the gate, it is time to kick it in.

Neill Franklin: It is.

Dean Becker: Your thoughts. Go ahead, sir.

Neill Franklin: Well, I definitely feel like it is time to kick it in. I think it’s time that we really focus hard upon the ills of prohibition. I think it’s time that we stop holding back and really show people what is going on out there in our cities and just how dangerous prohibition has made our cities, and, not just our cities - our small towns as well.

I think it is time that we demand the government to start really tallying the deaths here in the US that result that result from – either result from or are related to drug prohibition. I think there are many people who would definitely be surprised about just how high those numbers are. We hear the numbers from Mexico but let’s really take a look at the numbers of bodies here in the US.
I think that would really get most people to really start paying attention to this and realize that prohibition is the issue that we need to deal with right away. We have always had a drug problem, a drug abuse problem in this country and we will – but, let’s get rid of the violence first associated with prohibition. Then, we can really focus on our drug abuse problem.

Dean Becker: Exactly right, my friend, and it’s not just the street corner shootouts. There was a situation in Houston, about – I am losing track now, 3, 4 years ago – where in one weekend, I think it was thirteen young people, age seventeen to thirty-five, died because the batch of cocaine they got from their neighborhood dealer turned out to be eighty-five percent heroin, and it killed them.

Neill Franklin: Well, Dean, here you go. You know, when I was on MSNBC the other day, I was asked by Carl Lewis what would be my top three things. I mentioned the first one, which is the end of prohibition and it’s violence. But, number two, when I thought about it, and it was so quick on the show, but after I got off the show and I thought about my number two and my number three.

Number two would be to regulate and to standardize and control the drugs that are out there in our communities. Then number three to educate and the treat – to seriously treat. But, number two is what you were just talking about. There are no standards. There is no regulation. You don’t know what you are getting. These folks out here have no idea what they are getting in the junk that they buying on the street corner.

Dean Becker: Yeah, it… I heard Lavamasil, it think it was, is the current cut they are putting into the cocaine and what it is is a de-wormer, you know, that people are snorting up their nose or injecting into their veins because of this policy. It just drives me nuts.

I want to get back to this piece. It was a piece put together by Peter Moscos and you, both Boston long term police officers - guys who have been in the trenches of this drug war, guys who understand the problem and are seeking a solution. It was kind of nice to see that in the Washington Post, wasn’t it?

Neill Franklin: Oh, yeah, it was. It was. Peter did a really good job on this when he contacted me a while back and, you know, wanted to get our heads together to put together a piece to go in and, you know, he was very consistent on making sure this went in because it was so important. You know, the time that we spent - actually, it will be thirty-three years in law enforcement for me next month and of course Peter is spending his time there in Baltimore for a few years and really got tot see quite a bit and to understand quite a bit.

The time that I spent with the Maryland State Police, I spent most of that time, from the beginning, which is as a narc on the street all the way up through supervisory ranks and eventually to a commander of numerous drug task forces. So, I got to see it from the street level and how you deal with it on the street level all the way up to the millions of dollars that we spend, that we waste, in this effort.

Dean Becker: Next up we hear from professors Kathy Stoudt and Tony Payan from the University of Texas at El Paso talking about the situation with the drug war in Mexico and its impact in these United States. This taken from the September 13th Century of Lies.

Dean Becker: Now, earlier this year, the city council of El Paso had a bill and one of the line items in it said something about we would like for the federal government to at least talk about the possibility of legalizing drugs but then it all kind of backfired on them, didn’t it? Tony, you want to tell us what happened.

Tony Payan: Yeah, I think we need to clarify the record on that particular incident because I think it was misinterpreted. The resolution which was drafted by the committee on cross border relations that I served in at that time, simply said that we have to open the dialogue. That we thought it was important to look at different approaches to the war on drugs, including a dialogue that may contemplate the decriminalization, not even the legalization, but the decriminalization of drug possession.
It was a very mild item and well, my goodness. The media in town and then the national media ran with that item and they began to misread it, that El Paso city council had gone off the deep end that they were crazy… that they had advocated the legalization of drugs, that it was a radical resolution and the mayor vetoed that resolution based on that.

I think it was disgraceful of Mayor Cook in El Paso who is a personal friend of mine and an ally, but still disgraceful that he misinterpreted that and that he did not take the stand and took advantage of the opportunity in the national media to clarify what this resolution was about and why it was said.

Instead… I think that because the election for mayor was in May, he simply said I don’t want my contenders to throw on my face the idea that I was advocating legalizing drugs and therefore I am going to veto it. And I thought it was a shame that he didn’t clarify what it was. But I am glad that he didn’t to some extent that he did not support that resolution because that is exactly what prompted us and a city council member, Berto O’Rourke whom we have a lot of respect for to organize this particular conference and to try to open up the debate. In the end it gave us the courage and the momentum to continue this dialogue.

Dean Becker: Yeah, go ahead…

Kathleen Stoudt: …all eight members of the city council voted for this resolution and it was only the mayor that decided to veto it. You know, Tony and I are political scientists. We believe in policy analysis. We believe in reasoned debates, we believe in evaluating evidence and that is not really such a radical thing to be all about.
Dean Becker: No, it’ is not. And correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t there at least veiled threats that they would cut the money supply both state and nationally if they were to proceed?

Tony Payan: Yes, there were some of those threats that came down although like you said they were veiled. It wasn’t very clear, but congressman Reyes was suggesting that we may lose some funding from the federal government, that there might be some controversy coming down from the state of Texas as well although those threats, they were diffused and we never really understood who exactly was saying it and why and what it was that it was going to be effected – what items on the budget were going to be effected. But in the end the mayor vetoed that and [ ] that particular item. But in the end, here we are debating this very issue partly encouraged by the mayor’s veto.

Dean Becker: Exactly. Now, as I understand it, the Sunday night before the conference actually gets rolling, is that when the gentleman from Colombia will give a speech in Juarez?

Kathleen Stoudt: That is Monday night, Monday night at six. And Sunday afternoon and evening, that is when all the speakers are going to be coming, we expect to have quite a lot of not only local and regional media people but also people from New York Times, LA Times, San Antonio, Houston, et cetera. And someone is even coming from The Guardian Observer in the UK. So we will probably have press events with the speakers and the planning committee members.
And then on Monday beginning at 8:30 and going all through the early evening, we are going to be having panel and panel but we won’t be having dreary presentations and papers read. We just want short statements from the speakers and then we are going to have moderated dialogue more or less like Meet the Press style and then we are going to open up for Q and A from the audience.

Tony Payan: I am very glad that Mayor Fajardo is coming to town because I have a couple of important questions for him. I don’t believe that the war on drug in Colombia has been won at all. I think that Colombia continues to be mired in violence.

I mean, we are paying attention to the Mexican violence today but I think Colombia continues to be a society with high levels of violence. And I think that even though the great Colombian cartels like the Medellín cartels and the Cali cartel are gone, the production of drugs in Colombia continues. And most cocaine in the world is still produced in Colombia and exported from Colombia even if the Mexican cartels are now the major distributors at the wholesale level. Now that is an interesting thing because he may be able to explain to us exactly how the business has evolved and changed and transformed itself, adjusted to the new circumstances in Colombia and what may happen to Mexico.

Dean Becker: I want to remind you we did report on that conference. I went to El Paso and to the Cannabis Cartels and Crime symposium at the James A. Baker III Institute as well. You can check out hundreds of our programs from scientists, doctors, lawyers, authors, politicians, you name it - people whose opinions we should value – on our website which is drugtruth.net.

Next we hear from the October 18th show featuring Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Sanho Tree: The people in Bolivia, for instance, who were thrown into prison, sometimes waiting four or five years before they even see a judge, before they’re even charged with a crime, to spend that long behind bars, it is cruel, it is inhumane, but they don’t vote.

The problem is, Bolivian’s don’t vote in US elections. They have no voice in our system and how many people hear about that sort of thing, in your local newspapers or on network news? That’s the problem and it got so bad that some of these prisoners in Bolivia actually sewed their lips shut with needle and thread because no one would hear about their conditions or why they were there, these bogus charges. They even went so far as to crucify themselves to try to get some kind of international attention to their plight.

Dean Becker: Alright, we do have some other folks calling in.

Caller: Dean, did I hear this correct from TV just the other day? That the Mexican drug cartels have American policemen in their organization?

Dean Becker: I did not see that story. It wouldn’t surprise me. I mean, I know they have had border guards and customs agents and US Army working for them. I don’t know how you define ’with-in’ the organization but look, they make… How much is it Sanho? Fifteen to thirty billion dollars a year and they use about half of that to bribe people, right?

Caller: Well Dean, do you recall…

Mr. Sanho Tree: Exactly. They have a lot of resources at their disposal, almost an unlimited amount of resources compared to law enforcement and particularly in places like Mexico and other less wealthy countries. They can’t possibly pay their police forces what the cartels can pay them…

Caller: Hello, Dean?

Mr. Sanho Tree: …and so it’s very difficult to guarantee their loyalty. Even within the United States we see cases of common corruption from cartels and even domestic and international as well. I don’t know how rampant it is compared to Mexico, but certainly it does certainly corrupt law enforcement within the United States.

Well, arresting so-called kingpins, is about as effective as shoveling water. It’s kind of like how we keep killing the number two and number three heads of Al Quadia. [chuckling in background] We do that every other month, it seems. So here we get a press release saying, ’Well, we’ve knocked off the number two and the number three…’

Well, all that does is create job opportunities for number four, number five and number six, to move higher up and we’re seeing the same thing in these cartels. Which is why President Calderon’s policies of using the ‘iron fist’ against all the drug cartels, is almost guaranteed to fail, because you’re creating job opportunities for people who are within those unique organizations and who think, this is their opportunity now to grab the golden ring and to make all that money for themselves.
It’s time to play Who wants to be a Billionaire?
From the Mexican gulf cartel we have Mr. Anonymous.
From the top Colombian cartels we have Mr. Unknown.
In order to win this railroad car packed with hundred dollar bills all you have to do is connive, corrupt sufficient numbers of officials and kill enough of your allies and friends to claim these dead presidents. There are no rules, no laws and no way the government can ever stop your efforts.
Ready? Continue…
Everyone is a winner!
And our next extract features Marc Emery, Canada’s prince of pot who is headed to a US prison for selling seeds to us Americans. This from the November 29th Century of Lies.

Marc Emery: You know I could get extradited to the United States, at a courtroom in Seattle. I’ll be in Sea-Tac pre-trial for four to six, possibly eight weeks, before I’m sent to a federal correctional institution, known as a penitentiary, somewhere in the United States. So, I’d probably only be up and around, speaking like this, for the next two or three days.

Dean Becker: Probably most, if not all, your adult life, you’ve been working to share and bring the truth in focus.

Mr. Marc Emery: Well, two things happened to me that were pivotal in my lifestyle. Thirty years ago, I first discovered Ayn Rand in the summer of 1980 and I first started smoking marijuana in December 1980 and those two combined have basically alchemy, that kind of alchemy’s led to about thirty years of non-stop activism on behalf of liberty and for the last twenty years, against marijuana prohibition.

Dean Becker: As I was telling the audience, that there’s not the direct correlation, Tommy Chong was chosen for his celebrity, but for a different sub-text, if you will. In your case, it was your celebrity and the fact that you were working to get that truth pushed to the front. Right?

Mr. Marc Emery: Well you know, I’ve got this great resume of an extraordinary career. You know, we put out seventy-four issues of a truth telling magazine, Cannabis Culture. Three thousand videos from the year 2000 to 2006 on Pot TV. I gave away four million dollars from 1995 to 2005 and they paid for incredible things. You know, one of the great things is, it’s still paying off dividends because only six months ago the congress repealed the bar amendment, which forbade the District of Columbia from having a medical marijuana law.

Well you know, in 1998 I paid five thousand dollars to get petitioners out to get enough signatures to put that on the ballot. So the money I donated, to activities in the United States, are still paying off because I was the principle funder of the Washington D.C. Ballot Initiative in 1998, which congress intercepted with by passing the bar amendment. But that was repealed six months ago so now we have medical marijuana in Washington D.C.

That’s the kind of thing that my money went to and there‘s a good example of something good coming from it. That benefits people now. So, if some member of Congress, or member of the Senate, or member of the president’s staff actually goes to get marijuana, in the District of Columbia and they can do so legally, then they owe that to me because without my money that would have never happened.

Dean Becker: I wanted to point out here that the Barr amendment has in fact been repealed and the people of Washington DC will soon be smoking legal medical marijuana and as you can imagine Marc Emery still needs your help. You can help by contacting them at their website cannabisculture.com.

Next up we hear from the editor of Prison Legal News from the December 13th edition of Century of Lies, Mr. Paul Wright.

Paul Wright: Since at least the early seventies, the Houston jail’s been subjected to various litigation and everything else and yet, the reality is that it’s still a pretty bad miserable place. You have dozen’s of prisoner’s dying each year, needlessly, both as a result of brutality from the guards. Failure to be protected from other, more violent prisoners and the biggest killer is medical neglect and these are all the issues that continue taking quite the death toll on prisoners in the Harris County Jail and it’s been going on for some time now.

Dean Becker: Yeah. There’s another story in the October issue about Cory Weinstein. Perpetrators and Enablers of Torture in the US. Abu Ghraib wasn’t anything original, was it?

Mr. Paul Wright: No, it wasn’t and one of the points that I try to make when I’m doing public speaking and stuff like that is, the interesting thing is there’s a lot of outrage, both in internationally as well as some quarters of the United States, about the pictures that were displayed of the Iraqi prisoners that have --- raping, torture. Of course Seymour Hurst tells us that they’re still thousand more pictures that have not been publicly disclosed, including those of children being tortured by American military personnel. But we’ll leave that disclosure for another day.

The reality is that, there’s nothing that’s been disclosed, to date, about what has happened at Abu Ghraib that we do not report as happening on a regular basis, here in the United States, to American prisoners on a regular basis. The beatings, the sexual humiliations, the electroshocks, the denial of medical care; the whole nine yards.
Dean Becker: I urge you lawyers and prisoners out there to get a copy at prisonlegalnews.com.

Dean Becker: I left myself enough time to present my favorite interview of the year 2009. From the June 14th edition, the executive director of the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain, Doctor Joel Hochman.

Joel Hochman: I think that the so called National Prescriptive Drug threat that Kerlikowske was announcing in early April, is an exact example of the wrong direction to be going.

Being the kind of person that I am and the training I have, I went to his actual sources, data sources, that he cited in the press releases for that, and did a very detailed analysis and discovered that the data that they themselves cite as justification for their campaign; their ‘prescriptive drug threat’ campaign, simply the data does not support the claims that they’re making. There is not an epidemic of diversion in drug abuse.

If one assumes that all eight thousand plus overdose deaths in the United States last year were caused - all these were caused by prescriptive drugs, diverted, when there’s a great deal of doubt about the accuracy of that statement - then you still have to compare that to the fact that look, there were one hundred fifty billion doses of pain medications prescribed last year. So, what is the likely hood of someone killing themselves with a prescribed opioid? Eight thousand four hundred fifty-one over one hundred fifty billion. That is an infinitesimally insignificant probability.

So you’re not really talking about the whole picture of prescriptive drugs. What you should be talking about is that super small sub-set of kids who haven’t got enough sense to know what they’re doing, so they end up killing themselves.
Dean Becker: Alright since this is the end of the holiday season I am going to have a little fun.

Whether through feigned ignorance or convoluted belief in superstition or outright complicity and profiteering in his role of supreme drug czar of the planet, the Drug Truth Network is proud to proclaim drug czar Gil Kerlikowski the number one ally of Osama Bin Laden, the homeboy to all the violent gangs that prowl America’s neighborhoods and the number one friend of the barbarous cartels waging bloody war in Mexico, for failure to come on the airwaves and prove me wrong.
Darth Drug Czar you’re a coward, a liar, demon and thief.
Seems you can’t face the truth for just one hour.
Too busy looking at pee.
Dean Becker drugtruth.net.
Dean Becker: The drug lords run both sides of this equation. Do your part to end this madness and visit our website endprohibition.org.
Prohibido istac evilesco.
Should old drug warriors be forgiven and never brought to trial?
Should old drug warriors be forgiven, never brought to light.
For millions locked up behind bars, for millions locked up now…