01/22/12 Pat Lykos

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Pat Lykos the District Attorney of Houston/Harris county + Mary Jane Borden of Drug War Facts, Daniel Robelo of Drug Policy Alliance & "Jesus was a felon" demo cut

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Transcript

Transcript

Cultural Baggage / January 22, 2012

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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.

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DEAN BECKER: Hi, this is Dean Becker. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I’m glad you could be with us.

You know, we’re based in Houston, Texas – America’s fourth largest city. Right here in Harris County…kind of spreads out beyond that a bit. Total of about 4 million people. Something like 160 square miles.

Today we’re going to be talking with the District Attorney of Harris County, Ms. Pat Lykos. She’s a former judge. I want read, first, a little bit from the top of her website:

"A thriving civil society requires order; the foundation of which is that citizens must believe that justice is both fair and vigorously applied.”

With that I want to welcome Pat Lykos. Hello.

PAT LYKOS: Good evening. Good to be with you, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you. Yes ma’am, we’ve been on air a few times before. We did a series of discussions with you and the former opponent for your position, Clarence Bradford. I feel that we began to nudge the door a bit – open up this discussion about the complications, if you will, about this drug war.

(no response)

OK…Let me ask you, Judge Lykos, do you think the application of the drug laws are applied fairly in our community?

PAT LYKOS: I think we have to work much more intelligently in combating the illicit drugs. What’s happening now is that you have these transnational criminal organizations and they are extremely sophisticated.

We’re not approaching it by attacking their business model. We are not disrupting their command of control. We’re not dismantling their supply routes and their retail outlets. I believe that the war has not been prosecuted correctly.

DEAN BECKER: Well, yeah, and I would have to agree with you. I wanted to ask you this. You’ve been in office for what – three years?

PAT LYKOS: Yes sir.

DEAN BECKER: You were kind of handed this morass, if you will, from your predecessors – Rosenthal and the guy with the mustache…what was his name?

PAT LYKOS: Johnny Holmes.

DEAN BECKER: …and you have steered the ship on a different course, taken some different means to go about applying justice here in Houston. I wanted to ask you. Do you feel that over the last 5 or 10 years we’ve made any difference with the law enforcement, the criminal justice system – any real accomplishments in ending or correcting the Drug War?

PAT LYKOS: I think it’s had some reduction but I think it’s been a misallocation of resources. As you well know, I’ve implemented my trace policy and that is for us to prosecute someone for possession the minimum amount they must possess is 1/100 t h of a gram. That’s 1/100t h of a packet of say “Sweet n Low”. That’s the minimum amount that can be tested twice. That’s a due process issue.

As a result of what we’re doing police officers no longer are taking two and three hours off the streets to book someone, charge them with the offense of possession. They are out there patrolling and preventing crime.

What I want the officers to do is I want them to arrest the drug dealer and the person who supplied the drug dealer and the person who supplied him and work their way all the way up the chain and seize that bulk cash that’s going south.

DEAN BECKER: Yes ma’am. Taking under consideration your stance in the regards to the less than 1/100t h and the thought that it frees up law enforcement time that they’re not spent booking and perhaps going to trial and all of these things…

PAT LYKOS: Well it’s two things, Dean. One, it’s justice because if it can’t be tested twice it’s not fair. The defense would not have an option. Secondly, it does free the officer up.

DEAN BECKER: Right. So they can attend to more violent crime or crimes of another nature. I wanted to extrapolate or think upon that that the same scenario could be found within writing tickets for less than 4 ounces of marijuana as the legislature and the Governor signed a law to do and that would free up the police to go after more dangerous criminals amongst us. Your response, please.

PAT LYKOS: We cannot implement that here in Harris County. Harris County, first of all, is the third largest county in the United States. Houston, of course, is the fourth largest city but we have 34 municipalities.

If some municipalities decide to write tickets and others don’t, can you just see the mess that that would create and the disparity that there would be in enforcement? And if you cross the street you can get a ticket and if you’re on the other side of the street you get arrested.

If the legislature wanted to do something then they could change the law and make it universal.

DEAN BECKER: Right and I agree with you. They left that as an option and the fact of the matter is since that law was presented or signed into law there have been thousands upon thousands of these type of arrests here in Texas. It’s not just you. It’s district attorneys and sheriffs all across this state who have chosen to continue arresting people even though they do have the option to change. We’ll leave it at that.

Friends we’re speaking with District Attorney Pat Lykos of Harris County, Houston, Texas. She’s a former judge and I like to think of as a friend of Drug Truth Network. We try not to beat each other up too bad, right?

PAT LYKOS: Well, I appreciate you serving in the military so I salute you.

DEAN BECKER: Well thank you for that.

Talking about your situation is to enforce the law not to interpret it but I’m wondering if there isn’t a kind of awareness of many of these politicians that we put in office of that need for change but there seems to be a great deal of fear of touching that third rail.

I know you can’t tell secrets here but do you think there is at least some of that?

PAT LYKOS: I think there certainly is posturing by some. I do think that the legislature is making a good faith effort to recognize all the dynamics involved. I can tell you that I’m the new chair of HIDA. Our whole focus is going after the really bad guys and girls – the one’s who are smuggling not just drugs but can be involved in human smuggling, extortion, kidnapping, assassinations and so forth. That’s who we’re going to focus on.

DEAN BECKER: For those who may not know…HIDA is High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Group.

PAT LYKOS: Absolutely correct, yes sir.

DEAN BECKER: And it involves kind of an association between various law enforcement, the DEA and others, correct?

PAT LYKOS: Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, yes sir.

DEAN BECKER: The fact of the matter is I want to take out those high echelon guys just like you. Truthfully, those are the barbarians. They are the ultra-criminals living on this planet. Your response.

PAT LYKOS: The barbarism is just unbelievable when you see what they engage in – the torture and the mutiltation of individuals and so forth. It’s indescribable. It is such evil that the mind can’t comprehend it.

Also these people are financing terrorism. They’re financing Al Qaeda. They’re financing…they’re narco-terrorist. They are taking over entire governments.

Do you know what the murder rate in Honduras is now? It’s 82 per 100,000 because it’s a corridor for smuggling. And there’s 8 million people in that country. Los Angeles County, which has 10 million people, their murder rate is 7 per 100,000. It shows you the evil and the tragedy that results from the illicit drug trade.

DEAN BECKER: Yes ma’am. Judge Lykos, you know that I am a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We have begun to be embraced by more organizations – even legislatures are starting to call upon us for our expertise and our knowledge.

You’re probably well aware of the fact that since we last spoke there have been thousands of voices joining LEAP who have come forward since that discussion. They’re calling for the end of drug prohibition including the Global Commission on Drugs – several current and former heads of state. Do you feel we need to at least reexamine this policy and perhaps make some changes to our drug laws?

PAT LYKOS: I think we need to reexamine our strategy but, Dean, let me pose a question to you, alright?

You know what pharmaceutical diversion is.

DEAN BECKER: Oh yes.

PAT LYKOS: OK. These are legal drugs and yet people are going in there and physicians, pharmacists and others and diverting these drugs and selling them in the underground. I mean we are the hub for the transshipment of pharmaceuticals, OK?

We even have a name called the Houston Cocktail which is Vicodin, Soma and Xanax. Legalization is not the answer. Why do people want to poison themselves? Isn’t life itself a high?!

DEAN BECKER: I would agree that it’s driving itself off the cliff – this situation. I agree with you 100% but I don’t think that more people in jail is going to be the solution. More education, more treatment but the fact of the matter is that despite 100 years or 40 years since Nixon declared the Drug War – drugs are cheaper, they’re purer, they’re more freely available to our children than ever before. So therefor I don’t feel that prohibition is the answer.

PAT LYKOS: Well, what’s happening now in Los Angeles County is the cartels are moving in on so-called legal purveyors of marijuana. I agree with you that we need certainly more treatment and certainly more education, more public service announcements.

The way I was reared it just isn’t done. That’s all. Period. No matter how much you’re tempted, we do not do that. So if we could impose more social control that way…those are the strongest anyway.

DEAN BECKER: The Drug Czar and his minions go around the country talking about the need for more treatment, more education but the fact of the matter is the Drug War rolls on – still arresting 1.6 million basically young people and basically of color for minor amounts of drugs. Your response.

PAT LYKOS: Well that’s one of the benefits of my trace policy. Believe it or not that’s a state jail felony. A first time burgler of a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor offense so these people who have a trace (not a useable amount - less than 1/100t h of a gram) were being prosecuted for a state jail felony.

I agree with you that that is inequitable but, again, because it’s a due process and a fairness issue – I have to have an amount that’s useable.

DEAN BECKER: Right. OK. When I last was interviewing and Clarence Bradford I meant to ask you to please read the documents and the discussions that led us to this drug war – the racial screeds, the outright lies and the pandering that make the drug war possible and I’m wondering if you had a chance to visit druglibrary.org or the Drug Policy Alliance site or perhaps listen to some of the Drug Truth Network shows?

PAT LYKOS: I have and you sent me materials and I read it.

DEAN BECKER: Yes ma’am. You know my guest on my next show, the Century of Lies program, is going to be nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts. He and I have both interviewed Michelle Alexander. She’s author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of color blindness.”

He’s buying, himself, and giving away 50 copies of her book…

PAT LYKOS: I read his column in the New York Times.

DEAN BECKER: You did?

PAT LYKOS: Yes sir.

DEAN BECKER: OK. Have you had a chance…

PAT LYKOS: He’s going to have to give away a lot more than 50 books.

DEAN BECKER: True…every member of congress if I had my option there. I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to read it?

PAT LYKOS: No, I have not. I intend to read it.

DEAN BECKER: If I get a copy down to your office will you then read it?

PAT LYKOS: Absolutely, I’ll read it.

DEAN BECKER: Because I would like to let you have a copy of it and perhaps it would help open our discussion a bit more.

I was also wondering…do you know the number of arrests for blacks, whites and Hispanics for the various drug charges?

PAT LYKOS: I’m sure we can gather those statistics.

DEAN BECKER: That’s what I’m hoping because as this election season unfolds I would like you to make those available to me. I’ll send you a copy of “The New Jim Crow” and …Let’s see, you’re opponents are former judge Mike Anderson. The Democratic challengers are Zach Ferita and Lloyd Oliver. I’ve sent them emails. I think it’s tough for politicians to answer when there in the message line it says drugtruth.net but perhaps they’ll hear about this show or they’ll get in touch with me.

I would like to open up this discussion and air things out a bit here in Houston.

PAT LYKOS: Dean, the District Attorney has an absolute duty to communicate with the public and you are one of the venues. That’s why I appear on your program. Plus you’re very intelligent. I don’t agree with you but I enjoy our discourse.

DEAN BECKER: Well, yes ma’am - same here. You know we can disagree without being disagreeable.

PAT LYKOS: Can I give you this one statistic?

DEAN BECKER: Yes ma’am.

PAT LYKOS: Substance abuse, and that includes alcohol, is involved in 50 – 80% of the child welfare caseload. As a society we have to do something about that.

DEAN BECKER: Yes ma’am. I would say, and I don’t have the stats with me - I’ll have them the next time we get together, but the fact of the matter is 5 out of 6 of those abusive situations deal with alcohol and not hard drugs.

PAT LYKOS: How do you propose to distribute drugs? If you could wave a magic wand and legalize – what would you legalize?

DEAN BECKER: For the hard drugs go through a doctor. The doctor would educate you on how to use them properly. How not to kill yourself and get some sort of maybe a stamp on your driver’s license that says you’re authorized.

As far as marijuana or the softer drugs – adults only and anybody selling drugs to our kids – lock them up.

PAT LYKOS: Who’s going to produce these drugs and who’s going to sell the drugs?

DEAN BECKER: I would prefer Merck and Pfizer make them and so far as marijuana just the good name of the grower.

PAT LYKOS: But you see the problem we have with pharmaceutical diversion and these are legal drugs. Can you imagine what legalization would do?!

[busy signal on line]

DEAN BECKER: Well, did we just lose Pat Lykos? I apologize for that my friends. I am flat out of time. I got to run to another segment but, Judge Lykos, I apologize for losing you. Please come back and see us again here real soon.

She’s running for DA here in Harris County. We hope to be talking with her in the near future. Judge Lykos, thank you so much.

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MARY JANE BORDEN: Hello drug policy aficionados! I’m Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week asks, what about race and the drug war?

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the U.S. population. Whites and blacks equaled 72.5% and 12.6% respectively.

Findings from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that rates of substance abuse or dependence that to be “9.7 percent for Hispanics, 8.9 percent for whites, and 8.2 percent for blacks.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “At the end of 2008, the largest percentage of persons living with a diagnosis of HIV infection - 48% - were blacks.... Among the remaining racial/ethnic groups, the percentages were 33%, whites; 17%, Hispanics/Latinos;” Infection by injection drug use is highest among blacks.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that, of the estimated 242,200 prisoners under state jurisdiction sentenced for drug offenses in 2009, 17.3% were Hispanic, 30.4% were white, and 50.5% were black.

Let’s review the numbers.

9.7% of Hispanics are drug abusers. Hispanics represent 16.3% of the population, 17% of persons living with HIV and 17% of drug offenders in state prison.

8.9% of Whites are drug abusers. Whites encompass 72.5% of the population, 33% of those living with HIV and 30.4% of drug offenders in state prison.

Only 8.2% of Blacks are drug abusers. Blacks equal 12.6% of the population, but 48% all HIV patients and 50.5% of offenders in state prisoners on drug charges.

As stated by the Cato Institute, “If we truly want to get past race in this country, we must be aware that it will never happen until the futile War on Drugs so familiar to us now is a memory.”

These facts and others like them can be found in the Race and HIV and Drug Usage Chapters of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org.

If you have a question for which you need facts, please e-mail it to me at mjborden@drugwarfacts.org. I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.

So remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.

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DEAN BECKER: Back on January 11t h the Los Angeles Times has an article, “Mexico Government Sought To Withhold Drug War Death Statistics.” There was an OPED there. They printed full-length response from Daniel Robelo. He’s a research associate with the Drug Policy Alliance and here to tell us about his response is Daniel. How are you, sir?

DANIEL ROBELO: I’m doing well, Dean, thanks for having me.

DEAN BECKER: Tell us the context. How did you respond?

DANIEL ROBELO: We know that based on these new figures that the Mexican government reluctantly released – it only did so when citizens made a Freedom of Information request and a government agency was going to launch a government inquiry – that even based on these initial statistics that by now at least 50,000 people have been killed in the drug war in Mexico in the past 5 years.

The government announced that as of last September there was over 47,000 but, by now at that rate, it’s well over 50,000. Experts and advocates think that toll could be much higher. Very few crimes even get investigated in Mexico.

We know that these are prohibition-related murders.

DEAN BECKER: It’s not drugs that’s causing this problem, is it?

DANIEL ROBELO: Absolutely not. And as your listeners well know, Dean, the root cause of this destruction is prohibition. These cartels were created by drug prohibition. They derive their power from the exorbitant profits of prohibited but highly demanded substances/commodities and operate in an underground economy where violence is the norm to resolve disputes or remove business opponents. And that could be other cartel members or leaders and it could also be, and we know, innocent civilians who have no connection to the drug trade whatsoever. We’re talking about journalists getting assassinated regularly or, more recently, several bloggers being brutally murdered for nothing more than warning their fellow citizens about danger or reporting the news when traditional journalist are understandably too afraid to do so.

Even children and human rights defenders are being murdered and all of this is coming from prohibition.

DEAN BECKER: I guess 5 years, approximately, ago the violence was all across the northern border of Mexico to the United States but now it’s spread down into Acapulco, the resort cities. There’s no escaping this mayhem, right?

DANIEL ROBELO: Absolutely and very unfortunately we’re seeing violence spreading into traditionally more safer areas. Acapulco, as you mentioned, Monterey which is one of the commercial capitals of the country. Vera Cruz, another port city, that I’ve been seeing really atrocious incidents of violence.

We also know that it’s spreading to Central America. So as Mexico with U.S. support sends the troops in we’re seeing the balloon effect. The balloon is not going to pop - the air will just rush to another part. So we’re seeing Central America now becoming…Nationally they have higher homicides – even higher homicides than Mexico.

Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world last year. The UN says Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are the most dangerous places outside of active war zones in the world. So we’re just seeing the spread and it’s happening in varying degrees all over the world.

DEAN BECKER: Once again we’re speaking with Daniel Robelo. He’s a research associate with the Drug Policy Alliance.

Daniel, the fact of the matter is that the American public seems to be awakening to this problem – to a need for change. Do they not?

DANIEL ROBELO: Absolutely. People who are calling for regulatory change and an alternative to prohibition, at least for marijuana, they’re no longer in the minority. 50% of Americans, according to the most recent Gallup poll, believe that marijuana should be treated just like alcohol. Legalized and regulated for adult consumption.

We know that that will be a baby step in the right direction that could really deprive the cartels of their leading source of revenue – their bread and butter – and that’s according to the federal government. They repeatedly say marijuana is the leading source of revenue for these Mexican cartels.

And just by legalizing it we would be able to diminish their ability significantly to buy arms, to corrupt public officials, to put out hits on their enemies and to generally terrorize the Mexican people.

DEAN BECKER: Daniel, you know the response I hear most often when people say we could deprive them of the income from marijuana is that, “Oh, they’ll just move on to something else.” As if depriving them of 20 to 50 billion dollars a year wouldn’t hurt them. Your response.

DANIEL ROBELO: We’re trying everything but addressing the root cause. They are already involved in all these other crimes whether it’s human trafficking, other kinds of smuggling – any other number of criminal activities. How they got their foot in the door there. How they got the capital to start those new criminal enterprises was drug profit.

They are going after money laundering and trying to institute new money laundering controls but there’s no evidence that that’s going to diminish them and their bulk source of cash is drug profit. We’re going after arms but meanwhile we have a botched operation from the ATF that actually puts guns into the cartel’s hands and we don’t have the political will…

And certainly there’s a vast number of opinions about gun control but where Americans are really coming together on is that we need to at least start with marijuana. It’s a no-brainer.

And they say that this is only 20 to 50 billion dollars, like you said, Dean, it’s a ridiculous statement. That’s the most concrete step that we can take in the right direction and the most concrete way that we can help to undermine these criminal organizations.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, we’ve been speaking with Daniel Robelo. Daniel, your website, please.

DANIEL ROBELO: http://www.drugpolicy.org Drug Policy Alliance. Thank you so much, Dean, for having me.

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[music]

SINGERS: They nailed me for possession.
Lord, they nailed him to a tree.

But Jesus was a felon just like me.

DEAN BECKER: From the demo “Jesus” by Jo Lynn.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright. Thank you for joining us here on Cultural Baggage. I want to thank Judge Lykos or District Attorney Lykos of Harris County for joining us. I do apologize for the glitch. We apparently had some sort of technical difficulties going on for this show and I appreciate you bearing with us.

The fact of the matter is, you know, it is time for a change. I think Judge Lykos senses that. I think others, even in the state of Texas, sense that – see that as an area where change is necessary. I think we’re going to get there even though it’s, again, Texas. It’s going to happen.

I want you to join us on the Century of Lies show coming up here next on many of the Drug Truth Network stations. We’re going to be interviewing the nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts. He’s, as always, right on the money and much to share with us about that need for change. I hope you’ll stay with us and, as always, I remind you that because of prohibition – you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.

And, the fact of the matter is, you don’t know what’s going to happen next in this drug war because of prohibition. Please, do your part.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.