12/18/11 Neill Franklin

Neill Franklin, Dir of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition + Drug War Debate Q&A, Cheech and Chong Xmas

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Guest: 
Neill Franklin
Organization: 
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
Download: Audio icon COL_121811.mp3
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Transcript

Century of Lies / December 18, 2011

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DEAN BECKER: 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.

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DEAN BECKER: Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. I’m Dean Becker. Here in just a moment we’re going to bring in our number one guest, Mr. Neill Franklin, the director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

I just want to throw out this thought. Is it just me or is the drug war crumbling even faster than before? Are you seeing reports in the media and elsewhere talking about its failure. You know, the comedians laughing a little louder - the media beginning to realize its failure. I think that’s going to be one of our main points I want to talk about today because I know he’s called upon on a regular basis for his opinions and with that let’s welcome the director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mr. Neill Franklin. How are you, bud?

NEILL FRANKLIN: My friend, Dean, how are you? I’m just wonderful.

DEAN BECKER: I hope you heard my question. We had you on-air there for a while and you heard some of those other reports. Neil Pierce, Washington Post writer, talking about how Obama is shooting himself in the foot by not paying more attention to this policy of drug war. Your thoughts?

NEILL FRANKLIN: It hit me right on the head and not just because his name is Neil. He’s absolutely correct. This has become a serious issue and here’s some evidence why.

There’s been some recent discussion on policeone.com which is a website of law enforcement officials from around the country and currently they are discussing the legalization of marijuana. Almost half of the people, the law enforcers who are commenting regarding this article that was written at probably a couple hundred of comments about this article which came out a couple days ago, almost half of these law enforcers are supporting the legalization of marijuana. Not quite half but we’re getting close. It’s a really good discussion.

Once we get the law enforcement community really moving, and it has moved quite a bit, this thing is going to be like a snowball moving down the side of a mountain. Obama really needs to take notice. He really needs to give this some appropriate attention. And really all he has to do is generate the appropriate discussion on the hill.

DEAN BECKER: I would agree. The fact of the matter is that whenever they have one of these social media “contact elected officials and tell what you think” for Obama it is always number one medical marijuana and out of the top ten it’s usually 8 or 9 dealing with the drug war.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Absolutely, not just number one but somewhere in the top ten there’s, like you said, number 4, number 3, number 6, number 7. It may be in a different form or slightly different subject matter but basically about drug policy reform.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah and he tends to laugh up his sleeve or try to ignore it or dismiss it somehow rather quickly without properly addressing the question.

NEILL FRANKLIN: It’s going to hurt him big time next year because we’ve got a lot of time between now and the presidential election - a lot of time. And as quickly as this issue is moving, as quickly as it is gaining more steam and more momentum, it’s going to be a significant issue for those candidates who end up running for president.

DEAN BECKER: When I hear of local politicians - you know, a newbie coming on the scene trying to acquire an officer that’s been held for years by someone else – I try to talk to the candidate but usually get the chief of staff and try to tell them, “I’ve got a win-win-win for you. Your candidate wants to destroy the cartels. Your candidate wants to eliminate most of the gangs. Your candidate wants to make it harder for our children to get their hands on drugs.”

They always say that’s some good ideas but they never call me back. It’s time for candidates to sink their teeth and use it as a win-win, don’t you think?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Absolutely. I would jump right on it. No doubt whatsoever.

DEAN BECKER: I had Joy Strickland from Mothers Against Teen Violence on my Cultural Baggage show this week and we were talking about the forthcoming conference coming up there on January 11th - 13th in Dallas. I was telling folks whether they’re in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas they should come participate in this because it’s going to be the first big conference of its type here in Texas and the information should be shared with these other states. Your response, sir.

NEILL FRANKLIN: I think this is going to be huge. I think you’re absolutely right, Dean. No matter where you’re at in this country and even outside this country, if you know about this conference you need to do whatever they can to get there.

Joy Strickland is one courageous woman. After what she’s been through with the loss of her son to teen violence and what she has done and how she is leading this effort in Texas is monumental.

I’ve been trying to get down there for the past couple years since I started with LEAP. I’m finally going to get to do it and I can’t wait.

DEAN BECKER: It’s really twisted here in Texas. We have a situation here where the District Attorney, Pat Lykos is here name here in Harris County, has been saying, “I don’t want to arrest these people for trace amounts of cocaine.” You know, the little corner of a bag, less than one-hundredth of a gram and we’ve had a major protest from six police organizations, unions here in this area saying they’re no longer for Pat Lykos. They want to arrest these people for trace amounts. They want to lock them up. They say by doing so they’re preventing future crime. I guess that’s kind of the minority report stance on this. Your response, Neill Franklin.

NEILL FRANKLIN: There’s another brave woman, Pat. She’s absolutely right. She’s headed in the right direction. She sees, she understands. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet with her during my few days down there in Texas. If I have to get in a car and drive down to Houston to do it, I will.

DEAN BECKER: Talk to me in the days before as I do have a couple numbers where we can reach her. She’s been my guest on my show a couple times. I’ve always treated her with respect. I did ask her one question and I don’t pound her by doing follow up, follow up to back her into a corner. So perhaps we could make that arrangement.

We’re speaking with Neill Franklin, my boss of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Neill, I mentioned earlier that our members are being called upon more and more for their expertise, their experience, their knowledge of this problem. Just last week one of our associates, Russ Jones, was on the show and we talked about his new book, “Honorable Intentions”.

NEILL FRANKLIN: I’m half way through that book. Great book.

DEAN BECKER: Isn’t it though?! With him I talked about it. I was a cop for a while. When I did it, when I was serving our country, I wanted to do the best job that I could to protect and serve just like I think 99.9% of us do when we take on that job. What has happened is that over the years and now the decades since I wore the badge law enforcement has been redirected away from public safety towards just filling the jails. Have they not?

NEILL FRANKLIN: I think you’re absolutely right. In many of the forums that I end up in conversations with my fellow police officers with that’s one of the first things that I’ll say. After three decades of doing this work - I didn’t sign on to the work that‘s being done now. I signed on as a law enforcer to truly, honestly protect the citizens from violent criminals, to protect our kids from those pedophiles, to protect women from being raped and to deal with domestic violence issues – to deal with people hurting people.

As the commander of the Baltimore Training Division and the Maryland State Police Training Division one of the things I used to do was go through the files of the recruits. I used to pull out their applications for when they signed to come on the job and read that paragraph of why they want to do this work. I don’t recall reading one that said, “I want to come on this job and lock up marijuana smokers. I want to lock up folks who are addicted to drugs.”

Every time I would read one of those statements it was about protecting people from people, serving the community, being a part of the community, being a part of an organization that is about serving the community and protecting the people.

That says a lot so when I get into these conversations I ask them, “So what did you put in your application when you signed on for this job?” It makes them think and they realize that we have made a turn down a very troubling street.

DEAN BECKER: A very slippery slope indeed.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Oh, it’s very slippery.

DEAN BECKER: Folks that’s Neill Franklin, the director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Neill, I think about this conference…as we were saying, it’s kind of the first of its kind – especially in the Dallas area, up there where all these other states are near enough that they could come participate. Texas has no means by which we could gather signatures and vote on changes to the law so it’s all the more necessary that we ban together and grow together and then used our combined weight to influence our politicians.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Here’s exactly what you’re saying. In 2012 four that we know of right now - Colorado, Washington State, Oregon and California – are trying to get measures on the ballot in the same manner that you explained.

Now, as those states and other states move forward, as the people move the issue forward and these states move into the legalization of marijuana – Texas needs to continue working with their policy makers, educating their policy makers and encouraging their policy makers in a number of different ways including votes to move and make these changes.

Because it’s obviously going to begin with the states that have voter referendums but then as it continues to move across the country other states such as Texas and Maryland, where I’m at, the policymakers will then what’s happening, understand that it’s the way to go and then they’ll step up to the plate and do those things and enact the legislation that needs to be put in place.

DEAN BECKER: For the listeners who may not be aware…Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, we’re a group of current and former law enforcement officers who have banded together to raise a voice, to demand a change to these drug laws, to speak whenever and wherever possible in that regard.

Neill, how many members do we have these days? How many current speakers?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Current speakers, I think we’ve just got last minute rush in the past couple weeks and are now over 160. We’ve doubled our number of speakers in just the past two years.

DEAN BECKER: Wow, that’s great.

NEILL FRANKLIN: And just so people know, speakers are not just…not just any law enforcement official can sign up and say they want to be a speaker and become one. They go through a vetting process. They have to meet certain standards. They have best the best that sign on with us. So that says a lot to have doubled the amount of speakers in the past two years.

Over the past couple weeks we’ve experienced a rush and I think we’re going to see considerable more in 2012. I think we’re going to see a lot more current police officers.

DEAN BECKER: And in doing so they face potential response from their employer. We’ve had a couple speakers who have born the rate of that response, haven’t they?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Joe Miller and Brian Gonzales were terminated. The interesting thing is that Brian Gonzales wasn’t even a member of LEAP at the time. He was a border patrol agent. He was just speaking to one of his co-workers as they were sitting side-by-side in their cars and talking about things. He mentioned that we really need to consider our drug policies with marijuana and prohibition as it’s not working. He talked about the murders in Mexico and he mentioned us. Before he knew it, a few days after that conversation he was being investigated.

DEAN BECKER: For mentioning our name…That says some good things about us, I think, in the long run. That people are beginning to realize that we know what we are talking about and, eventually, we won’t be ignored.

NEILL FRANKLIN: And there’s no doubt that Brian and Joe are going to get reinstated. We’ve already seen that with others who have been terminated. They file suit and they get their jobs back. It’s a direct violation of your first amendment right.

DEAN BECKER: That seems so ironic, for lack of a better word, law enforcement breaking the law. I don’t know.

NEILL FRANKLIN: When we walk across that stage on graduation day as a law enforcer we hold up our right hands and we say that we will…one of the most important things for us to do is to uphold the Constitution of the United States and that’s what we swear to do.

DEAN BECKER: Even me…old hippie like me…I pinned on that badge, strapped on that gun, swore to uphold the Constitution and I’m still trying to uphold the Constitution.

Friends, we’re speaking with Mr. Neill Franklin, the president of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We got just a couple minutes left here, Neill. I want to ask you, if you could, tell us what you are going to bring to that conference in Dallas.

NEILL FRANKLIN: I’m going to bring…first of all, common sense about this whole issue. Just to demonstrate to people how this…even though…many people say the War on Drugs and it always has been drug policy in this country has been about social control and I believe that’s very much true in some sense.

I believe that most of the people who signed onto this war did so with good intentions. They thought that they could actually keep drugs out of the country. They thought they could drug out of our neighborhoods and away from our kids through prohibition. We realize that has, in fact, failed.

I want to demonstrate to people…I want them to see the facts. I want them to hear the facts. I want them to see this from a scientific perspective. But I’m not going to just leave it there. I’m also going to talk about my personal experiences after three decades in law enforcement. And most of that, as you know, Dean, was spent fighting in the War on Drugs. I was one of the…probably one of the most aggressive prohibitionists in the state of Maryland – working undercover, commanding task forces. I’m going to talk a little bit about some of the challenges and some of the things that we did and how this whole thing has become so problematic from a law enforcement perspective.

DEAN BECKER: Alright. Once again, friends, that was Neill Franklin, my boss, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He’s going to be speaking up there in Dallas, January 11th through the 13th. If you want to learn more please visit Mothers Against Teen Violence, http://www.matvinc.org/

If you want to invite someone from LEAP to speak at your organization all you have to do is go to our website, http://leap.cc

Neill, thank you so much. We’ll be in touch soon.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Sure. Hey Dean…do you know how much I think about you? I’m forgoing the beginning of a Raven’s game to talk to you on this show. That’s how much I love you, man.

DEAN BECKER: I appreciate it. Neill, hope to see you soon.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Take care. Bye.

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DEAN BECKER: As promised, here’s part of the Q&A from the debate at Brown University between Glenn Greenwald and the former Drug Czar, John Walters.

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AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’m a physician who’s worked in chemical dependency treatment for almost 40 years. Drug involvement in the state prisons is grossly misleading. More than half of the people in the state prisons not on drug charges but on the charges of breaking and entering, theft and crimes to obtain their drugs.

The reason the North-East is the epicenter of car theft in the United States is because it is the epicenter of heroin in the United States so I think that these statistics are misleading.

Secondly, the availability of treatment in the prisons is minimal and fortunate individual who says, “That was the time that scared me into treatment” unfortunately the minority. Fewer than 15% of prisons in the United States offer anything close to what a variety of blue ribbon panels have recommended.

One of the reasons that treatment is not available is because of the costs of incarceration.

Secondly, you showed the growth of drug courts through 2006. Since 2006 they have been substantially declining because they are costly, because of the presence of social workers. They have flattened and in some areas, including Rhode Island, decreased.

MODERATOR: I’m sorry, can we get a question in there, please.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well, I’m looking for comments on that. I think the point made by Mr. Greenwald that very little of the rhetoric made about this actually assists anyone. There have been about 20,000 deaths per year related to all illicit drugs. 150,000 related to alcohol and 500,000 related to tobacco – our legal drugs. Yet we are aiming the sledge hammer at drug addiction because of our prior failure in prohibition.

Yes, we have reduced cigarette smoking and we have reduced alcohol use but we have done it through education and through public health measures and much less through incarceration.

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DEAN BECKER: First response is from John Walters, the former U.S. Drug Czar.

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JOHN WALTERS: Let me start with the last part because I would say there’s a way, if you think about it, if you turn that around…it’s absolutely true that the legal drugs of alcohol and cigarettes cause more deaths which just demonstrates that making things legal doesn’t reduce the destructiveness of something. It can, in fact, increase the destructiveness of it because it gets more widely used and it’s more pervasive.

So, that, I’m not sure cuts against prohibition or cuts against the current law as much as it suggests that you ought to think about what the implications are. I think, today, if we had a choice we would not approve these products for sale.

Abraham Lincoln gave speeches against alcohol because they saw the destructiveness to society. Now if we had a choice we might say we wouldn’t approve these types of dangerous substances because of what they did. We have a cultural legacy we’re having to deal with here.

On the prisons, I agree with you. There are many people that are under the influence of these drugs, I said that, who commit all kinds of crimes. But making drugs more available and more pervasive and more acceptable – that’s not going to go down, that’s going to go up.

On the treatment side, on the drug court side, look, I agree. Drug courts are [inaudible] but I don’t think it’s about the money. I think it’s about the way in which the system thinks about what it does. There needs to be some joining of health care dollars and treatment dollars as well as criminal justice dollars. In places that have done that they get much better.

I think in addition to prison treatment you need re-entry care because the point of re-entry becomes a critical matter when people return to behaviors that are self-destructive. So if I have dollars to spend and I don’t have enough to go around I would spend them on re-entry.

I agree that we can push these further. Look, I think there should be more leadership. Look, I worked for a president who you can criticize him all you want on a lot of things but he was the first one to say that he wanted to close the treatment gap. He talked about his own substance abuse problem and said that people should get to recovery. Many people who had this problem felt it was important to make this not a source of stigma.

I think there needs to be leadership here and it needs to be from a variety of national leaders and I regret that there’s been silence on that.

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DEAN BECKER: The response comes from best-selling author and analyst, Glenn Greenwald.

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GLENN GREEWALD: One of the issues that alcohol causes so many more deaths than drugs, which is true, is because alcohol has been legalized and therefore it sends a signal that it’s actually OK to use. I think one of the points to realize is when you dig just a little into the advocacy for drug prohibition what you’ll always find are arguments, implicit or explicit, about returning to alcohol prohibition and even prohibition on other harmful, addictive activities like junk food use or cigarettes because there is no way theoretically or rationally to distinguish between why we criminalize certain kinds of drugs and why we don’t criminalize alcohol and cigarettes.

The other aspect is you can talk theoretically about how we all wish there were more drug treatment programs in prison but the reality is that prison and the criminal justice system is not set up, it’s not designed to encourage people to get help for their psychological and mental problems.

Judges are trained in the law and in sending people to prison or imposing punishment. They are not mental health officials. Prisons, especially privatized prisons, are not there to help people and offer them assistance on how to deal with their disease. They are there to incarcerate people and to punish them. Just as a practical matter I think we all have noticed are in a period where there is extreme budgetary constraints and it might be nice in an ideal world to say, “I’d like to spend huge amounts of money arresting, prosecuting, sending to prison, or putting into drug courts a whole bunch of defendants and at the same time offering them all kinds of good counseling options and methadone clinics and other government-funded ways to get them off of drugs.”

In the reality that cannot happen because of resource constraints. The choice we have is to continue to put people in prison for what even advocated of prohibition acknowledge is a health problem or treat it like a health problem and spend that money instead on far more constructive uses. Those are the two choices we have and the choice that we’re currently on is to criminalize and preclude that far better option.

I think that alone is a reason to stop it.

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(sung to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland)

Happy drug war … are you listening
Thirty-eight million … sent to prison
Their locked up tonight
By the left and the right
Walking in a cell that’s 8x10

In the guardhouse … drugs are stored in lunch-pails
They all pretend … that they don't see a thing
A dollar’s worth of product fetches twenty
And you could score if you just turn around

Happy drug war … are you listening
Thirty-eight million … sent to prison
Their locked up tonight...By the left and the right
Walking in a cell that’s 8x10

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DEAN BECKER: Here to set the mood right for this Christmas, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.

CHEECH MARIN: On Donner! On, Blitzen! On Chewy! On Tavo! C'mon, Becto!" And then, the reindeers used ta take off into da sky and fly across da sky, man!

TOMMY CHONG: Wow, man! That's far out, man!

CHEECH MARIN: Yeah! And then, when they flied across da sky, they used ta come down to places like, oh, Chicago, L.A., Nueva York and Pacoima and all those places, y'know, and then land on top of people's roofs and then 'ol Santa Claus would make himself real small, y'know, like, a real small guy, and he'd come down da chimney and then he would give you all da stuff that he made, man. And...dig this, man...he did it all in one night, man!

TOMMY CHONG: Hey, just a minute, man. Now, how'd he do that, man?

CHEECH MARIN: Oh, well, man, he took da freeway. How else, man?

TOMMY CHONG: No, man. No, man, how'd he do all that other stuff, man? Like, how'd he make himself small, man. And, how'd he, like, how'd he get the reindeer off the ground, man?

CHEECH MARIN: Oh, well, man, he had some magic dust, man.

TOMMY CHONG: Some magic dust?

CHEECH MARIN: Yeah, magic dust, y'know? He used ta give a little bit to da reindeer, a little bit to Santa Claus, a little bit more for Santa Claus, a little bit more...

TOMMY CHONG: And this would get the reindeer off, man?

CHEECH MARIN: Aw, got 'em off, man? Are you kidding, man? They flew all da way around da world, man!

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DEAN BECKER: Big brother says the War on Terror will last forever. Merry Christmas

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DEAN BECKER: Alright. Hope you have a good holiday season. I hope you’re able to attend that conference in Dallas from January 11th through the 13th. Put together by Mothers Against Teen Violence. http://www.matvinc.org/

Want to thank Neill Franklin, the good folks of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition at http://leap.cc

As always I remind you there’s no reason for this drug war to exist. We’ve been duped. It’s possible the drug lords are running both sides of this equation. Prohibido istac evilesco!

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For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org