07/07/13 Ray Hill

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Ray Hill & Martina Grifaldo discuss forthcoming rally to end mass incarceration in Wash DC + Doug McVay of Drug War Facts

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / July 7, 2013



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

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

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

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


DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends, we’ve got a great show lined up for you today. I am Dean Becker, your host. We have with us in studio Mr. Ray Hill. You’ve been listening to us, this prison show, for many years.

We also have Martina Grifaldo. We have, as engineer, Steve Nolin. He’s president of Houston NORML.

The reason we’re here is to talk about a new organization, a new effort to end mass incarceration in these United States. With that I want to open up the discussion to Ray Hill. What is this effort about, Ray?

RAY HILL: We lock up, in this country, too many people for too long a time for too little reason and too poor results. It costs too much money. The whole gestalt of thinking the solution to every problem is another criminal law or the enhancement of the punishment of an existing law – we’ve gotten drunk on that and if that worked, Dean, if that had any impact on the perceived problems than I would kind of slink off in the corner and say, “Well, that’s just the way it is.”

But people go to prison and instead of getting better – I don’t care if they go to prison for being thieves or if they go to prison for drug-related charges or whatever it is they go to prison for – in a very serious, Pavlovian sense…you remember Pavlo and his slobbering dogs…in a very real Pavlovian sense (and you fellows out there sitting in your cell block listening to us, thank you for listening to Cultural Baggage because this is an important show for your future).

You’re sitting there listening to us and you’re saying, “Well, I’m not…” Let me tell you “word” that you’re fixin’ to get out you will start slobbering because you think that freedom means access to the opportunity to steal other people’s stuff or the opportunity to access drugs. That’s what you call a Papavlov effect.

It’s a conditioning effect and you can’t really do anything about it.

DEAN BECKER: Ray, let’s underscore that thought with you’ve spent some time in prisons. You know what you are talking about.

RAY HILL: I was sentenced to 160 years in a Texas penitentiary for commercial burglaries and I went to prison in 1970 – the same year we managed to KPFT on the air. We got KPFT on the air in March and I went to prison in November.

I was sentenced to 160 years or 20 consecutive 8 year sentences but I was able to become a jailhouse lawyer and get out in 4 years, 4 months and 17 days by amending my sentence.

Then I got out and came back to the radio station. Five years after I got out I was General Manager and started the Prison Show. Speaking of which I want to welcome Martina as a guest here because Martina is the Spanish speaking voice on the Prison Show every Friday night from 9 until 11 o’clock.

DEAN BECKER: I’m glad to have Martina here. She is with Alamex, the Alonso Mexicana – an organization that….well, tell us about it. What’s that about?

MARTINA GRIFALDO: Thank you so much, guys. Thank you for letting me come here and say what is important to our community.

Alonso Mexicana is one of the organizations which fight for the human rights. How many times we don’t have rights?! …police officers, immigration officers, the owners of the apartment complexes…Everybody doesn’t respect the human rights.

Now we are right here to help stop the mass incarceration. We really think this is a very serious problem.

RAY HILL: Maritina, it’s a more serious problem among Spanish speaking citizens than it is among others, is it not?


RAY HILL: A higher percentage of Hispanic males are in prison…

MARTINA GRIFALDO: 34.9% are Latino.

RAY HILL: …and a higher percentage of Latinas are in Texas women’s prison than their proportion in the population. It’s just that there’s not as much justice available and it starts when you leave your house.

When you leave your house, because you’ve got brown complexion, you are more likely to be stopped than somebody that is Anglo.

MARTINA GRIFALDO: That is a very good question. Why the Latinos – why?

The Latino community doesn’t have the power that non-Latinos have. Some of them are here without non-legal status and that makes them be scared and take abuse from these kind of corporations.

Another reason is they do not have the money to pay the lawyers – the right lawyers.

DEAN BECKER: That’s kind of endemic to what’s going on in the United States. A month ago approximately the ACLU came out with a report that says blacks are arrested at a rate of 3.7 times that of white people and that Hispanics are in there around 2 point something times the rate of whites. This is across the country.

This is in Houston. This is in Texas. This is within every state in America that there is just this inherent bias in what police officers do. They are out there assuming blacks and Hispanics are needing pulled over.

MARTINA GRIFALDO: Yes and because I’m Spanish speaking let me say this in Spanish, please.

DEAN BECKER: por favor

MARTINA GRIFALDO: [Spanish paragraphs]

RAY HILL: So, you’re very apt to get stopped and then after you get stopped you’re very apt to get searched and whether they find anything (the officer might have brought a little something to find and it gets thrown down) and, all of the sudden, you’ve got a case.

Then you get to court and because you are brown or you are black you are going to face harsher punishment than if you are white.

This is a continuing pattern. Now I know you white guys down there in the joint are saying, “No, that’s not true. Look, I got all this time.”

Well, you got all this time and you probably had all that dope anyway. The fact of the matter is the system works poorly for people that are perceived as powerless.

MARTINA GRIFALDO: [Spanish paragraphs]

DEAN BECKER: Now, I appreciate the Spanish but most of my audience only speaks English so let’s help them out.

RAY HILL: Well, we’re working to change that, Dean.


RAY HILL: We’re going to bring you a new audience.

DEAN BECKER: I would hope for that as well. Martina, last summer I went cross country with Javier Sicilia and the Caravan for Peace.

RAY HILL: I went to the rallies here.

DEAN BECKER: This effort to end mass incarceration needs the Hispanic community to get involved. It needs the black community to get involved and it needs these white reformers who have been involved to step it up, to bring it to a head, to bring it to and end because we have fought this drug war now for decades and yet there is no one in positions of power willing to come on this show and defend this policy because it just cannot be done.

What I’m wanting us to do is to reach out to all these various communities and to encourage them to visit us on our main site now is on Facebook to stop mass incarceration. Right, Ray?

RAY HILL: Right. What you do is you put in the whole thing, http://www.facebook.com/stopmassincarcerationcommunity and it will pop up. You can tell by the hands on the bars that you are at the right place.

DEAN BECKER: The fact of the matter is what we are anticipating, what we are going to do is put on a march next Spring in Washington, D.C. and to let these elected officials know that we’ve had enough.

RAY HILL: Let me take time to explain to your loyal listeners. The effort to stop the War on Drugs is larger than the effort to end mass incarceration because there are a lot of issues…the confiscation issue, the corporate profit issue, the banking issue, the corruption issue and the politics issue.

The War on Drugs is feeding a lot more than just incarceration. By the same token the end of mass incarceration is a larger issue in its own right than the War on Drugs but the overlap (where those two issues overlap, the middle ground that affects both issues) is important for all of our attention.

I want you folks to pay especially close attention to both of those movements. The world is not so simple that you can zero specialize on one thing.

If we did not have those prisons they would not full but if we build them we will see that there is convicts to fill every one of those cells and some of those cells are making corporate profit by taking away people’s liberty.

DEAN BECKER: Yah, “if you build it – they will come.”

MARTINA GRIFALDO: Exactly, it is an Latino, African-American issue. I’m a Latino. I’m talking with my Latino friends. Now they listen to me.

They say, “OK, with your support we can do something about it. I know we can change it and we can stop this mass incarceration.”


This is a Latino issue. This is an African-American issue. This is an all country issue.

DEAN BECKER: It is. Whether you use drugs out there or not, my friends, you are impacted by this drug war on a daily basis.

RAY HILL: I put you on the air at KPFT at one point and I have a 54-year drug and alcohol-free AA chip in my pocket. I was a teetotaler when we met but instantly, because I’d been to prison and I know what happens, I saw the importance of your effort to end the War on Drugs.

Prisons are full of people either directly (for possession or delivery, which is sharing) drug-related cases with enhanced punishment or they’re in prison because they needed money to finance their habits which could have been treated but were ignored until they become critical or they just did the most stupid thing you can imagine while being drunk and stoned.

If you added all those elements together you’re talking 70% of the people in prison – 70% are drug-related directly or indirectly.

We need to get that 70% of people out. We need to teach the courts to be sensitive of a lowered level of culpability of people who are in to altered states of consciousness and the cause of that is a mental health problem. We need to treat that as a mental health problem so that instead of incarcerating those people we need to treat them for their addictions be it alcohol or whatever substance it is. We need to make treatment available to them so they can get control on that.

Then there’s a whole world of recreational drug users that do not even have an addiction problem but because of possession or delivery are in prison, too.

There may be a couple prisoners out there that may remember me from the prison show and know that I have been saying these things for more than 30 years.

DEAN BECKER: It’s been 28 years since I’ve had a drink of alcohol. That was my demon drug. I’ve mentioned this before. I was busted 13 times mostly on minor stuff but 11 of them were for being drunk and then finding drugs in my pocket. They never busted me for being drunk, mind you.

RAY HILL: It’s a bigger fish if you got a joint in your pocket they forget all about the alcohol and stick you with the joint.

DEAN BECKER: 28 years ago I quit and I haven’t had one ticket, on wreck, no problems whatsoever. Alcohol was my problem drug.

Now, Martina, I want to talk to you about…we’re talking about the way they throw the net and find our children for minor amounts of drugs it has impacted your life, too. Can you talk about that?

MARTINA GRIFALDO: I know a lot of cases but this is a personal case. My son is in prison now. He is on a 7 year sentence because they found some drugs with him.

DEAN BECKER: 1/2 of a pound…

MARTINA GRIFALDO: It was 200 grams…

DEAN BECKER: 200 grams = 1/2 of a pound.

MARTINA GRIFALDO: Yes but these drugs did not belong to him. These drugs were his friend’s drugs but he was in the car. I always say, “Why they don’t think give to him some counselor, some treatment?”

It is not only him in jail it is all my family in jail now. My heart is with him. My grandchildren – that’s the only uncle they have. He is my only son and he is there.

It is so hard for me to drive 200 miles every weekend to go see him. He’s my only son. I’ve got 2 daughters but he is my only son. I have my heart broke when I see him and he says, “Mom, I want to go home. I want to go home.”

He can’t. He has to stay there. I don’t know for how long – maybe 2 or 1 more year. It was only one time. This was the first time they found drugs on him.

RAY HILL: And no previous record?

MARTINA GRIFALDO: No previous record.

RAY HILL: So 7 years for a collective stash – several people – and they got more than just her son. Everybody else faced something. Some were able to cop pleas and get out with relatively light sentences. Other people, if they fought it, really got stuck with it.

DEAN BECKER: 1 /2 pound in Travis County is 2 misdemeanors with, at max, 60 days in jail.

RAY HILL: Absolutely. Right here in Texas, Austin, Travis County the DA over there…for the last three DAs over there…we had one of them just do a little time for getting drunk, by the way….Travis County elects DAs that are open-minded about these things.

DEAN BECKER: There is a bill that was passed by our legislature 5/6 years ago that says it is no longer necessary to arrest anybody for under 4 ounces…you know, 2 packages that her son got caught with – no longer necessary to arrest them or jail them.

Again, Travis, Austin does that. Houston and all the rest of the state does that. It creates too much paperwork they say.

MARTINA GRIFALDO: A lot of these kids they have problems at home. They’ve had problems since they were little. Why don’t they think on that? They make a wrong decision but they are not a bad person.

RAY HILL: In the last couple years we have worked very hard to get mental health courts. We’ve worked very hard to get drug courts in Harris County. We’ve worked very hard to get Veterans Courts and Homeless Courts in Harris County.

Unfortunately, none of that kicks in so that you can actually use it. Guys and women out there that are listening…a mother has no one to call until her son or daughter is in jail, in the hospital or, heaven forbid, the morgue.

Then her only purpose is to try to find the resources to defend her child against a massive system who has got disproportionate power and intent to damage his or her life.

We need to bring this to a halt. The way we do it is we stop building prisons. We stop sending as many people to prison and we look at the laws on a rational basis of dealing with social problems.

DEAN BECKER: In regards to the effort to end the mass incarceration in these United States the fact of the matter is that we have the Lawyers Guild is now…

RAY HILL: The Lawyers Guild, the American Law Institute (which is basically the Bar Association for law professors) are already on it. I’m already in communication with the Goldman’s Lawyer’s Guild but they are virtually powerless but American Law Institute is powerful because in the 60s they rewrote every state penal code in the United States to make them uniform.

If they can do that in the 60s they can do that again and they are thinking about how to do that. The problem they perceive is there is no political cover for politicians to show courage on this level of reform but in less than a decade we could rewrite every penal code in every state reducing the amount of time because every time a state legislature gets together it’s a damn contest for them to pass new criminal laws and answer to the most obscure problems or increase the punishment of others.

We haven’t even touched on the overly broad brush for offender registration. Let me tell you if you think this deals with sex offenders there are now 12 categories of crime for which they can register you and keep you under surveillance so even when you get out of jail you’re in an electronic prison as far as your body and movement.

DEAN BECKER: Less folks think that we here in Texas or in Houston are too constrained by these laws and these “yeah-whos” that run the law. You got another thing coming.

We have, I think, the courage and the resolve and perhaps the bucks to do something about this. We need you folks in the rest of the United States to join with us in this effort.

I want to mention, once again, my good friend here – the man who first put me on the radio – Mr. Ray Hill. He has experience at this and besides running Pacifica Radio and the Prison Show for dang near 30 years…

RAY HILL: A little over 30….

DEAN BECKER: A little over 30 and having been very instrumental in some marches on Washington, D.C. Tell us a little bit about that experience.

RAY HILL: The first march on Washington that I led was the Student Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam on the Pentagon in 1967. That was easy. All I needed to do was get in touch with college kids who were scared to death. Their grades would fall down that the next draft number would be theirs.

Those kids would pack 25 in a Volkswagen micro-bus and drive through 400 miles of snow from Ohio to get to Washington, D.C. to do that. Veterans who were wounded….i led a contingent of veterans across a bridge across the Potomac river and they threw their purple hearts and other medals over the back fence of the White House because that war affected their lives. Those people are still in wheelchairs and still with artificial limbs.

In 1979 when Harvey Milk got assassinated I was dubbed to carry the leadership for the march for Lesbian/Gay equality. We only got 80,000 in Washington but nobody had seen that many queers in one pile before…

Movements are a numbers game. If the members of a family of someone in prison can scrape together 35 or 40 bucks I’ll see to it that there is a seat on the bus from Houston to Washington, D.C. next Spring.

I’m talking about potentially 200,000 people within this broadcast footprint.

DEAN BECKER: Those people who are listening…if they believe in the seriousness of this, if they understand that this is a definite commitment and it is going to happen – we need you.

We need you to step up to the plate. We need you to get involved, to get on board.

RAY HILL: Join the Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/endmassincarcerationcomunity

When it says “Join” – click on that and we’ll keep you informed.

DEAN BECKER: That was Ray Hill we were just listening to. We have with us Martina Grifaldo. We’re going to close out with a couple of segments here.

We need you. This drug war has gone on way too long. It needs to be at least redesigned, my God. You can help in that effort.

Please go to…once again…the website….

RAY HILL: http://www.facebook.com/endmassincarcerationcomunity

DEAN BECKER: Thank you both for being here.


(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Problems breathing in large breaths, bearded women, 2-year-olds entering puberty, increased sperm count, increased risk for prostate cancer, swelling of the ankles leading to a heart attack and death…


Time's up! The answer: from Avian, Inc. AndroGel for low testosterone.


[harmonica music]

The DEA’s the joker,
The FDA’s the joke.
The Joke is on the U.S.A.
So why not take a poke.


DOUG McVAY: K2, spice, bath salts, kratom, khat, salvia, ketamine, mephedrone – what all these have in common is that they are lumped into a category of drugs called New Psychoactive Substances.

It's all the rage. In the US, the National Alliance for Model State Laws has for the past few years been promoting and tracking state and local legislation prohibiting synthetic cannabinoids and other New Psychoactive Substances. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime devoted almost half of its most recent annual World Drug Report to New Psychoactive Substances.

So what the heck are they? According to the UNODC, quote:

“NPS are substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by international drug conventions, but which may pose a public health threat. In this context, the term "new" does not necessarily refer to new inventions but to substances that have newly become available in specific markets. In general, NPS is an umbrella term for unregulated (new) psychoactive substances or products intended to mimic the effects of controlled drugs.” End quote.

Well that's simple. So how big is the problem? Again according to UNODC, quote:

“The number of NPS reported by Member States to UNODC rose from 166 at the end of 2009 to 251 by mid-2012, an increase of more than 50 per cent. For the first time, the number of NPS actually exceeded the total number of substances under international control (234).” End quote.

That's 485 substances. Sounds like a lot, yet consider this, also from UNODC, quote:

“Generally, the following kinds of impacts have been observed after the scheduling of a NPS: The substance remains on the market, but its use declines immediately. Examples include mephedrone in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, BZP in New Zealand, "legal highs" in Poland, mephedrone in Australia and MDPV in the United States of America; Use of the substance declines after a longer interval, maybe a year or more (e.g. ketamine in the United States); Scheduling has little or no immediate impact on the use of the substance, e.g. 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as "ecstasy", in the United States and other countries.

Further, there are cases of NPS disappearing from the market. This has also been the case with the majority of the substances controlled under the 1961 Convention and the 1971 Convention. Of the 234 substances currently under international control, only a few dozen are still being misused, and the bulk of the misuse is concentrated in a dozen such substances.” End quote.

251 New Psychoactive Substances – some not so new yet still, new to the authorities and to the world at large. It can be hard to keep up with it all. At least from now on, you'll be able to find out about these New Psychoactive Substances in a brand new chapter devoted to them in Drug War Facts. Check it out at Drug War Facts dot org.

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


DEAN BECKER: OK, friends, that’s it – we’re out of time. Because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag – please, be careful.


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

Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

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