07/04/10 - James P. Gray
Century of Lies
Superior Court Judge James P. Gray (Ret) author of "A Voter's Handbook - Effective Solutions to America's Problems" + Dr. Evan Wood, director International Centre for Science in Drug Policy
Century of Lies July 04, 2010
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.
Oh, do I have some great interviews for you today. A little later we’ll hear from Judge James P. Gray who has a new book he’ll tell us about, but first up we’re going to hear from Dr. Evan Wood, he’s head of the International Centre of for Science in Drug Policy.
Dr. Evan Wood, he’s a PhD, he’s a lead researcher at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. He’s co-director of BC’s Urban Health Research Initiative, whose mission is to improve the health of individuals and communities though research to inform policy and with that I’d like to welcome Dr. Evan Wood. Hello sir!
Dr. Evan Wood: Hi, thanks for having me on your show.
Dean Becker: Yes sir. Now you have, over the years, investigated the situation involving the use of injectable drugs and it’s leading to increasing numbers of HIV and AIDS cases, correct?
Dr. Evan Wood: Yeah, my interest really has been on drug use and really the horrible toll that addiction has on our societies and our communities and certainly the use of injection drugs like heroin has been a focus of concern, particularly because of the spread of HIV.
Dean Becker: Now, you are also head of the International Centre of for Science in Drug Policy as well. Correct sir?
Dr. Evan Wood: Yes, I am.
Dean Becker: Now, tell us about that organization, please.
Dr. Evan Wood: Well, the Centre of for Science in Drug Policy has basically grown out of the realization in the scientific community that in the real world, tax payers really hold politician’s feet to the fire and we expect what they do to have some accountability in terms of, that we have expected outcomes, that policies are deriving a public good and this notion of evidence based policy is really what we’re looking for, for the betterment of our communities.
And when it comes to the illegal drug problem, it’s really been exempt notion and then politicians can basically just enact policies without any measures of affect or accountability and really looking at what works and what doesn’t work.
Of course, there’s thousands of cities in the U.S. where this experiment has gone on so there’s a great deal of experience to reflect upon and I can talk about other countries, but in terms of the U.S. it’s estimated that about 2.5 trillion taxpayer dollars are spent on the “War on Drugs” yet the price of drugs has continued to go down, the purity has continued to go up, drugs are more freely and easily available to young people today than in any time in our history.
So much so that people report easier access to drugs like marijuana than alcohol or tobacco. So certainly, the stated objectives of reducing the availability of drugs has not been achieved and of course there is a range of unintended consciences as well.
Mandatory minimum sentences are undoubtedly one of the most devastating policies for the taxpayer that the U.S. has had in a long time. States like California spend more on incarceration than they do on post-secondary education. You simply can not regain, have competitiveness in this world when you’re hemorrhaging tax dollars into locking people up when that is not achieving any benefit.
In terms of the violence situation in Mexico, our group, the Centre of for Science in Drug Policy, recently did a systematic review of every English language research paper which had ever examined the association between drug law enforcement and violence.
The results were quite surprising. I’d first like to say that I certainly do not want to be critical of police officers that put their life on the line every day to try and improve communities’ safety.
But the fact of the matter is and this is from imperial research that shows this very clearly, that the illegality of drugs creates enormous profits which are exploited by organized crime, so the Al Capone situation with alcohol.
Prohibition, has just been replicated with drug prohibition. So, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the illegal trade in drugs is worth about 350 billion dollars every year, so this is enriched organized crime.
What research shows is that any time law enforcement is successful in taking out someone from the drug distribution economy, whether that be a street corner dealer or a high level cartel member. This comes from economics.
It was even Milton Freeman, who won the Nobel Prize for economics and was a very conservative thinker, he pointed out that has the perverse effect of making it that much more profitable for someone to get into the market. It’s the laws of supply and demand.
If you cut off supply, it just makes it that much more profitable for someone to get into the market. So if you take out a dealer or a cartel member that creates incentive for violence because gangs with no recourse the law, this is all black market activities, will use violence to maintain or gain market share and that’s exactly what’s happened in Mexico.
Over 25,000 people now have been killed since President Calderón declared a crack down on drugs. All this did was unleash a hornet’s nest. It’s a horrible, horrible situation.
Dean Becker: Once again, we’re speaking with Dr. Evan Wood. The ICSDP has put together a declaration.
Dr. Evan Wood: So the Vienna Decoration is the official conference declaration for the International AIDS Conference happening in Vienna in July, in mid-July. This is the biggest public health conference in the world. Over 20,000 delegates attend this.
Basically the Vienna Declaration is saying that we need another approach to drug policy and the reason this is coming from the HIV community is that unfortunately this emphasis on treating drug addition as sort of a moral and a law enforcement issue has greatly contributed to the spread of HIV.
Even if you don’t know anyone who has HIV and you don’t care that it’s a horrible illness that people suffer horrible deaths if they get this infection and don’t have access to treatment, even the for tax payer, each and every case of HIV infection is estimated to cost about a quarter of a million dollars.
In this era where most people with HIV are on some sort of publicly supported heath plan, the Ryan White Act or otherwise. This is something, this is an infection that we should be seeking to actively prevent and use the proven public health tools that we apply to other illnesses and infections to prevent and treat.
Dean Becker: The use of clean syringes allows people to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS yet those who stand in opposition say that somehow it would facilitate or make possible the further use of drugs. Does it serve as a preventive in stopping drug use by disallowing the use of clean syringes?
Dr. Evan Wood: This question has been reviewed over and over again. There’s a World Health Organization systematic review. The U.S. Institute of Medicine did a review. They all come to the same conclusion, that not only do these programs reduce the spread of infections like HIV but they also protect the community by being a place where dirty needles can be returned, so they’re not being left in parks and other places where someone might get stuck by a dirty needle.
These programs are also proven to help recruit people into addiction treatments. So if you have addiction services and other services there you can get people into addiction treatments.
Certainly the goal is to get people off of drug and that should be our number one priority but these unrealistic goals of somehow we’re going to immediately get people off of drugs especially when we are putting the vast majority of our resources into law enforcement rather than treating this as a health issue.
We need to do what we can to prevent the spread of infections and the most effective way of doing that is treating this as a health issue and using tools that work like needle exchange.
Dean Becker: Alright once again we are speaking to Dr. Evan Wood of the International Centre of for Science in Drug Policy. Dr. Wood, going back to the Vienna Declaration one more time, you are seeking others to sign on to this as well. Are you not?
Dr. Evan Wood: Yes. So, I encourage all of your listeners to go to viennadeclaration.com and you can see that the people who have prepared this declaration include the President of the International AIDS Society, the 2008 Nobel Prize winner for medicine, the Head of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The heads of many U.S. and national health funded researchers have collaborated on the effort. Let’s stop treating this as a moralistic issue. Let’s stop burying our head in the sand and having these unrealistic goals about making the world drug free. Certainly we want work to keeping kids off of drugs.
Certainly we want to help people that are addicted to drugs and that is basically an evidence based approach. Make those our priorities but let’s look at the things that are doing more harm than good and stop doing those things.
Looking back at the situation with incarceration, as you probably know, it is estimated that 1-in-8 African American males, 1-in-8, 1-in-9, African American males between the ages of 25 and 35 are incarcerated on any given day in the States.
The majority of those are non-violent drug offenses. You take the primary breadwinner out of the household and the kids are left to turn to gangs or whatever else and the cycle repeats itself. Trying to deal with this through a war on drug approach was a well intentioned experiment that has been going on now for several decades and has been a horrible failure.
It has achieved nothing positive and it achieves many, many harmful things.
Dean Becker: Alright Dr. Dean, I want to thank for being with us here on the Drug Truth Network and I want you to share with us one more time that website. I think it’s important that folks read and hopefully sign that declaration.
Dr. Evan Wood: It’s www.viennadeclaration.com
The following comes to us courtesy of KXAN Austin, Texas.
Reporter: The capital city has been named an official “Drug Hub”. KXAN’s Erin Cargile is live in the studio with the story, Erin.
Erin Cargile: Well, Leslie, Dallas and Houston have already been dubbed drug trafficking cities and now Austin is on that list. The government has just deemed it a “HIDTA”, which stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area with the new name comes dollars to fight the problem. Now agents are finding tons of weapons and cash with arrests but one unusual discovery in the bed of a pick-up truck, a military grenade launcher. The only comforting fact is that it didn’t work but was found nonetheless. Live in the studio, Erin Cargile, KXAN, Austin news.
Dean Becker: I can think of no other person I would rather have on this program to talk about his new book, A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems. I want to welcome now retired Superior Court Judge, James P. Gray. Welcome sir.
Judge James P. Gray: Well Dean, thank you. Although that “retired” makes me sound awful old but I’ve got a lot of stuff going on and life is good.
Dean Becker: In the last few years I’ve been trying to rally my listeners to “do their part” as I call it, to become full citizens of this nation and I think that is pretty much what you book is intended to do as well. Correct, sir?
Judge James P. Gray: Well, Dean that’s right. We have a wonderful country. We have many, many benefits for living here and being blessed to, well, I was born here and others have chosen it. But it also brings some responsibilities and I encourage people to do jury service. I certainly include voting and I’ve run for office a couple of times and I’ve seen how important money and support is.
It’s really important to find good candidates of whatever your political beliefs are and then encourage them to run or run yourself and also to support them. It’s up to us. Someone will do it.
Just like with regard to our children. Someone will mentor our children and if it isn’t done by the parents or the volleyball coach or the chorus teacher or the YMCA or something it will be done by Charles Manson or the drug dealers or juvenile gangs.
Someone is out there to mentor our children and they’ll do it by default if we don’t.
Dean Becker: Now Judge Gray is author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs and though his book, A Voter’s Handbook, does contain a chapter or two dealing with the subject of Drug War it’s more all encompassing, if you will and I want to point to, in the first chapter, you talk about it’s necessary to minimize the harms that our legislatures do, that they sometimes write laws that have unintended consequences.
Judge James P. Gray: Well Dean, we have too many laws. A lot of people feel, particularly in congress or legislatures, that for any problem let’s just pass another law and as a judge I can say, that laws are important and it’s certainly a statement as to what we consider to be right and wrong conduct but it takes an awful lot more than that than just passing laws.
I state in my book, A Voter’s Handbook, that you mentioned, that we ought to follow the lead of your state of Texas and have our legislature only in session every other year.
We have too much legislation and also I put in there, like in the parliament of British Columbia and they have a requirement that you have to read by verbatim each word of each bill three times in the halls of parliament before it’s passed.
The second time they actually require them to read a paragraph, debate that paragraph and vote on that paragraph. Which actually will make the legislature actually know what they’re passing which I think would be a revolution in our country. Gosh, you talk about the illegal immigration issue, that’s the easiest one to resolve.
The problem is that the two main parties just don’t want to do it. They give lip service to it but many strong Republicans really don’t want to change it because they want the cheap labor and many strong Democrats don’t want to change it because they want all of this flood of people coming into the country that will eventually vote Democrat.
But, we can do it and there’s a short chapter in my book to show how but this is something that we really must change. Gosh, with regard to the federal government, I’ve researched it and I’m simply unaware of any vehicle to actually abolish an agency of the federal government.
Lots of abilities to increase them or get new ones but we still have, regardless of what you think of the FDR programs and New Deal, we still have a lot of New Deal agencies and programs that are still in effect. All I’m suggesting is: Let’s audit them.
Let’s look at each agency let’s say every six years, have each agency come to the federal government, to congress and say, “This is what we’ve done. This is what our plans are for the future. This is what our budget has been.” Then we can see how much bang for the buck we’re getting and if one of the agencies, for example has five programs, we can look at them and say that three kind of good let’s correct these a little bit but two we just don’t need any more.
You can stop that effort and we’ll reduce your funding accordingly or we can combine them. One of the big examples and I don’t have a great deal of knowledge about this, is the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Every Indian Native American group I’ve spoken with in the last ten years says they don’t like it. They’re insulted by it.
Why do we still have it? Well, maybe we need it but let’s just take look at each agency and see because government has become so large, so intrusive, so bureaucratic that today the only thing that government stands for is big government and we just have to pare that back.
Dean Becker: Once again we’re speaking with Judge Jim Gray, he’s now retired. He’s author of a brand new book, A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems. Judge, I notice in here too, you have a sub-chapter about the need to facilitate the involvement of political third parties. It has really become a road block to getting new ideas in place. Correct?
Judge James P. Gray: Yes it is, Dean. The Gerrymandering that we have seen, certainly in my state of California, but all around the country. The two main parties are perfectly happy and content to let, for example, the Republications will allow you as a Democrat legislator your state seat as along as you give me mine. So, they really make it so we don’t have much competition at all in these elections.
Or if there is, it’s only within the party but not the multi-party and that is not good for Democracy. Plus, they’re freezing out the third parties. Now third parties haven’t become major parties since the Republicans took over from the Whigs in the 1850’s but they have a really important function to play.
That is that they will get out new information, new ideas, new issues and they’ll get them on the table for debate. There’s been lots of times in the past in which one of the main parties says, “Wait, that is an important issue” and they start just taking it and making it their own, which is critically important.
Right now we are stifling third parties, we need to promote them and give them that opportunity.
Dean Becker: Another sub-chapter is Public Employees, Sweetheart Deals and this deals with the fact that individual states, counties and cities across the country are in many cases going bankrupt because they have made these promises, these arrangements with their employees, to take care of them for life at rather absorbitant amounts. Do you want to talk about that?
Judge James P. Gray: Dean, it’s unfortunate and I’m going to with quarrel with your language a little bit, they’re not going bankrupt, they are bankrupt.
They just haven’t realized it or no one has really focused upon it because they have commitments that are beyond their anticipated resources and as far as the sweetheart deal is concerned and now I can really talk about Orange County here in California, because I’ve witnessed that and that’s were I live, but that we have a situation in which public employees, such as sheriffs or other public employees, organize into unions.
That’s fine, but then, they will pay really close attention to the Board of Supervisors election. Why? Because the Board of Supervisors are the ones who decide what their contracts will be and so they will find someone and they will support that person and then, of course, once they get that person elected, now it’s time for negotiations and it’s payback time.
So we, for example, have agreements here in Orange County, where employees, say, are about to retire and they have one more year left of service and they’ve already worked it out, that they get, for example, three percent per year times the number of years that they have worked and that would be the percent for their salary.
So, if they worked 25 years, they’ll get 75% of their last year’s salary for the rest of their life. Well, Ok, that’s not a bad deal at all, but now they adjust the last year’s salary to include, well they don’t take overtime so that counts towards their salary – excuse me – they do take overtime and so they have an agreement with their supervisors to give them all of overtime in their last year that they can mange and they don’t take vacations so that adds up to their compensation so the last year they’re making half again as much as they were any other year and then they get 75% of that for the rest of their life.
That’s really called a fraud from my stand point but it’s done because the supervisors want to make the public employees happy and if they don’t, if they get elected and act fiscally responsible of course they are fearful of being voted out of office the next time.
So it really is a sweetheart deal and that’s the problem we’re having. Most cities and counties in California are bankrupt already and they’re going to have to start coming to grips with those things. They simply will not have the money.
Dean Becker: Once again, the book, A Voter’s Handbook, written by Judge James P. Gray. Your book deals with education, healthcare, illegal immigration as well and the portion that, of course, catches my attention and that is our focus here on the Drug Truth Network is the criminal -- and I like to put in a comma -- justice system here in America. Do you want to talk about more recent observations in that regard?
Judge James P. Gray: Well Dean, as you’ve seen and really anyone with their eyes open has seen, we’ve become an extremely punitive civilization and I talk about the concept of restorative justice that actually -- and gosh I can’t remember his name now – he was the district attorney of Austin Texas, I think, who was very much in favor of this.
Dean Becker: Ronnie Earl.
Judge James P. Gray: Yes, yes, a solid guy. It means that we’ll focus certainly upon incarceration for violent offenders. We all know we need jails. We need prisons. We need to warehouse some people to remove them from society but if they’re non-violent offenders we overdo the incarceration. Of course, it’s very expensive for tax payers.
Also, we lead the world in putting people in prison in the United States, where we have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the prisoners. It’s just embarrassing, to say the least.
What you do is, say you have someone who is a narcotics addict and they steal for their habit or whatever. You help them with regard to these problems so they do not become repeat offenders or recidivist.
We have programs for example that in northern San Diego county in Donovan State Prison, where they have a really good and effective but small drug treatment program and that means not only do they see videos on health but they really get into the issues of making good choices, of substance abuse, of violence prevention, parenting skills, job skills and that sort of thing. Plus, then they have an after care group where once they’ve been released on parole, they have a support group.
Recidivism rate from these people at Donovan State Prison is 16% in the first year. The recidivism rate for those people exactly in the same position are usually drug addicted and violence prone who do not go through this program and after care is 80%.
So, just think of the victims that are not victimized, the crimes that are not committed; the police, the judges and the jurors that don’t have to prosecute and have the trials, then we don’t have to incarcerate them.
These things work. Plus, if you take, say, a burglar, and you put him in jail for the right period for time – I don’t know – thirty, sixty, ninety days which ever is appropriate and then you put them on strict probation. The probation officer will literally get them up in the morning, if that’s required at the beginning and hold their hand and take them to work. Then you take about the first, the top 10-15% off their earnings and have them make those payments back to the victims of their crimes.
That means that they get the reimbursement, all kinds of good things start happening. First of all, of course, the offender doesn’t have to go to jail at the taxpayer’s expense and probably their families don’t have to go on welfare, so that’s beneficial.
The victims start seeing that actually people are paying these monies back. Their insurance rates go down because a lot of the insurance companies will receive these payments. The perpetrator, him or herself realizes, “Hey, wait a minute.
That act that I did really is expensive and it’s no fun to pay this back. I don’t want to do that again.” So that’s the sort of thing we need to get into and of course we can always talk about the War on Drugs which is the largest failed policy in the history of our country, second only to slavery from my standpoint.
That sounds like an exaggeration Dean, but I think you would agree that it really is not. It’s true.
Dean Becker: Alright, my friends we’ve been speaking with Judge James P. Gray. He’s now a retied Superior Court Judge out of Orange County California. He’s author of a great new book. I urge you to read it -- A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems. Judge Gray, we’ve got just a few seconds here and I want to once again commend you for providing focus for me and I hope many others in how we can go about making America a more free county.
Judge James P. Gray: Well Dean, thank you and thanks for your work. It’s really blossomed and you’re making an enormously positive impact. If I have about three seconds left, I’m going to say that also with regard to mentoring our children, I have a musical that’s out.
It’s meant to be performed by high schools or churches and the rest. It’s called Americans All and if you want to visit it and see and get to hear some of the songs on it, go to my website which is judgejimgray.com. It’s called Americans All. I’m proud of it.
It’s fun but it does have a message too and the people who have performed it so far really kind of enjoyed it. We have a soundtrack and it’s really fun. So, judgejimgray.com and go visit Americans All on there and I think you’ll have some fun too.
(music and singing)
We are Americans all.
Strengthened by God.
To help us stand tall.
We are Americans all.
Dean Becker: Most of you will hear this after July fourth but I want to speak on what the fourth means to me. I served in the U.S. Air Force, even though I was draft exempt. I was 4A, sole survivor, son of a SAC navigator who died on duty but I served. It was tough duty because I became a pacifist in the middle of the Vietnam War.
Today I see and hear about our brave men and woman who are once again, called to duty, placed in harm’s way while serving their country only to once again be handed an errand, not of honor and service but rather told to chase down a rogue holy man who can never be found. Then assigned another major war to seek out and destroy weapons of mass destruction, that also were never found.
Pride, honor, dignity and truth itself all suffer when we allow the desires and profits of corporate interests to have reign, to imperil and destroy, to wield power over logic and reality. We imperil our nation’s future by continuing to send our troops on errands of corporate desire and political pandering.
Their service is to be honored and respected, not turned into mercenary incursions. Until next time, this is Dean Becker wishing you clarity and courage to fight for We the people.
Prohibido istac evilesco!
For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker. Asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.
The Century of Lies.
Drug Truth Network programs, archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.
Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com