09/16/12 Neill Franklin

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Caravan for Peace X: Neill Franklin, Dir of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition re Caravan for Peace + Doug McVay of CSDP re GAO Rpt on prison overcrowding & Senate hearing on drug war

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Transcript

Transcript

Century of Lies / September 16, 2012

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DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.

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DEAN BECKER: Hi. This is Dean Becker. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. I’m back in studio doing a live show. Feels good. We’ve got Laura doing the engineering for us and things are somewhat back to normal but we’re going to focus one more time on the Caravan for Peace – the work, the hope, the dreams of these survivors of these massacres, this madness in Mexico.

Here to talk about it the boss of my band of brothers, the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mr. Neill Franklin. How are you doing, Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Dean Becker. How are you doing, my friend?

DEAN BECKER: I’m good. Neill, it wore us out but it was more invigorating than debilitating wasn’t it? This Caravan for Peace.

NEILL FRANKLIN: It was. I know if I needed a good weekend here to recuperate by God you stuck with that caravan for 30 whole days.

DEAN BECKER: 32.

NEILL FRANKLIN: I’m sorry…32 whole days. I tell you that’s a feat in and of itself - Dean with the caravan for 32 days and then enduring the stories. It’s physically draining is one thing but emotionally it’s got to be draining for you as well to hear the stories over and over again from our Mexican brothers and sisters as they talk about the loss that they endure.

DEAN BECKER: And the lack of support from officials on either side of the border in trying to track down those responsible. What is it 2 or 3% of the murders in Mexico are solved now. It makes me really wonder about those 2 or 3%. I doubt they actually did the deed. It’s a crazy situation isn’t it?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Here’s the other thing. You say 2 or 3% are solved. I think what we’re really talking about is not people being convicted and spending time in prison or being sentenced. First thing I think we’re talking about is arrests being made in those cases.

The criminal justice system in Mexico is severely broken and a lot of it has to do with the policies that this country has pushed upon the rest of the world for managing drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Yes and the fact of the matter is we were made aware as we were traveling around the country that cities like Chicago and Detroit and perhaps even your city of Baltimore are being influenced. There are those actors, if you will, bad actors – representatives of the cartels – that are now visiting major U.S. cities and trying to influence the drug trade, the retail end right here, right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: That’s very true. They’re moving well beyond the trafficking influence that they’ve had over the past couple of decades and actually moving into the retail distribution to gain even more control over this very lucrative market.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, it’s said that the cartels in Mexico make 30 to 70 billion a year. Nobody knows for sure and the fact of the matter is in the U.S. it’s double that as far as the total monies that could be made. At least double that so it’s something that they’re trying to get their hands in to, right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, that’s very true and as we remain with these policies and fail to make a change…and we know what that change is – it’s legalization, regulation and control. If we fail to do that they’re probably going to continue with that influence and continue to corner the market.

DEAN BECKER: Going back to the stories that we would hear….usually it was in the evening and a town would show their support. They would provide shelter and food and a little bit of music and a stage where these people could tell their stories. Sometimes, yes, the stories even when it was in Spanish it would wash over the crowd.

I couldn’t understand every word – just enough to know the misery and the pain these people were enduring just by telling their stories.

NEILL FRANKLIN: When I did spend time with the caravan – mainly going from Houston to Atlanta – outside of the formal settings for the sharing of stories…to have that moment to sit down with one of these mothers with a translator and just to talk about those experiences in a quiet setting that’s when you really feel the emotion and you really feel somewhat of what they have gone through because you get to ask questions. It’s just…I don’t know…the courage that many of these people have is just unbelievable to know that some of their lives are currently being threatened and to know that they have to return back to their homeland.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, back to Mexico where the rate of impunity is 98%. I admire the courage of all of them.

Now let’s talk about …you have built up a special relationship with the leader of the Caravan for Peace, Mr. Javier Sicilia. In fact he preferred to give his speeches and have you repeat them in English. Let’s talk about that relationship.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Sure, sure. When I first met him it was a brief moment in Los Angeles about a year ago at the DPA conference and it was right after he spoke. That was the first time I heard him speak and, of course, it was being translated.

I walked up to him, shook his hand and thanked him for his work. It was shortly after that that I heard about the caravan. The next time I met him was this past Spring when I traveled to Mexico City for one of the major planning events for the caravan and got to spend a little bit more time with him. I was there for a few days and I tell you he’s just got a disposition about him that is really special. It’s a calming disposition. It’s one that clearly reflects peace and that’s how he goes about the business of bringing attention to this issue and seeking the changes that need to be made. He’s a special individual. He really is. Even though we don’t speak the same language.

DEAN BECKER: I think he hears English better than he speaks it which is kind of the opposite of me – I speak Spanish better than I hear it. We’re able to communicate. As you said there’s usually a translator nearby.

I wanted to talk about the fact that he is a – I won’t say a father figure – but he is the leader. That’s just known. Every morning everybody gets a hug and a kiss and maybe that’s just the way Mexicans do things but it’s very much a family when they travel together, right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah. He really is. He is very special to the ‘caravaners’ as we call them. It kind of seems like that ‘watching eye’ over them. They respect him so much.

It’s funny you say that fatherly figure thing. I remember saying to him once that he actually does remind me of my dad. He really does. Not just in demeanor but even somewhat in his facial expressions and appearance.

DEAN BECKER: They do protect Javier as well. You may not have noticed the last night in Washington, D.C. while Javier was giving his speech a drunk came stumbling into the crowd and he upset several of the caravanistas quite a bit. They gathered around him and shielded him from Javier and they walked him out of there rather quickly. You don’t know these days, I guess. They worry that things are just as bad in the U.S.

Now let’s talk about something here. We, as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, we had about a dozen of our speakers that showed up over the lifetime of the caravan. You were there half the days or something like that. The fact of the matter is we were there to help educate people to the fact that current and former law enforcement are speaking out against this policy.

There’s kind of two steps to this - what our goals, our ambition is in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is. One is to educate the people about that change and secondarily is to (and I think will follow if we can complete the first) but secondarily to restore respect for law enforcement. Your thoughts there, Neill Franklin.

NEILL FRANKLIN: One of the interesting things…I’ll make two quick points here. In the beginning, the planning stages of this caravan there was great concern about us, LEAP, being that we are law enforcement being a significant part of the caravan because the members of the caravan because of the corruption in Mexico, because of an environment where it’s very difficult to trust the police they were somewhat leery of law enforcement accompanying...even though we were mostly retired they were very leery of law enforcement accompanying them throughout the caravan.

It really only took a couple of days, if that long…from San Diego to LA…by the time we finished in LA they realized that we were not the typical law enforcers that they were used to dealing with in Mexico. They realized that we were really about their well-being and that we were concerned and that we did care and that we were serious about changing these policies that have devastated their country. The bond that has been formed now between this group of law enforcers and the members of the caravan is an ever-lasting bond.

DEAN BECKER: I would agree with you, sir. I feel privileged that on one of the jaunts early on they invited me to give a talk on the media bus, if you will, and when it was done had a rousing ovation and I hope that helped to change the attitude a bit as well.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, it did and I tell you, man, they now have a different perspective of what law enforcement can be like. I think they realize how law enforcement should be.

The second thing that I wanted to mention along those lines is the piece that Sean Dunagan, one of our speakers from Washington, D.C. – a former DEA Analyst, wrote not too long ago about what these policies have done to the law enforcement profession and basically how the tarnish that is now on the law enforcement badge. How these policies are pretty much the cause of that.

DEAN BECKER: The fact of the matter is that we’ve gone from the friendly cop on the corner to somebody wearing a flak jacket and carrying an AK-47. It’s different from when you and I were growing up. It’s totally changed hasn’t it?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Completely and I use that example, Dean, in just about every talk that I give about how when I was growing up and sitting on the wall in my neighborhood and the police officers would come around the corner at the top of the hill in a police car (what we called a roller) and when they got down to where we were no one would run at least not away from the police. We would run over to his car and talk about some things. We knew who the police officers were in our neighborhood. We had a relationship with them. We weren’t the most well-behaving kids in Baltimore City but when they would catch us doing something that kids will do they would say, “We’ll give you an opportunity to go home so you can tell your parents what you did because you don’t want me to tell them.”

But there was a relationship there but today when in the same neighborhood when the police come around the corner and there are young people on the corner the young people either scatter or the police roll up to them, roll down the window and tell them to get the hell off their corner and there’s absolutely no relationship whatsoever.

There’s no doubt in my mind that these drug policies have driven this wedge in between police and the community.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I would agree with you. We’ve got just a couple minutes left. I want to talk about the fact that it has been the use of snitches and informants that has kind of turned the populace against itself and against the police forces and has contributed greatly to this problem that we’re talking about, right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Absolutely. There’s been a number of tragedies behind the use of informants and the improper use of informants. Don’t get me wrong. In certain crimes there’s definitely a place for such a thing but it has to be done the right way. Unfortunately these drug policies that we have is not the place and there’s been some tragedies that have resulted from that. Some young people who shouldn’t have been placed in that situation of being informants have been killed.

Here we are literally coercing these people to turn on people they know and in some cases the fear of going to prison is so great that they even lie about the information. It’s been proven that many innocent people have been targeted because of such.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah and too often put in jeopardy or even led to death.

Once again we’ve been speaking with Mr. Neill Franklin. He’s the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. They’re on the web at http://leap.cc I urge you to check it out. There’s lots of information there. Lots of good links to stories about the Caravan for Peace.

Neill, we’ve got less than a minute. There’s some talk on the LEAP mailing list about keeping the LEAP mobile. What’s your thoughts on that?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Here’s a real quick example. I left church this afternoon and I had two stops to make on the way home – one to get gas and one to grab a couple things to eat when I got home. In those two short stops 5 people came up to me. All 5 agreed with the message that’s on the LEAP vehicle about legalizing drugs, about ending the drug war, about saving our children…all 5. Most were young.

Young people seem to get it more than some of us older folks do. But in just that short period of time 5 people were encouraged. They wanted more information so I was able to give them some pamphlets and some more information. So it goes to show the value of that vehicle. It’s just a matter of how do we manage it. How do we get the best use out of it if we decide to keep it.

DEAN BECKER: Neill, I’m going to have to cut you off there and just say one more time, “Long live the LEAP mobile.” I hope so.

Friends, we’ve been speaking with Mr. Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. On the web at http://leap.cc

Thank you, Neill.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Thank you, Dean. Thank you very much.

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DOUG McVAY: The federal Bureau of Prisons is huge, expensive, and overcrowded. A new report by the Government Accountability Office notes that, “Over the last 25 years, BOP’s population has grown more than 400 percent, and BOP projects future growth through 2020. With more inmates, BOP’s spending to secure, feed, and provide services to a growing population has also been rising. BOP’s annual appropriation now exceeds $6.6 billion, and represents nearly a quarter of DOJ’s annual budgetary authority. ”

Much of that growth has been due to drug offenders, who have consistently comprised more than 50 percent of federal inmates since at least 1990, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics – growing from 30,470 out of 56,989 prisoners in 1990, to 97,472 out of 190,641 prisoners in 2010.

This new GAO report on the affects of prison overcrowding in the federal corrections system is titled: Bureau of Prisons: Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff, and Infrastructure . They found impacts in several key areas. The report should be a wake-up call. Here are a few of their findings which may be of interest.

“To increase available bed space, BOP reports double bunking in excess of the percentages included in a facility’s rated capacity; triple and quadruple bunking; or converting common space, such as a television room, temporarily to housing space. As a result of BOP actions to increase available bed space in its institutions to accommodate the growing federal inmate population, more inmates are sharing cells and other living units, which brings together for longer periods of time inmates with a higher risk of violence and more potential victims.”

“[A]s of the end of fiscal year 2011, about 2,400 inmates in male medium security institutions participated in residential drug treatment, almost 3,000 more inmates were on the waiting list to participate, and the average wait for enrollment exceeded 3 months. ”

“As we reported in February 2012, long waiting lists for BOP’s Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP), which provides sentence reductions for eligible inmates who successfully complete the program, constrained BOP’s ability to admit participants early enough to earn their maximum allowable reductions in times served.”

“BOP officials said the increasing inmate population and staffing ratios negatively affect inmate conduct and the imposition of discipline, thereby affecting security and safety. A 2005 BOP report on the effects of crowding and staffing levels in federal prisons on inmate violence rates concluded that population pressures on both staffing levels and inmate living space have an upward impact on serious prison violence. ”

This report is news, yet none of this is new, which is the scary part. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, federal prisons were 51 percent overcrowded in 1990. In 1995, they were down to 26 percent overcrowded. In 2000, they were 31 percent overcrowded. In 2010, it was back up to 36% overcrowded. The Bureau of Prisons estimates it will be up to 45 percent overcrowded by 2018.

This report can be downloaded from G-A-O dot gov.

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

This has been a production of the Drug Truth Network, online at Drug Truth dot net.

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DEAN BECKER: The last day of the Caravan for Peace was in Washington, D.C. There was a hearing held in the U.S. Senate. I got a chance to ask a question about Plan Merida.

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DEAN BECKER: What is it supposed to do? Each year we give Mexico 500 million. We give Colombia 100 million. Countries around the world are enticed to participate in this drug war and, if not, they are taken off the favored nations list. I see great similarities in the way the U.S. runs its drug war to “plato u plumo” as the cartels say and do.

[DEAN BECKER: Ethan Nadelmann, the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance was first to answer my question. ]

ETHAN NADELMANN: To the extent that Plan Merida is more involved in helping to build responsible judicial institutions and has shifted away from the more militaristic perspective – that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for Mexico, for the United States, for human rights. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But to do that in exclusion of trying to deal with the more fundamental issues and the failed prohibitionist system or what Javier Sicilia said. So long as you have a prohibitionist system, so long as we try to treat prohibition as a commodity with millions if not tens of millions of people desire. Sure you can provide treatment. Sure you can go out after the narcos and the traffickers but you’re going to generate crime, violence, corruption, disrespect for law, the devastation we’ve seen in Mexico and the waste of lives and money that we’ve seen here.

That’s the issue that needs to be on the table. So Plan Merida and good law enforcement cooperation and drug treatment – all good – but it’s insufficient in the absence of the more fundamental issue.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment is the Senator who called for this hearing. I couldn’t attribute her name but these are her thoughts.

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SENATOR KERRY STAFF MEMBER: A bunch of the Merida money right now is implementing justice reform. Under way and about 8 years into an entire overhaul of the justice process in Mexico which I think is incredibly important because prosecutions are so low as I’m sure has been experienced by pretty much all of the families on this journey.

I think the prosecution rate for murder in Mexico is about 2%. One of the really fundamental things is a system that functions. Those kinds of programs I think are important.

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[Musical interlude]

We are the plant police.
With each arrest we bring peace.
We fight eternal war
So you can never score
Yes, we are the plant police.

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DEAN BECKER: Program note – that speaker that I thought was a Senator was actually a staff person for Senator John Kerry.

We’re going to wrap it up here. I want to remind you, once again, that there is no truth, no justice, logic, scientific fact, no reason for this drug war to exist. Please visit our website, http://endprohibition.org. There you can join with many others trying to end this madness. Prohibido istac evilesco!

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[ guitar music ]

DEAN BECKER: I want to dedicate this program to the Caravan for Peace and poet Javier Sicilia who also loves Senor Zimmerman. This is Masters of War.

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[ guitar music ]

You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

[harmonica]

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes it's toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

[harmonica]

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