Major Neill Franklin Dir of LEAP touring Texas, Rep Joe Moody seeks marijuana law change + dozens speak in support, Atty Randall Kallinen re wacko Waco shootout lawsuit, Jodie Emery re major shakedown in Canada, WSB report of Georgia legislators standing tall for drug law reform
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, March 17, 2017
Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Sat, 03/18/2017 - 18:08
MARCH 17, 2017
DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs, who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.
Hi, this is Dean Becker. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Hang onto your hats!
Seems people's opinions about the drug war is changing. That applies to your everyday Joe and Jolene, certainly, but it seems officials and law enforcement are beginning to move towards a more rational approach. Here to talk about his involvement, his discussion, with several officials in the state of Texas, is one of my bosses, he's the executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership. I am a speaker, a member of this fine group, and I want to welcome Neill Franklin. Hello, sir.
NEILL FRANKLIN: Hi, Dean. Hey, thanks for having me, and I appreciate the great weather down here in the great state of Texas.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah, now, you are, as I say, you know, you started out in Houston, I think, you went to Austin, Dallas, you're headed up to Tulsa here soon. Who have you spoken to? What has been their attitude, I guess?
NEILL FRANKLIN: Yes, sure, so, I had a few meetings, actually had a phone conversation with Art Acevedo of Houston, the chief of police there, used to be in Austin, Texas, just a great guy doing some great things, and forward thinking. I met with Sean Mannix from Cedar Park, outside of Austin. Had a talk today with Sheriff Sally Hernandez of Travis County, there in Austin. Had conversation with the chief of Lakeway, that's Todd Radford. Another just -- police chief who is doing some great things with the attention he's paying to mental health within his community, and drug addiction.
One of the -- and there's more, I got to meet with Judge Waldrip of, down there in, south of, in Comal County, south of Austin. And, you know, all these folks, and more that I'll be meeting with in the Dallas area tomorrow, what I'm finding out is that each and every one of these fine law enforcement and judicial leaders realize that this drug war that we've been fighting for decades, using criminal justice tactics and strategies, it never worked, it never would work, it just doesn't fit. How can you use these criminal justice strategies and tactics to solve a public health crisis? And that's what we're dealing with.
They recognize that. They recognize that we need new tactics, tactics from the healthcare community, tactics dealing with mental health, and they've already begun to do that within their individual departments. We just need to spread the word on what they're doing, into other states and to other cities, and that's part of what we're doing as an organization as we move forward: connecting the dots between law enforcement leaders, who are forward thinking and realize that the war on drugs has failed and we need to have a different strategy in dealing with addiction and in dealing with these, or at least, should I say, these policies that have been given to law enforcement to enforce.
DEAN BECKER: And, this brings to mind, Neill, the fact is, you know, it was back in 2014, I interviewed then-police chief Charles McClelland here in Houston, then last year I interviewed the candidate for DA, Kim Ogg, the candidate for sheriff, Art -- Mister Gonzalez, and once he was installed I interviewed our new police chief, from Austin, Art Acevedo. Each one of them declared the drug war to be a failure, each one saying we've overdone it, and I guess what I'm wanting to bring in focus here is that, I think in hearing one another say these things out loud, to express them openly, publicly, it gave them all courage to, starting the first of this month, they're no longer arresting anybody for under four ounces of marijuana because that's, I guess, the minimum change they can do at this time. But I think each one of those people are wanting to go much further towards correcting the harms of the drug war.
Your response to that, Neill.
NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, absolutely, Dean, and what I'm hearing is great support for this process of cite and release. It's just like a traffic ticket. You know, it's a civil infraction, and they're supporting that. They recognize the need for that. They're tired of this process, this never ending revolving door of sending people into our detention centers and into our jails, only to saddle them with the stigma of an arrest that when -- see, when you cripple these people with an arrest, and it affects their employment opportunities, and it affects other things that relates to the family, and education, that in a sense makes their job more difficult, because for many of these people it points them into a direction of criminal behavior.
It can change the course of their lives, and when you keep people in a positive space, you know, when you give, as Sally Hernandez says, the sheriff of Travis County, like she said, when you get a second chance, and that opportunity, then you're able to move forward from that. You know, it helps the whole criminal justice system. It helps improve public safety, and that's what we're about as an organization, just like these police leaders. What are the best policies, what are the best tools that we can use, what is the best way that we can collectively improve public safety?
And some people, unfortunately, have the perspective that public safety is about locking people up, it's about arresting people. That's not what public safety is about. Public safety is about many things. It is about harm reduction. It is about drug treatment. It is about decriminalization. You know, it is about changing some of the policies and laws that we currently have in place, that we know do not work, like the war on drugs.
DEAN BECKER: There you have it, some powerful words from Mister Neill Franklin, a man with thirty-four years of law enforcement experience, rising to the rank of Major in a couple of different organizations. He's the executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and you can find them out there on the web, you can join forces with this effort, by visiting LEAP.cc.
What will it take to motivate you? Please visit DrugTruth.net.
As we just heard in Neill Franklin's thoughts about the state of Texas, legislators here are thinking about changing the drug laws and particularly the marijuana law. Here's a segment taken from a session in last week's Texas legislature.
TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE TODD HUNTER: So at this time, we will call Chairman Moody to present HB81.
TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE JOE MOODY: Okeh. Chairman Hunter, members, I'm pleased present you with House Bill 81. While it may seem like this is a marijuana bill, more fundamentally it's a bill about smart government, which is always a bipartisan issue. The starting point for it is understanding where it fits in what we're doing now, and what we could do in the future.
There are basically four ways that we can deal with marijuana policy. The first is our current system, which makes possessing it a crime at all levels. The second is full Colorado-style retail market legalization. The third is a medical marijuana system. I want to make very clear that House Bill 81 is not option two, nor is it option three. It doesn't make marijuana legal, and doesn't allow medical use. It's a fourth approach, which is kept -- which keeps marijuana illegal but enforces those laws with a civil penalty instead of a criminal one.
We need House Bill 81 because the first approach, our current system, is just about the opposite of smart government. There are roughly 70,000 arrests per year for marijuana possession in Texas, about 97 percent of which are for small amounts. As a percentage of total arrests, and therefore total budget, that creates a price tag of nearly $734 million every single year.
That's about the total we budgeted for border security last session. It's a big chunk -- that's a big chunk of the money we need to fully fund our schools and rebuild our roads. Those priorities, and just about anything else, frankly, would be a better way to spend our money because right now, we're getting nothing for it.
No police officer or prosecutor anywhere in this state brags about a kid with a joint case, because it doesn't make us any safer. In fact, it makes us less safe, because an officer who makes a marijuana arrest is off the street for up to half the shift, dealing with, processing, and paperwork, which then translates into overcrowded jails and clogged courts. And none of that has deterred marijuana use, with years of relatively steady usage rates that haven't changed in response to our criminal laws.
What our penalties have done is leave young people, and arrest data shows that it is mostly young people, with criminal records. Of those 70,000 arrests every year, just under half of them result in a conviction or non-expungeable probation. That criminal record is a barrier to education, financial aid housing, and employment.
And if an offender overcomes the conviction itself, then not having a driver's license can also stand in the way of productivity, since an automatic suspension comes with a marijuana conviction.
These consequences are permanent, because a conviction, even just for marijuana, can never be sealed or removed from a criminal record.
DEAN BECKER: Representative Joe Moody went on to speak for a while, quite eloquently I might add, but I want to cut him off here because there were dozens of people who spoke in regards to this bill as well.
JOHN J. HALL: My name is John J. Hall. I am a retired Houston police officer, giving me many years of experience in the criminal justice system. I have proudly served my community, and consider my testimony to be an extension of that service.
Harris County alone spends $26 million annually on misdemeanor marijuana cases. Comparatively far fewer tax dollars are spent on the apprehension and prosecution of violent criminals who are responsible for rapes, robberies, and burglaries in the greater Houston area.
In the interest of justice, I implore you to pass House Bill 81, a bill that would redirect valuable resources and offer a sensible solution to our unreasonable, harsh, and ineffective criminal penalties currently on the books.
DEAN BECKER: Here to close out this section from the Texas legislature is one of my other bosses.
TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE TODD HUNTER: Go ahead.
WILLIAM MARTIN: My name is William Martin. I direct the Drug Policy Program at Rice University's Baker Institute, which I represent in speaking for House Bill 81.
According to massive government surveys conducted annually since the mid-1970s, these are the best data we have on drug use, for most people who use marijuana it's not even a gateway to more marijuana use, much less a gateway to harder drugs, as the charts on the back of your sheet show.
As of 2015, 44 percent of Americans 12 and older, more than 50 percent for those under 50, have used marijuana at some time in their lives, but only 8 percent use it in a way that we could call regular -- at least once a month. Less than one percent have used cocaine regularly over the last 25 years. The figure for heroin is less than two tenths of one percent. That's not much of a gateway.
Genetics, psychological make-up, and personal and social circumstances play the crucial role. As a 1973 blue ribbon commission appointed by President Richard Nixon noted, the soil is more important than the seed. The individual user, rather than the drug, is the core of the problem. Prohibition and a criminal record will make those problems worse.
Available studies indicate that neither decriminalization nor legalization nor medical marijuana drive up adolescent use. In some studies, modest rises in teen use shortly after decriminalization or legalization is followed by a subsequent decrease to former levels. In Colorado, where marijuana has been legal for adults since 2013, teen use has decreased from 22.7 in 2011 to 21 percent in 2015, consistent with the national estimate of about 22 percent.
Decriminalization can save the state, counties, and cities money by no longer jailing people, providing tax payer funded legal counsel to indigent defendants, or monitoring offenders through probation and parole after they are released.
The collateral consequences of conviction for even minor drug offenses are great, affecting employment, housing, education, earning power, families, and higher levels of distrust toward police. As has been noted, these consequences are unevenly distributed. The data are clear that African-Americans are far more likely to be arrested, convicted, and incarcerated than whites. Latinos are also more likely than whites to receive criminal sanctions disproportionately.
Minority populations know this, and it reduces their respect for the law, and it loosens the psychic bond to society and its norms. That harms democracy and the rule of law. House Bill 81 won't erase all those inequities, but it will make a huge difference, and I urge you to support it. Thank you.
DEAN BECKER: I am fair, and so I share with you the only person who stood in opposition to House Bill 81.
BOBBY BLAND: Howdy, I'm Bobby Bland, and I'm Ector County District Attorney, and I'm here as Ector County District Attorney, and I'm here to speak against House Bill 81.
This is one of the tools that law enforcement uses to combat crime.
DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Decreased sex drive, excessive milk whether nursing or not, loss of menses, hallucination, aggression, depression, hepatic impairment, renal impairment, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, rebound insomnia, withdrawal, new feelings of depression. Time's up! From Takeda Pharmaceuticals, they say it doesn't have the side effects of Lunesta, the answer: Rozerem. For a good night's sleep.
PETER ROWAN W/ FLACO JIMINEZ: Freedom for us is a prison for the rulers of might!
That's why the Free Mexican Air Force -- Mescalito riding his white horse --
Yeah, the Free Mexican Air Force is flyin' tonight!
Flyin' so high- yi- yee...
RANDALL KALLINEN: My name is Randall Kallinen, and I'm a civil rights lawyer here in Houston, Texas. I've been a civil rights lawyer for over 20 years. That includes mostly police misconduct, such as false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution. And I used to be the president of the Houston chapter of the ACLU.
DEAN BECKER: There was a big shootout at a Twin Peaks in Waco a couple of years back that just didn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me. Would you tell us about that situation, sir, how it happened, and what it's about.
RANDALL KALLINEN: Well, about that, two years ago, at a Twin Peaks restaurant, which is a chain restaurant in Waco, there was a meeting of motorcycle groups, called the Coalition of Clubs, to discuss issues important to motorcyclists, like legislation and so forth. This was open to all motorcyclists. And, many people showed up for that meeting, during normal business hours. And there became a -- aggression between two groups, two motorcycle groups, who apparently had some disagreements, and there was, eventually there was some shots fired, and when the smoke cleared, there was 9 dead and over 20 wounded.
However, I must point out that the -- most of the dead and wounded were by police, that actually the police were aware of some animosity between two of the groups that were to show up there, and they had showed up there as well, several of them in the parking lot, however they weren't visible, they were generally in cars, and when there was some altercation that started amongst the groups, eventually that led to the police shooting, and most of the people injured who were likely hit by police gunfire.
Now, once all the smoke cleared, the police and authorities then arrested approximately 177 people and charged them all with engaging in organized criminal activity, a first degree felony, because it resulted in some deaths, including my client, a woman who arrived via car, who had just barely got there when the shooting started. And they arrested her, and publicized her name along with everybody else's as far as this crime.
DEAN BECKER: She was not a gang member, was she?
RANDALL KALLINEN: No, she was not a member of either one of these two groups. She was actually a bank teller, and she had a bachelor's degree, and she had never been arrested or convicted of any crime in her entire life, and she was just a person interested in motorcyclists, and she was there with her husband, who was also not a member of these either -- these two groups, which got into some sort of altercation.
DEAN BECKER: Tell us further about this situation, her stance in this regard, if you will, please.
RANDALL KALLINEN: They questioned her afterwards, after the shooting, and she freely told them, you know, that, hey, I just arrived here. They searched her, she had no weapons on her, but despite all of that, the police made a claim to a judge that she regularly engaged in criminal activities, which she never, never -- there was no proof of that, as well as, she sported the insignia of one of the two groups which were fighting, which, that wasn't true either.
So basically, they made up this story about her, which got her arrested. Now, each one of the 177 people, they actually have a blanket affidavit, it was like an affidavit with just a fill in the name with the same exact facts for every person, and one officer filled in all the names of all the 177 people and presented that particular same exact affidavit to a judge to find probable cause. And so 177 people were arrested, and probably in there, you know, there are some people who are guilty, but the vast majority of them appear, you know, not to -- probably will not be convicted of any crime.
And our client of course was let go basically after -- not let go at the scene, but after a year or so of wrangling, they decided not to pursue any charges against her because they had no evidence.
And she also had to stay in jail for 16 days until some judge came to his senses and lowered the bond to a reasonable amount, because of course, if you're charged with murder, and it's your first time being charged with murder, a lot of times the bond is $10,000 or $20,000, so a million dollars is an extremely high bond, even if it is murder.
DEAN BECKER: Well, and was this, am I understanding, is there 177 people charged with murder?
RANDALL KALLINEN: Yes, it was -- well, it was 177 people charged with engaging in organized criminal activity that caused a death, caused a death. So in other words they were charging all the people basically through organized crime statute with these deaths, making it a first degree felony punishable with up to 99 years in prison.
DEAN BECKER: Good golly. Now, I'm sure that your client was not very happy, considering that circumstance. What has she done since then, sir?
RANDALL KALLINEN: You know, your arrest record doesn't go away unless you try to expunge the record, and when some things get on the internet, they, you never get rid of them. And these things, these events, and the people who were arrested, were broadcast by the authorities throughout, you know, through, got on the internet, and so, it's possible that they'll never get off the internet. So, forever she'll be associated with this particular event.
DEAN BECKER: And she is in fact suing the city of Waco? What entity?
RANDALL KALLINEN: Yes, a couple weeks ago, my client sued the city of Waco, as well as the county, McLennan County, those two entities, as well as the people who -- the actual -- some of the individuals who participated in the false arrest of, such as the officer who presented the affidavit, the false affidavit to the judge, and the prosecutor who orchestrated these events, and directed people, directed law enforcement, to fill out these forms.
And usually, DAs are not involved in that particular aspect of the criminal process. They usually don't direct police officers to fill out affidavits to get people arrested for probable cause or charged with crimes. But that was out of the ordinary, and that's why -- one of the reasons in this case that we sued the prosecutor, the actual district attorney of the county.
DEAN BECKER: The case still baffles me, there's a lot of weirdness goes on in Waco apparently. This is just another such instance. Well, folks, once again we've been speaking with attorney Randall Kallinen. He's, I don't know, got my attention this case. I would like more circumstance to be sorted out up there in Waco. Any closing thoughts you'd want to relay, sir?
RANDALL KALLINEN: Yes. There was a, you know, complete breakdown in the system, to charge all of these people, 177 people, and they sat in jail for 17 days, even after they were, you know, sitting in jail there for several weeks. Nothing was really done to try to rectify the system. I mean, they can maybe be forgiven for some short period of time in holding them while they sort things out, however they had plenty of time to sort things out, and yet, my client still was stuck in jail and still charged with a crime for well over a year.
DEAN BECKER: Waco. I mean, what are you going to do? You know, I think that was the first interview I ever did where I never mentioned the word drugs. But hey, we're talking about biker gangs.
And now, what is for me a very troubling situation to consider. A week ago, two Canadian friends of mine got busted for trying to legalize marijuana in Canada, which is preparing to legalize marijuana. This is Marc and his wife, Jodie Emery.
JODIE EMERY: This is my first time being arrested and detained and forced to strip naked in a very degrading fashion. It's deeply disturbing and appalling, that as legalization is coming in Canada, the people who literally made it possible, running for office, campaigning in the streets, protesting, we've been on the front lines of legalization advocacy for 20 plus years for Marc Emery, 13 years for myself. It is wrong and unjust that the police and the drug squad are forcing us to be stripped, literally, of everything we built. The fact that we are no longer allowed to be associated with our magazine, with our media, with our activism, with our businesses. We're being forced to leave it all, while the drug squad shuts down many peaceful people's businesses.
Legalization is coming and it's because of people like us, and for us to face these incredibly unjust and harsh penalties and punishments, it's so wrong.
DEAN BECKER: Thus far, we've had more than twenty million similar strip search arrests in these United States, for little bitty bits of marijuana. The Drug Truth Network would not exist but for Marc and Jodie Emery. When we began 15 years ago, I wasn't working. I had no money. I get no pay here at Pacifica, but I wanted to keep doing these shows. Marc gave me thousands of dollars to make that possible. He invited me to his home town, he gave me housing, food, and clothing, because I was freezing.
Without the activism and the funding of Marc and Jodie Emery, the advance of drug reform would be years behind. I salute them, and I surmise that they know that history will be much kinder to them than to Premier Justin Trudeau.
A snippet from WSB Atlanta.
GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN PEAKE: There's 28 states that have medical cannabis legislation in place, another 14 that have laws similar to what we have here in Georgia, so 42 of the 50 states now say medical cannabis has some merit, and therefore should be allowed in their state. That's who I'm listening to at this point.
WSB REPORTER: State Representative Allen Peake.
ALLEN PEAKE: This isn't just children with seizures. This is the grandmother with Parkinson's disease. This is the college student with Chrone's disease.
DEAN BECKER: This is a Drug Truth Network editorial. Just over a hundred years ago, a small band of charlatans and profiteers disguised as moralists roamed the US and then the world, proclaiming the danger of certain plants and plant products. They began persecuting and prosecuting certain people who used those plants, because they were deviants from the norm, unworthy of respect. Way over a trillion dollars has flowed into the pockets of those profiteers and charlatans, still disguised as moralists.
As always, I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.