Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

September 2021
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: Drugs

President Obama’s Dramatic Commutation Plan

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

This column recently presented the historic changes made by the Obama Administration to change the direction of drug enforcement, drug offender punishment and treatment for drug abusers. For the first time in four decades the executive branch has embarked on a systematic and multi-front program to reduce the penalties for convicted drug traffickers.

But it has also provided a program for early treatment of drug users who previously were limited to emergency rooms after overdoses followed by expensive hospital stays and limited rehabilitation.

One of the methods used by the President to affect the punishment scheme has been to wield his pardon and commutation power. President Obama has already set records by his commutation policy with 185 reduced sentences, 171 of which were in 2015, more than the combined number of the previous five Presidents combined.  Most of those grants have involved convicted drug traffickers serving long term prison sentences. The offenders chosen had little or no history of violence and were not repeat offenders.

Article II, section 2 of the Constitution, Clause 1 provides:  The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. The President’s clemency authority stems from the practice of Anglo-Saxon Kings to pardon, and it has not been seriously challenged either by Congress or the courts since it was included in the Constitution over two hundred years ago. It is now firmly ingrained in American public policy.

president obama- white house photo

Executive pardons and commutations are sometimes confused. Pardons are an expression of forgiveness by the President which removes the effects of a conviction, such as civil disabilities like voting, holding office or possessing firearms. Commutations, on the other hand, do not affect the conviction and only reduce sentences. The civil disabilities remain in effect. For example, a pardon can remove the legal basis for immigration deportation whereas a commutation will not.

Not since the period of 1919-1923 under the administrations of Presidents Wilson and Harding have substantial numbers of commutations been granted. During the period of 1986 to 1998 only 6 commutations were granted. Only President Johnson of the modern Presidents regularly used commutations under his executive clemency power. Other Presidents have used it sparingly: Nixon (60), Ford (22), Carter (29), Reagan (13), H.W. Bush (3), Clinton (61), Bush (11).

Now there is reason to believe that the final year of Obama’s Presidency will witness unprecedented numbers of commutations and pardons, potentially thousands, a total which will exceed any action in American history. Over 19,000 commutation petitions have been received, as many as the previous eight Presidents combined. The private pro bono group The Clemency Project is presently reviewing tens of thousands of additional petition requests for potential submission to the Office of Pardon Attorney in the Justice Department.

This onslaught is largely the result of DOJ’s announcement in April 2014 of an initiative to encourage qualified inmates to file petitions to reduce their sentences.

In 2015 President Obama spread his message of drug penalty reform to an Oklahoma prison, the first sitting President to make such an appearance. Petition requests are conditioned on a record of non-violence, a likelihood of a lower sentence under recent legislative and Sentencing Commission changes, a low-level role without significant ties to criminal organizations, gangs or cartels, custody for at least 10 years, and good conduct in prison.

DOJ recently announced an intention to hire 16 new Attorney Advisors (salary range $92,145 to $141,555) for the Office of Pardon Attorney to help process the clemency petitions and prepare recommendations to the Deputy Attorney General and the President. This move demonstrates what a high priority the initiative has in the Department and the Administration.

Criticism of Obama’s plan comes from various law enforcement and GOP sources. The President of the National Association of United States Attorneys considers his drug “reform” measures to be inconsistent with the long term security of the country. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte complained to the Attorney General that the initiative is unconstitutional, a “blatant usurpation of law making authority of the legislative branch.”

It would not be surprising for there to be legal action against the President’s plan. But it is doubtful that a court would eventually interfere (although there is some authority in dictum by Chief Justice Burger in the 1974 case of Schick v. Reed that pardons which violate other provisions of the Constitution could be invalid). However, any stay ordered by a federal judge in connection with a civil action could affect the President’s timetable. He has almost exactly one year, January 17, 2017, when the new President is sworn in, to take action.

Expect a staggering number of inmate releases in the next twelve months through commutations, probably several thousand, by far the largest number in U.S. history. Plus over 8,000 releases of inmates as a result of re-sentencing after the Obama-initiated changes by the Sentencing Commission of the Sentencing Guidelines. The combined effect will be one of the most spectacular actions by a President in the waning days of his presidency.

Whether the policy will ultimately be beneficial to the public or a dangerous miscalculation will be much debated by historians and in early morning diner klatches around America for years to come.

Mexican Drug Cartel Founder Found Dead, Tortured And Riddled with Bullets

Carlos Rosales Mendoza

Carlos Rosales Mendoza

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Mexican drug cartel founder who was on the DEA’s Most Wanted List was found tortured and dead along with three other men dumped along the side of the road, The Daily Mail reports.

Carlos Rosales Mendoza, who founded La Familia Michoacana, was found riddled with bullets.

Mendoza was a key member of the La Familia cartel.

According to authorities, Mendoza was trying to start a new cartel when he died.

Other Stories of Interest

Federal Crackdown on Pain Meds Turning Legitimate Patients into Victims

pain medsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Patients with a legitimate need for pain medication are having a hard time getting their drugs because of a crackdown on opioid addiction, Al Jazeera reports. 

Since the 2013 crackdown began, more pharmacists are refusing to fill valid prescriptions for controlled substances, even to people with a legitimate need.

“But federal drug policy has done the most damage. For the past five years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been orchestrating a high-stakes proxy war between physicians and pharmacists, creating tens of thousands of so-called ‘opioid refugees’ in the process,” Al Jazeera wrote.

Among those hardest hit are poor, minority and elderly people who have a legitimate need for pain meds.

Al Jazeera called it the “equivalent of medical redlining.”

The So-Called ‘Adorable Drug Kingpin’ is the Daughter of a DEA Special Agent

Sarah Furay, dubbed the "Adorable Drug Kingpin."

Sarah Furay, dubbed the “Adorable Drug Kingpin.”

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 19-year-old woman’s beaming booking photo following her arrest on drug trafficking charges went viral, and she was dubbed the “adorable drug kingpin.”

Now for another twist: The suspect is the daughter of a DEA special agent, the Dallas Morning News reports. 

Sarah Furay, 19, was charged with possessing and selling ecstasy, meth, cocaine and marijuana.

Turns out, Furay is the daughter of Bill Furray, a supervisor special agent for the DEA, currently serving as the agency’s diplomatic attache at the U.S. Ambassador’s office in Panama City, Panama.

The father has declined to comment, saying it’s a personal issue.

Other Stories of Interest

‘El Chapo’s Cartel Influence Continues to Be Strong in U.S. After His Prison Escape

DEA map

DEA map

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Although Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman was jailed and escaped from a Mexican prison in July, his Sinaloa cartel continues to traffic drugs across the border on a massive scale, The Daily Mail reports.

A newly released map by the DEA shows that El Chapo’s gang continues to yield tremendous influence, sending drugs all over the U.S.

A DEA report indicates that Sinaloa “maintains the most significant presence in the United States.”

“These Mexican poly-drug organizations traffic heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana throughout the United States, using established transportation routes and distribution networks,” the report states.

“They control drug trafficking across the southwest border and are moving to expand their share, particularly in the heroin and methamphetamine markets.”

Other Stories of Interest

Open Letter to DEA Chief: It’s Not Time to Resign – Yet – of Marijuana Remarks

Chuck Rosenberg

Chuck Rosenberg

By David Casarett, M.D.
for Huffington Post

Dear Mr. Rosenberg:

When I heard you say recently that you thought medical marijuana was a “joke,” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But I knew then what I think you’re beginning to figure out now, which is that saying something like that gets you in a whole heap of trouble.

As I think you’ve realized, those opinions are direct repudiation of the beliefs of all of those people who are using marijuana for medical reasons. (Even the most conservative estimates based on registered users conclude that well over a millionpeople in the U.S. alone are using marijuana medically).

So I’m sorry for what you’ve been through in the past two weeks. Especially those pesky people (about 100,000 of them) who have signed a petition calling for your resignation. That must be bothering you a bit.

But don’t give up. All is not lost, and you could learn to see marijuana differently.

I can say that with confidence because two years ago I thought medical marijuana was a joke too. I figured it offered no real medical benefits, and that it was just a way to get high legally.

My (re)education started in my work as a palliative care physician, when one of my patients asked me whether I thought medical marijuana might help her. The answer I gave her, I’m embarrassed to admit, is pretty much what you told people of United States: Marijuana has no medical benefits. Put simply, I told her that the idea of “medical” marijuana is a joke.

That patient of mine could’ve walked out of my office to look for another, more open-minded doctor. But, luckily for me, she didn’t. Instead she handed me several reprints of randomized controlled trials showing that in fact medical marijuana does offer real medical benefits.

So in that moment I had to admit that my patient knew more than I did about the science of medical marijuana. And I figured if I was that ignorant about marijuana’s benefits, then many of my colleagues probably were too. That’s when I decided to spend two years researching and writing a book about the medical benefits of marijuana.

In the last two years I’ve had to admit that I was wrong. Very wrong. (In much the same way, and for the same reasons, that you’re wrong now.)

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

DEA Busts 2 Members of Venezuelan President’s Family in Alleged Drug-Smuggling Scheme

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, via Wikipedia.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA has busted a drug-smuggling ring that led to the arrest of the Venezuelan president’s family in Haiti, UPI.com reports. 

Arrested were two nephews of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores Freites are accused of trying to smuggle 1,700 pounds of cocaine from Haiti to the U.S.

The nephews tried to claim they had diplomatic immunity, a claim that didn’t work with the DEA.

They were taken to New York awaiting a court hearing today.

Other Stories of Interest

Federal Lawsuit: FBI Agents Used Excessive Force with 3 Children in Drug Raid

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal lawsuit accuses FBI agents of using excessive force during a drug raid at a New Mexican trailer where three children were sleeping, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

According to the suit, FBI agents blew open the front door with a stun grenade, causing shrapnel to strike a 10-year-old boy in the head and shoulder. A 12-year-old girl was forced to walk outside on glass, cutting her feet. All three children, including the 9-year-old, were emotionally traumatized, the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Las Cruces alleges.

The May 2013 raid was part of a pre-dawn bust of 22 suspected drug and gun dealers.

The FBI declined to comment on pending litigation.