Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"We're inundated with sexual assault cases"

From LEAP staff member Charmie Gholson:
That's Captain Terry of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, lamenting about how stretched thin his staff is, regarding both registered sexual offenders and those that haven't yet been caught. He needs more money, I'd bet, and manpower to really police the situation.

Where-oh-where might they get more money?

The trillion dollars spent on the "war on drugs" since 1970 has brought us 35 million arrests and done nothing to eliminate drugs from society. We need to be using that money in better ways, and the horrific nightmare that has been the last 18 years of Jaycee Dugard's life illustrates how we could better use police resources.

The speakers at LEAP want to restore the publics faith in police and also be allowed to do real police work instead of constant, resource sucking drug interdiction. I can't help but wonder if the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office would have been able to recognize this man for the insane, dangerous monster he is if they had been fully present.

This article in the Mercury News offers more details of how ill prepared the county is when dealing with registered sex offenders. From the news article:

The Megan's Law (registered offenders) database has grown by about three percent since December, to more than 65,000 names of those living in California communities. For law enforcement, the numbers are overwhelming, said Contra Costa County sheriff's Capt. Daniel Terry. He said about 1,700 registered sex offenders now live in the county — up nearly 50 percent in a decade. About 350 live in unincorporated pockets countywide.

"That's 349 more than detectives I have to monitor these people," said Terry. "And as dangerous as these people are, for every one of them that's been through the criminal justice system, there's a handful that are just as dangerous and haven't been caught yet. We're inundated with sexual assault cases."

A task force including the sheriff's office and local police visited Garrido's house during a July 2008 sweep to check on compliance — that he lived where he said he did, said Terry. They entered the house and walked through, noticed nothing unusual and left.

"There was no evidence to support any type of foul pay or illicit activity that would violate his position as a (Megan's Law) registrant," he said. "Did we go into his backyard and climb the 8-foot wall into the compound that for 17 years nobody knew he was using? No, we did not."

Contra Costa County sheriff's Capt. Daniel Terry appears to be incorrect when he says that no one knew Garrido was using the backyard. A neighbor called 911 and reported "suspicious circumstances involving young children in the backyard" in 2006. Sheriff Warren Rupf has since apologized for the department's response to that call and the missed opportunity to rescue Jaycee Dugard.

That same year, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office assisted the feds in conducting a four month wiretap surveillance of suspected drug-dealers. They conducted subsequent raids in March of 2006. How much time and money did this raid consume? Could those resources have been better used in this community? Some may think not. Some folks may think arresting drug dealers will keep us safer.

The article reports the arrest of prominent gang suspects, subordinates and street-level drug-dealing suspects. And do you know what those arrests created? Job openings. In the next 12 or 18 months you'll read about another fantastical drug bust that's really cleaned up the place.

"All of the violence we've seen in North Richmond lately, we want it to end," said Contra Costa sheriff's Lt. Kitty Parker of the investigation and raid. "The violence is there because of the drugs. Everything stems from the drugs."

No it doesn't, Lt. Parker. Drugs aren’t the problem. Our drug policy is.

Sure, sometimes addicts do violent things, but a majority of our community violence is due to petty thugs fighting over the unregulated drug market. Just like during alcohol prohibition. When the St. Valentines day massacre went down, nobody said, “lets keep chasing these guys.” They said, this is crazy. Kids are dying from bath tub gin, we’re spending too much money fighting these criminals and this whole idea of keeping folks from drinking isn’t working.

They re-legalized and regulated alcohol. They took back their streets. Now those guys selling alcohol settle differences in court, not on the streets with guns. The Budweiser driver and Petron delivery driver never shoot at each other to gain control of a neighborhood.

It's too late for Jaycee to have been saved sooner than later. But we can refocus our (limited) law enforcement resources into area's that will actually keep communities safer.

Legalize and regulate drugs. All of them.


  1. David, you are absolutely right. Thank you for your efforts.

    Perhaps you have heard of the recent softening of drug laws in Mexico and in Argentina. The death toll in Mexico due to the drug war has been horrifying, and change was desperately needed. Let's not forget Portugal, either, and the success they have seen from re-legalization.

  2. Thanks but Charmie wrote this one - I just posted it!

    I agree there are some good things happening internationally. It does feel like the tide is turning, albeit slowly.

  3. Bringing this post and today's together:

    Report: Australian Man fathered four with daughter

    Although one can't blame the cops/budget for this since even her mom said she had no clue, but how can a mom shrug her shoulders as to the father all the while her daughter has 4 kids? How could any parent not be livid their daughter was having so many kids and no father was being named?

    However, more to the point of this blog post is this short write-up I did:

    U.S. to Rape Victims and Loved Ones, "We Care More About Hunting Down and Locking Up Every Last Drug User Than Your Alleged Rape."

    Watch a short TV segment reporting just one city with this problem: 400,000+ Rape Victims Wait in Vain Due to Funding Drug War Instead of Finding Rapists

  4. It is very refreshing to hear how well people are starting to understand the true cost of drug prohibition. It is very clear from reading this blog that the message to end prohibition is needed. The governments of most countries are slowly realizing that this issue is one of public health and not law enforcement. Most politicians still think supporting prohibition is the only policy they can support in order to get re-elected. Thanks to L.E.A.P. and other like minded reform organizations those attitudes are changing.

  5. Wow, what a great opportunity to tell the world what the War on Drugs is costing us as a society, and to point out the fact that despite all of the resources being poured into it, it's still a colossal failure. Too bad that once a bureaucracy like the one created by the War on Drugs is established, it protects itself so well - Government programs are much, much easier to modify than to eliminate, and the War on Drugs is no exception.

  6. John Walsh of America's Most Wanted, tonight, expressed his unhappiness with Congress not funding the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. He spoke of bailouts. But I think LEAP needs to contact him and convince him to join the coalition to end the War on Drugs!

  7. David,

    True, drugs are not the problem. But neither is our drug policy.

    Lt. Parker said that "everything stems from the drugs." I'd argue that everything stems from humanity's propensity to succumb to the darker side of its nature. (i.e. immediate gratification, lack of impulse control, etc.)

    Conflict over drug turf doesn't result in violence any more than a beautiful woman causes a man to cheat on his wife, Big Macs are to blame for high cholesterol, or a gun is at fault in a homicide.

    It all comes down to human free will. We all have the ability to choose to not pull the trigger (or to order the salad instead, for that matter).

    But changing the way people think (and the choices they make) will always present more of a challenge than changing the the law.


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