07/15/16 Roger Goodman

LIVES MATTER: Wash Representative Roger Goodman & LEAP board member Diane Goldstein re blowback and needless deaths on both sides of the law because of drug war tactics.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, July 15, 2016
Roger Goodman



JULY 15, 2016


DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends, this is Dean Becker. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Here in just a little while we'll hear from Diane Goldstein, on the board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. But first:

You know, it's been a rather somber week, a time of reflection and introspection for a lot of people. Couple of presidents and ex-presidents got together to talk about the situation in Dallas, where five police were killed. Lot of #BlackLivesMatter protests going on around the country. And here to talk about this situation, from the 45th District in Washington, I'm glad to be speaking with my good friend, State Representative Roger Goodman. Hello, Roger.

ROGER GOODMAN: Hi Dean, it's good to be talking with you again.

DEAN BECKER: Roger, am I right? It's been a time of great introspection for a lot of people, has it not?

ROGER GOODMAN: Yeah, I mean, we've unfortunately gone through this cycle too many times. This time we had a really, I mean, it's way out of hand, on both sides, and there doesn't seem to be a resolution in sight. We have these tragic incidences, we have a call for action, we have grief, and, you know, retribution, and petitions are signed, and, you know, but nothing seems to happen. We're going round and round, and I just believe that we have to pause and be respectful and try to bring people together and build understanding, and that's a lot of hard work. That's actually something I'm trying to do here in Washington state.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and Washington state is amongst those that have legalized marijuana and that have developed a new posture, a new attitude towards those users of drugs. Seattle was amongst the first to come up with the law enforcement assisted diversion scenario. How is that working out in your state, sir?

ROGER GOODMAN: Well, it really, really is working very well. We have forced a culture shift. We really just do not look at drug use as a criminal matter anymore. And, which is, it was always a wrongheaded way of looking at it. But yes, we now have a fully functioning, regulated market for marijuana. We also have as in many other places in the country a heroin addiction problem, and, which is very complicated. But we are moving to create safe consumption spaces for heroin. We're also moving to have medication assisted treatment, you know, substituting other medications for those who are addicted to heroin. So, it's really not a criminal matter, and that's really the key. The war on drugs was just such a wrongheaded policy, such a corrosive policy, to treat drug use as a criminal matter.

DEAN BECKER: But, Representative Goodman, you know, I want to bring up something that's non-tangential, I suppose, but a couple of weeks back, in Houston, we had a major media discovery, if you will, that 16 young people, mostly, you know, throwaways, runaways, were found passed out in the city park in 95 degree heat because they had used that quote "synthetic marijuana" K2, or kush, or whatever you want to call it. And just today, I see in the New York Times, they have 22 individuals that were found in a subway station passed out on the same stuff. Do you have that problem in Washington?

ROGER GOODMAN: Not at all. We have no use of, actually, we do, and I'll tell you what it is. In general, as I said, we have a well functioning regulated market for real marijuana. By the way, the evidence is very clear so far that since we have legalized, you know, since we have ended marijuana prohibition up here in Washington state, eighth graders are using less marijuana. It's just not cool anymore, you know, because their grandma's using it, you know, it's, there's no forbidden fruit, you know what I mean? Tenth grade and twelfth grade use of marijuana has remained stable, it has not gone up.

So the legalization, you know, the end of prohibition has not affected, as a matter of fact, we've seen a reduction in use among the younger ones. Twelfth graders are reporting that marijuana's more difficult to obtain, because it is a more regulated product now. We have completely undercut the black market, and so, and DUIs are way down, so we have impaired driving, which is very interesting, people instead of drinking beer are using marijuana instead, and not driving. When you drink alcohol, you think you can do anything, so they go out and drive and drive drunk and kill people. So we've had significantly reduced deaths and injuries on our roadways, because of substitution away from alcohol. So, I mean, all in all, our new regulatory system for marijuana should be a model for the nation. We were the first in the world, along with Colorado, and so far it's going very well.

Of course, we're bringing in revenue, as well. So, as to fake or synthetic marijuana, there's not a problem at all, because the real stuff is available. So there's no, you know, people aren't trying to find it, because it's available, you can just go to the store, if you're 21 years and older, you just go and buy it, you know.


ROGER GOODMAN: Now, the only place where it's happening is on the military bases. We have a lot of military installations here in Washington state. We're on the coast, we have naval bases, we have air force bases, we have army bases, and that's where the synthetic marijuana and overdoses and other injuries are taking place, because the armed forces are not permitted to use it, and it's not allowed on the base, and so that's where it's happening. It's very interesting. So where marijuana in its organic form, in its safe form, is not available, then people poison themselves. This is one of the, you know, the iron laws of prohibition, whenever you prohibit something people will come up with something more toxic and more easily concealable, and more harmful, and so that's what we're seeing with the synthetic marijuana, in places where marijuana's not available.

DEAN BECKER: And, I think that's just representative, indicative, of the failing of prohibition. I always talk about we're empowering our terrorist enemies, enriching barbarous cartels, creating gangs and more dangerous products being distributed to our kids. Seems like a no-brainer, some politician at the top dog level, you know, president, attorney general, somebody could win by just stating that. And it's time to end the madness.

ROGER GOODMAN: Yeah. Well, I ran for office, it's been, I've been a public official for a dozen years now here in Washington state. I'm now the chair of the Public Safety Committee, I'm in charge of our criminal justice system in this state, and I ran ten years ago on a platform of ending the drug war. They came out and they hit me hard, and my poll numbers shot up, because the public knew that it was a failed policy, and now, if any politician were to run on like, cranking up the drug war again, there's no way he could win. So we really have changed the culture.

DEAN BECKER: I think even in Texas, and probably many other states, and in cities like Houston's, the mayor, the police chief, the sheriff, the DA, they know we need to change, but they're kind of stuck in the past, stuck to that old propaganda and hysteria wave. I'm wanting to put together a, you know, law enforcement assisted diversion group here in Houston. What might you say to those officials that I'm wanting to influence?

ROGER GOODMAN: Well, it's working here. We have been quite progressive in our criminal justice practices for a while here up in Seattle and Washington state. And so now, I mean, you hear about diversion programs, you know, you get arrested and you get put in jail, and then you go to drug court or something like that, and you get treatment. Well, we're not diverting you after you've been arrested and convicted, and, you know, are in jail. We're diverting you even before you get arrested. This is pre-arrest diversion, where law enforcement are working with people in the community to identify young people who are socially dislocated and sort of headed down the wrong path. And watching them, and supporting them, and diverting them into, you know, therapeutic programs and so forth, before they're even arrested. It was very difficult to get law enforcement to understand, because, you know, their job is to arrest somebody if they're violating the law.

And yet, these young people who are violating the law, the moment you arrest them, it's the beginning of a downward spiral. The contact with the criminal justice system just ruins their life. And so we have peers, peer, you know, people of the same age and the same community working with the law enforcement to identify those who are about to get in trouble, and then intervening before they even get arrested, and giving them the help they need. And this is what we call law enforcement assisted diversion, LEAD. It's a model that we're trying to replicate around the country, and it's very successful, it's been evaluated scientifically to show that it reduces bad behavior, reduces re-offense, and just, it's just a great example.

I do want to talk about these police shooting, both the police shooting others, and others shooting the police. I have just been named co-chair of a state legislative task force on police use of deadly force, and it's a very contentious issue. Police do not want to be sitting at the table. They don't want to talk. I understand, I understand they're afraid, I understand that, you know, they feel like everybody hates them. But frankly, we need to build understanding. We need to convey to communities, particularly communities of color, vulnerable communities, under-represented communities, how difficult the job of a police officer is. And so, that's part of this effort, is to bring people together.

So we have a Latino community and the black community, we've got the native American community, we've got all the stakeholders sitting at the table, along with the various police agencies, and then on the other side, we need the police agencies to understand how they are perceived now by these communities, and it's not a very charitable view, and, you know, if someone in the African-American community says, you know, see you later to your friend, they touch, they shake hands, they say please be safe, because they don't know if their friend, if they're going to see their friend again. This is through the community. This is how -- everyone is afraid. The police are afraid, the under-represented communities are afraid, and we really have to break through that fear, and what we're doing is bringing everybody together, to build that understanding. And frankly, I -- and we're making progress, we are understanding, you know, more about how you need to be trained better, understanding more about how police have to work with the community, not be sitting in their cruisers and driving around, but actually get to know people and establish relationships.

But, you know, it's the war on drugs that started all this, and that's what I wanted to talk about. The war on drugs has had, this is a legacy of the war on drugs. What we're seeing today, these police shootings, is a legacy of the war on drugs.

DEAN BECKER: It was a gradual process, but we slowly dissolved our basic constitutional and human rights in the name of drug war, and just escalated the violence and the attitude over the decades, have we not?

ROGER GOODMAN: I mean, if it all started -- well, okeh, it started a hundred years ago, the Harrison Narcotics Act, you know, 1914, but really, it was President Nixon, 1970, the Controlled Substances Act. John Ehrlichman, President Nixon's counsel, who by the way is from Seattle, and I work with his son, Peter Ehrlichman, a very prominent attorney, to help end the drug war, it's funny that Peter is working with me to sort of do penance for what his father wrought on America.

But, it's all on tape, you know, you know, the book, Dan Baum's book, Smoke And Mirrors, one of the better books to read about the history of the drug war. John Ehrlichman was sitting in the Oval Office with the president, and the president was like, what are we going to do about the blacks? And John Ehrlichman said, well, how about a war on drugs? Because we don't, you know, we can't talk about the Vietnam War, that's too hot right now. We can't talk about the blacks, but we can talk about drugs. And, Nixon said, oh that's a great idea. And so that's really how the war on drugs started. It wasn't about the drugs, it was about control of the blacks. And it's, again, it's all on tape, this isn't made up, and John Ehrlichman recently has written much more about this, this is an intentional strategy.

And so here we are now, a generation or two later, with the black community getting shot at by the police, and so what are we going to do about the blacks, well, we're shooting them dead in the streets, is what's going on. But, it's not, I just don't want to be blaming the police for this. We started a dynamic back then, which created laws that were unworkable. We gave law enforcement an assignment that could not be accomplished, to control drug use. It was actually an attempt at social control. And so because the laws weren't respected, excuse me, because the laws weren't respected, law enforcement wasn't respected.

And so we've now gone a generation or two with people looking at law enforcement as the enemy. You know, they're coming to get us, they're not there to protect us. And particularly under-represented communities, communities of color. And so because of the war on drugs, because of the drug laws, we didn't respect the law, we didn't respect law enforcement, that started the adversarial relationship, and now everybody's shooting each other. And so it's the war on drugs that brought all this on, and we've got to, we have to stop it.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we're speaking with Roger Goodman, representative for the state of Washington. Point them to the web, places where they can learn about Washington state and your work.

ROGER GOODMAN: RogerGoodman.org.

DEAN BECKER: I'm still looking for those folks willing to help set up a LEAD program in Houston. Contact Dean@DrugTruth.net.

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As we're recording this interview, it was less than a week ago that five cops were gunned down in the city of Dallas following the brutal, some say murder, of two black men here in the US. And, a friend of mine, an associate, on the board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a woman with 20 years' experience wearing the badge, wrote a piece that's appeared in a couple of places: Vice, Under The Influence, and perhaps others. With that, I want to welcome to this show Diane Goldstein. Hello, Diane.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Hey, Dean, thank you so much for having me on, like always, I think what you're doing is so valuable, not just to LEAP as an organization, but for the greater good.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you for that, Diane. I do appreciate that. Now, the one thing that, to me, resonates, it's part of the plank, it's part of the platform, it's part of the understanding of LEAP, and that is that we've overdone it. We've focused on the wrong people. And we've created this sense of, oh, despondency and despair, and revulsion, for some of the work that our brothers and sisters in law enforcement do, and particularly in the black community. Have we not overdone it, Diane?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: No, absolutely, I think largely when you look at the history of our drug laws, and our drug enforcement, it's, you know, you have to go back, you know, over a hundred years. We -- and we forget, you know, there's the old adage, is that if you don't look back at history you're doomed to repeat it. And we're repeating it right now. You know, whether you want to talk about the infrastructure of alcohol prohibition, or the way our drug laws were enacted, our drug laws have never been enacted around the issue of actually protecting the public. Our drug laws have always had political ideology behind it, and have been solely enacted based on who was using drugs. And so, what has happened, very predictably, is that our enforcement strategies have resulted in disparities in communities of color because that's where we enforce them as a mechanism of, you know, trying to stop crime from occurring instead of looking at so many of the other factors that are impacting communities of color.

You know, we have to start looking at public safety, we have to redefine it. Public safety is not the sole responsibility of law enforcement, and as Chief Brown so movingly put it this last week, since the deaths in Dallas, we're asking our police to do too much. We need to roll back policing, not increase it.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, David Brown, Dallas police chief, was talking about their becoming social workers and dog catchers as well as, you know, drug war soldiers, and I guess, in this over-reach, in demanding so much of law enforcement, we've simplified things too much in some cases, and by that I mean they roll down the street, they look for cars with bad plates or missing a turn signal or whatever, but that focus is nearly always in poorer communities, often in black and Hispanic communities. Am I right?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, because, quite frankly, is, law enforcement has forgotten the historical record of racism in drug laws, and are using drug laws as a tool, and it's a very poorly used tool. I mean, you know, whether we want to talk about the impact of drug raids, and, you know, everything that we've done to try to prevent drugs from coming into our country, none of it has worked. And so, you know, I use the term, and I don't use this lovingly, is what law enforcement has become has been the regulatory police. And, whether, you know, we have a war not on drugs but a war on people, we have a war on people of poverty. This is both a race and a class issue, and so, you know, we have debtors' prisons now, again, that were outlawed how many, you know, a hundred years ago. And so, you know, the over-criminalization of our society because, I blame it on our politicians, quite frankly, is that our politicians, whether they're local, state, or federal, are quick to legislate a new law, no matter how benign, what they tend to forget is the enforcement of a law can result in violence.

And so, our legislators never critically think of about the cause and effect. We have police officers out there that are enforcing traffic infractions, that are resulting in killing people.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Yeah, you have -- was it just yesterday, the one year anniversary of Sandra Bland, now, she wasn't killed directly by police, but, the process seems to have done her in, nonetheless.


DEAN BECKER: And, I want to come back to, we have this situation where we want to stop people from using drugs, and we're quite literally willing to kill them to enforce that law, to kill their dog, their kid, their neighbors, because we have this, for lack of a better word, jihad.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, you know what is, what occurred in Dallas, what's occurred with regard to the formation of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, is a direct result of poorly thought out economic and criminal justice policies. Plain, simple, period, end of story. And so, you know, I want to talk about how we redefine public safety is, we should not use the term public safety. What we need to address is, we have to have a holistic view of what safe communities look like, and those communities are communities that don't have to compete for budgets from law enforcement that are adequately funded, so for example, one of the examples that I used in my article was that there's a group called Invest In Kids, and it's actually interesting enough a law enforcement coalition with victims of crime who believe that investing in our children will, you know, it's the old pay now or pay later. And so, their research, a few years ago they published research that said if we simply increase the high school graduation rate by 10 percentage points, that researchers predicted that they would reduce homicides by 3,000 across the country, and aggravated assaults almost at a 175,000.

DEAN BECKER: When we bust somebody, they get that checkmark on the employment, on the resume, they get doors shut in their face, and sometime for life. And one of the few employers hiring is always the drug war, is always that black market. And little wonder that so, I don't know, that so many people's lives are recycled through the prisons and through this jihad. Your thoughts.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Well, no, absolutely, and, you know, that's, you know, what we've done is, we've continued to treat a symptom of root causes of poverty, of root causes of our segregated housing policies, root causes of, you know, crime. There's, it's all, you know, root causes of not having adequate mental health resources. You know, it is -- we need to develop other first responders outside of law enforcement. You know, President Obama made a statement, I was watching the funeral today, and, you know, I think one of his quotes was, we ask the police to do too much, and we ask too little of ourselves. And, he's right. And what he meant by that is, people don't want to invest in programs or volunteer their time to make the community better.

What I think he's talking about is, you know, from political strategies, is, you know, there's this constant fight about where money goes to, you know, and I think that if we redefine community safety to include all those resources, and that law enforcement and the criminal justice system is only one component, I like to kind of use this, you know, analogy, or, you know, what I tell people to think is, you know, you're riding a bicycle, and all the wheels are turning, and everything's going great, and, you know, you're moving. But if you over-inflate, or under-inflate, your tires, the bicycle breaks down. It's the same thing with what we're doing in our communities right now, we have under-inflated resources that long term would provide better results for violence reduction and crime prevention. And instead we've over-inflated the tire into the criminal justice system, and the tire is flat. And there's nothing we can do to repair it until we start addressing the inequities in funding that are better used outside of law enforcement.

And that's what Obama and Chief Brown have been saying all week.

DEAN BECKER: And, again, it requires us to refocus on the problem. We, as you say, we've been doing this year after decade, I don't know, a century now, and the results have proven to be disastrous. And we certainly need to take time to refocus what we're doing and how to go about it. Right?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Yep. Absolutely. And that, you know, and in addition, it's not just that, but we have to start addressing the divide between communities of color, black lives movement, you know, and other communities that have been marginalized by disparate law enforcement practices. And I think one of the things that right now is happening is, #BlackLivesMatter is addressing a need and an issue that everybody should be supporting. Okeh? And, but, the problem is, is law enforcement is hearing one message from them, and then #BlackLivesMatter is hearing a different message from law enforcement, and people are shouting over each other, instead of developing consensus, and figuring out what the common ground is.

You know, Van Jones did a great two-minute video that I linked in that article that was amazing because if you hear, you know, the commentator cop, and then the #BlackLivesMatter movement activist, they're saying the same message, both these groups feel marginalized. And in danger. And, we have to build on that common ground, I think LEAP is at a really, really interesting point where we can help to bridge that divide. And that's why I wrote that article. It's up to law enforcement, we have the power, it's our responsibility to try to make things right.

DEAN BECKER: We've been speaking with Diane Goldstein, on the board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, more than 20 years' experience wearing the badge. Thank you, Diane.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Thank you so much, Dean, really, really appreciate being on here.

DEAN BECKER: I want to thank Diane Goldstein and Roger Goodman for being our guests on the show, and again, if you want to be part of the LEAD program, contact Dean@DrugTruth.net. As always, I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.