03/24/13 Kassandra Frederique

Kassandra Frederique a Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance discusses NY stop & frisk, Doug McVay of Drug War Facts re "policing by the numbers" + Song: "Who's the Pusher Now" with Ellen Bukstel

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Kassandra Frederique
Drug Policy Alliance



Cultural Baggage / March 24, 2013



DEAN BECKER: Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: Back in the studio again. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am Dean Becker your host and I think we got a great show lined up for you pretty much as always. Going to read a little bit here from an editorial from the New York Times.

“Walking While Black in New York

The New York City Police Department has a long history of violating constitutional rights by stopping, questioning or frisking people on the streets without legal justification. The city has steadfastly denied that the detentions — made under its increasingly unpopular stop-and-frisk program — have been based on race.”

With that I want to bring in our guest. She’s a policy analyst from the Drug Policy Alliance, Kassandra Frederique. How are you, Kassandra?

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: I’m doing well. How are you doing?

DEAN BECKER: I’m doing good. Is it Frederique?


DEAN BECKER: OK. Now the New York Times. I’ve got more from the New York Times. They have come out very much in favor of change to these drug laws over the past months. Have they not?

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: Yes. The New York Times have editorialized a couple of times on the unlawful marijuana arrests that are happening in New York City and state. They’ve been very supportive. I think that anyone that can read the report and see the facts and look at the numbers would be supportive of ending these racist and unconstitutional arrests.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s talk numbers involved. I mean it’s hundreds of thousands over the years. There was a report over 1 million police man hours involved in doing this stop-an-frisk. Tell us some numbers, please.

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: Recently this week the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Project released a report called “One Million Hours” and it talks about how in the last 11 years NYPD has spent more than one million hours doing these arrests. It’s important for listeners to understand that marijuana was already decriminalized in New York City since 1977. It’s been a little bit over 35 years where we have had decriminalized marijuana in New York State.

The arrests that have been happening over the last 15 years are manufactured and a lot of that has to do with the way that policing tactics are happening in New York. You talked about at the top of your show the practice of stop-an-frisk is what is leading to these manufactured misdemeanors.

In the last 15 years almost one-half million have been arrested for marijuana. Most of the time police officers will go into young black and brown pockets or ask them to take out what is in their pockets and charge them with marijuana in plain view when they should be charging them with marijuana in possession. It’s a classic piece of entrapment.

In 2011 50,687 people were arrested for marijuana possession. That’s more than can fit in Yankee Stadium. They also did that in 2010. The arrest costs us approximately 75 million dollars per year. It is really expensive. 86% of the arrests are black and Latino young men. 70% are under the age of 30. 52% between the ages of 16 and 22.

It’s really just an assembly line of criminalizing young black and Latino men. There really is no point to it. It’s really sad that the legislature in New York cannot figure out a way…well, they know the way to do it but they refuse to end these practices.

DEAN BECKER: As an observer who’s spent relatively few hours in the city of New York I’ve got to say this…down here in Texas and throughout the south we have this process of rounding up young blacks and Hispanics like mustangs on a prairie on Friday and Saturday night. It’s just what they do. This is just another means by which they are able to do it.

I want to read quickly from the New York Times editorial:

“Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack is heard urging Mr. Serrano to stop, question and, if necessary, frisk “the right people at the right time, the right location.” When Mr. Serrano asked for clarification about who the “right people” were, the inspector replied: “The problem was, what, male blacks.” He continued, “And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21.”

That’s who gets rounded up, right?

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: Yep. That is who gets rounded up and that the majority of people who are getting stopped and/or frisked. Those are the majority of people who are getting arrested illegally, unlawfully for marijuana.

It’s no surprise who the young people are who are getting arrested. Government data show that young white men sell and possess marijuana at higher rates than young black and Latino men but those are not the ones who are clogging up the criminal justice system.

DEAN BECKER: Earlier you mentioned 75 million dollars per year is invested into this effort and over 11 years that’s 825 million dollars that New York has, in effect, squandered chasing down young black kids on the street corner, right?

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: It’s really hard considering the amount of cuts that New York State has been going through. Right now we’re in the middle of the budget cycle and our esteemed elected officials can’t figure out where to get the money. I feel like if they stopped harassing young black and Latino men then maybe they would figure out all the money they are wasting on criminalizing our young people who are supposed to be our future.

It’s really expensive. Racism is really expensive. It’s a shame they haven’t figured that out yet.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah and what’s not really mentioned in this New York Times editorial is the fact that I don’t know how much of a record this puts on a person to go to jail but in much of the country getting busted for marijuana means it’s on your “permanent record.” In many ways as you are well aware of it can deprive you of getting a job, housing, credit, education, on down the line.

Is it the same circumstance there once they go to jail?

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: In New York most of the time people get a marijuana ACD which means that if you stay out of trouble for one year the record will be sealed but we all know how bureaucracies work.

Getting arrested for marijuana is real small. You can get kicked out of public housing. You can be deported. The immigration consequences for marijuana possession are really severe. You can lose custody of your child. Child Protective Services will be called in. People are constantly fighting losing financial aid. Some people can get expulsions depending on what the contract of code of conduct is.

The consequences are really severe. Not only are people being kidnapped off the street and spending 24 – 72 hours in jail without notice to their families or their friends the consequences and the things they have to deal with after being arrested are really severe.

The other thing that people don’t really mention is the mental and emotional harm from being arrested for something you should not have been. It’s really important and people are not understanding. This is something that most of the time the first contact that most young people have with the police officer and what that is doing to our community health. Community members do not trust the police officers and police officers cannot do their job effectively without community members.

DEAN BECKER: Friends, once again, we’re speaking with Kassandra Frederique. She’s a policy coordinator with the Drug Policy Alliance based in New York.

Kassandra, earlier you mentioned over 1 million police man hours invested into this effort. It brings to mind we had this sequestration situation in the past couple weeks. We’ve had this budget quandary and all this worry about money. Somebody pointed out to me if we were to end the drug war it might not be an exact match to that loss that we were looking for under the sequestration but 70 to 80 billion dollars could be redirected to something more positive.

In the meantime in Houston we have a backlog of rape kits. We have tens of thousands of arrests every year here for marijuana even though there’s a law on the books that says they don’t have to do it. What I’m aiming towards here is in just New York alone one million man hours – what could those police have been doing? Maybe stop a few rapes, robberies, molestations…who knows?! Maybe they could do something more positive.

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: I think the police officers can spend more time focusing on serious crime. I think police officers want to do good police work and they know that this is not it. The other thing that police officers can do … what would it mean for us to invest those 1 million hours in communities that are struggling and having officers serve them and have more police basketball games and try to rebuild community relationships that have been destroyed.

If police officers invest 1 million hours in doing community work with the communities that they serve what would New York City look like? How would crime be different? How would resources be changed? How would investments be used differently? How would community members feel about their community? How would it change the over-militarized way that some of our neighborhoods are policed? I think it would be amazing for police officers to do real police work but I also think that those hours could be used to invest in the community relationship between police officers and New Yorkers. It would be an incredible and important investment on all sides and everyone would win instead of the ridiculous, racist, expensive and unconstitutional, manufactured misdemeanors and really started realizing more important and investing in the better framework of what public safety actually ease and dealing with drugs in a different way.

This is not stopping anyone from smoking marijuana. These arrests …If we want young people to not smoke this is not the way to do it and we know that. We’ve known it for 40 years. New York has known it for the past 35 years which is why we decriminalized marijuana in the first place.

DEAN BECKER: It’s a preposperous notion that they …I want to close this discussion about the stop-an-frisk out but quoting again from the New York Times:

“The trial court also heard this week from Officer Adhyl Polanco of the 41st Precinct, who had taped proceedings in his station house. Mr. Polanco testified that officers were subject to a quota system, which required them to write more summonses, make more arrests and create stop-and-frisk encounters. He said that his superiors wanted “20 summons and one arrest per month.” The plaintiffs argue that a quota system put officers under pressure to make unconstitutional stops.”

I guess, Kassandra, to me this displays the courage of this officer and of many other politicians throughout the country and around the world to begin to challenge the logic of what we’ve been doing for 40 or 100 years. Your response, Kassandra Frederique.

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: I think you’re exactly right. The quota system is what is driving these manufactured misdemeanors. Officers have to write more summons so they have to stop more people. Sadly the way that they have decided to stop more people is by going to communities of color, poor communities and just racially profiling people until they get a hit so that they can meet their quota for the month.

Honestly it takes organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance for us to really stand up and really tell the people who are supposed to be serving us, the people that we’re paying our taxpayer money for their salaries how we want our communities to go and how we want things to work out and the services that we want to be invested in.

I think that the problem is this is actually not happening. If this was happening, if people actually cared about the people they are supposed to serve we wouldn’t have over half a million people arrested in the last 15 years. 100 million police hours would not have been invested in manufactured misdemeanors.

I don’t know if you saw this but this week the 5 millionth stop-and-frisk was conducted. It is such a larger system and a larger conversation about public health and public safety that I really urge your listeners …and thank you for continuing this conversation …for people to figure out different alternatives to what’s happening right now.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve got 4 or 5 minutes left. We were touching upon …I want to give an example. Elizabeth Warren spoke a couple weeks back decrying the failure of the drug war, talking about we need to undo mandatory minimums – that kind of thing. Earlier this week she says she’s not for legalizing marijuana. I see that as an uneducated stance taken by her because I think if most of these politicians could understand they’re empowering our terrorists enemies, enriching these cartels and giving reason for existence to these gangs they might rethink their procedure.

A classic example happened in New York about one week ago. A New York assemblyman who voted against medical marijuana was caught with a bag of marijuana in his car. Your response, Kassandra.

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: I think everyone is aware that the War on Drugs has failed. I don’t think I have met anyone who can say with a straight face that the War on Drugs is actually working. Mandatory minimums have been proven to show that they are a money suck and they don’t do what people had hoped they would accomplish.

I think the Drug Policy Alliance is for the legalization of marijuana. I think the numbers should get everyone to understand why that is an important thing for us to do. Over 2.3 million people are incarcerated at this moment or under some sort of supervisory. 1.1 million of them are incarcerated for drugs. Over 800,000 of them are there for marijuana possession. Marijuana prohibition is one of the strongest vehicles for the rise in mass incarceration in this country.

If people are not willing to seriously have a discussion about legalization then they are not seriously trying to end mass incarceration and ending the War on Drugs. Marijuana is the one drug, the one law that most Americans have violated or know someone who has violated that law. It’s just such a great example of how and why prohibition doesn’t work and why there needs to be a different way to look at it.

I love Elizabeth Warren and a lot of her opinions but her not thinking that legalization is something that we should at least discussed is something that I’m disappointed in.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, me too. Your point there about marijuana being one of the key drivers of this drug war…I would submit that if it didn’t smell so funky or skunky it wouldn’t be a problem at all.

Once again, folks, we’re speaking with Kassandra Frederique. She’s policy coordinator with the Drug Policy Alliance based in New York.

We’ve got just a minute or two left here Kassandra. I want to talk about your governor, the mayor…how are they looking at this? What’s going on?

KASSANDRA FREDERIQUE: Governor Cuomo has come out …he came out last June talking about his report for closing the loophole in marijuana further decriminalizing marijuana, making marijuana in public view which is now a misdemeanor part of the manufactured misdemeanor police in New York making that a violation so that shouldn’t be an arrestable offense anymore.

Mayor Bloomberg is on board. Commissioner Ray Kelly is on board. All 5 District Attorneys in New York City are on board. Law enforcement across the state are on board. The Police Benevolent Association is on board. Very untraditional allies are on board to end these senseless marijuana arrests – the number one arrest in the city and state.

Our elected officials are not answering the call. They are not listening to what New Yorkers across the state are saying that needs to be done. It’s really sad. We had different people talking about how they wanted to pass a bill. Last week we were in Albany for 2 weeks straight lobbying for this and they decided that they could deal with it after vacation. You know the saying, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

I am constantly flabbergasted how the lives of young black and Latino New Yorkers are not valued among our elected officials. At this point they cannot point the figure at Mayor Bloomberg or Ray Kelly. The New York State assembly and senate are denying young black and Latino men a fairer New York. It’s all on them and pretty disgusting.

DEAN BECKER: I agree with you 100%. We’re going to have wrap it up. Friends we’ve been speaking with Kassandra Frederique, policy coordinator with the Drug Policy Alliance. Their website is http://drugpolicy.org.


[game show music]

It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By It’s Side Effects!"

Dry mouth, constipation, rash, increased heart rate, blurred vision, glaucoma, urinary retention, chest pain, vomiting, arthritis, myalgia, epistaxis, pharyngitis, rhinitis, sinusitis and respiratory infections.


Time’s up! The answer: From Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals:

Spiriva. To breathe easier.


It's all in the timing.

According to new research, it takes an average of about two-and-a-half hours of police time to make one simple pot possession arrest in New York City. New York is a decriminalized state, so people in NY don't necessarily go to jail just because they got caught in possession - especially if they're a State Assemblyman, but that's another story.

On average, people who get popped for pot in New York City do spend a great deal of time in custody: an average of at least 12 hours, according to this new research by Professor Harry Levine of Queens College, City University of New York. The report was recently released by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project.

Professor Levine found that from 2002 through 2012, the NYPD made a total of 439,056 low-level marijuana possession arrests. They estimated that given an average of 2.5 hours for each arrest – a conservative, low-ball estimate – that comes to 1,097,640 hours of police time over that period, or as it's put in the report, quote: “That is the equivalent of having 31 police officers working eight hours a day, 365 days a year, for 11 years, making only marijuana possession arrests.” End quote.

That's just New York City, of course. Marijuana is decriminalized in New York state. In many other states, marijuana possession is still considered a real crime.

It's not only the police whose time is taken up by low-level marijuana arrests, there's also the time and resources of the prosecutor, the court, and possibly the jail or probation system.

In 2011, there were 663,032 arrests for simple possession in the entire US. If the rest of the country were like New York City, at just 2.5 hours per arrest, that would work out to 1,657,580 hours of police time in 2011 alone. The report's hypothetical 31 police officers would work the equivalent of eight hours per day, 365 days a year, for more than 18 years to make that many marijuana arrests.

Each year, the FBI reports that US law enforcement manages to clear just under 50% of reported violent crimes and less than 20% of reported property crimes. Those are just the ones that get reported, mind you, and clearance doesn't mean that anyone has been found guilty, only that someone has been indicted.

As legalizers and policy reformers, we're accustomed to being accused by opponents of being soft on crime. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Law enforcement resources are strained, so the question is being asked: Are we using those resources effectively, or is it time for major changes?

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay with Common Sense for Drug Policy and Drug War Facts.



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DEAN BECKER: Thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Once again I want to thank Kassandra Frederique of the Drug Policy Alliance. They’re on the web at http://drugpolicy.org

I want to urge you to check out our television programs. We’ll have 7 programs up by the end of this week. Those are available at http://unvarnishedtruth.org

As we run down to the end of the show here I want to read a little bit more. This is another New York Times editorial from March 23rd:

“Even law and order states like Texas which cut its imprisonment rate by 7% have discovered they can shrink the prison population without threatening public safety. Investing heavily in drug treatment and community Texas has avoided nearly 2 billion dollars in spending on new prisons while the crime rate has dropped to levels unseen since the 1960s.

But even as the national prison population has declined 20 other states including Arizona, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia keep sending more people to prison than need to be there.”

I want to ask you to please understand what you’ve heard on this show over the last 11 years, what you’re seeing in the newspapers and the major broadcasters. It’s time to end this madness called drug war. Please do your part. As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.



Back round 1935... Depression was ridin high
People trying to have some fun... smokin’ dope and opium
Government did what they do best... makin’ a mess
Made a crime that’s victimless... criminalizing cannibus

And the big drug money machine... sells Oxy and Morphine
Legals Drug get us hooked... a million deaths overlooked
Methadone... Fentynal... Halcion... Phenopbarbitol
Let the government take a bow... Who’s the pusher now!

Follow the corporate money trail... while decent people rot in jail
Guarantee full occupancy... for private prison industry
Caught up in a livin’ hell.. with a couple a million prison cells
And government hypocrisy... payin’ for modern slavery

While the big drug money machine... sells Oxy and Morphine
Federal laws still protect... drugs with deadly side affects
Percoset... Thorazine... Opiates... Amphetamine
Let the government take a bow... Who’s the pusher now!

War on drugs... a political joke... lockin’ us up for smoking dope
No reason for doing time... with a punishment ...when there ain't no crime

No cartels are runnin beer... prohibition made it clear
When you turn a market black... it’s hard to turn it back
When government gets behind the gun... IRS is never done
Our taxes pay the FDA... so the DEA can put us away

While the government drug money machine... runs like its on Dexadrine
Politicians legislate... so they can mass incarcerate
Look at the human cost... personal rights gettin tossed
Let the government take a bow... Who’s the pusher now!


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