Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jefferson Co. Drug Court Judge Race

Just read in the BHAM News this morning that the Jefferson Co. Drug Court Judge race is happening in November. This is a Place 2 race if you are in Jefferson County. The candidates are Judge Davis Lawley, who is currently the drug court Judge in Jeff. Co., was appointed by Gov. Riley because Riley and his mama were friends and is a former door-kicker-inner for a drug task force as well as a former prosecutor for a drug task force ( and who I had a run-in with earlier this year) and Shanta Owens a former prosecutor with the Jefferson Co. District Attorneys office.

From the article...

Davis Lawley:

Lawley, 46, said Drug Court needs an experienced judge versed in the latest methods to break addiction.

"You have to have specialized knowledge of what an addict is and what is needed to help them recover," he said. "You have to be patient and do it correctly, and not just be there processing cases. I care about the court, know how it's put together and know what it needs to keep going."

So, Judge Lawley, what are the newest methods to break addiction? I work with addicts nearly every day. I just lost a brother a few weeks ago to alcohol and opiate addiction and I have another one who shits blood every day because he is more addicted to alcohol than anyone else I have ever come across. If you are so 'versed' in what it takes to break addiction then do tell what you know so that I may save my remaining brother's life. If you know how to break addiction will you tell us now or will you pull a John McCain and not tell us unless we elect you?

As for being patient and doing it correctly....I recall that when I questioned you at the Federalist Society meeting earlier this year you said, "Everyone in the room here is educated so I can say this....Chairman Mao in China cut off the heads of drug addicts and pushers...we can't do that here of course so we have drug court."

Is that your definition of being patient and doing it right? Would you lop off the heads of addicts and dealers, like your hero Chairman Mao if you could? If I recall correctly the MAO also targeted intellectuals, which you might possibly be considered if you had lived in China during that time. But, judging from what I saw that day when you and I came toe to toe you might escape with your head because your intellect is certainly questionable.

"I care about the court" translates to "I want to keep my job". "I know how its put together"....Well, so does nearly everyone else. "I know what it takes to keep it going" and so do we. Keeping it going translates to the continued rounding up on non-violent drug offenders (pot smokers especially) and extorting them of all their money and when they run out of money putting them in one of your nifty government cages.

Shanta Owens:

While prosecuting felony cases in Jefferson County Circuit Court, Owens has learned that punishment isn't the only tool for dealing with drug issues, she said.

"I know how to appropriately punish the drug offenders who deserve it, the sellers and traffickers, but also be compassionate to those who have an addiction," she said.

"I have been tough on violent crime," she said. "But I also have advocated drug treatment and rehabilitation for several defendants."

Owens, 31, resigned from the prosecutor's office earlier this year to run for the judgeship. She said she prosecuted more than 100 jury trials during her tenure.

I do not know a lot about Ms. Owens. I do know that some of my friends at TASC in BHAM support her as individuals (not as an organization) and I know the person who handles her credit card donations. I have heard from them that she is more focused on helping people as opposed to punishing them. Her statements to the newspaper somewhat reflect that. I also hear that she has a pretty good understanding of what the drug war has done to the African-American community. I will be talking to some others today about what else she thinks about the drug war over all.

It is hard for me to endorse a candidate for drug court. Drug court should not exist. The drug war should not exist. People who want to use drugs should be allowed to use all the drugs they want and not be accosted by law enforcement unless they endanger others or deny someone else life, liberty or property. If they become addicted then it should be their or their family's decision to get them treatment. Drug court ISN'T TREATMENT. Drug court is a money scam and government sanctioned harassment of people who are sick and need medical care. Addiction should not be a law enforcement issue. It is a health and social issue.

Having said that, if I lived in Birmingham and the election was held today I'd cast my vote for Shanta Owens. At least she has never lovingly referred to a Communist Tyrant and his penchant for lopping off the heads of people with a medical condition.


The Ripley Porch said...

The sad truth is that which ever judge candidate comes up and says the best "treatment" for a drug-user is prayer...likely gets a majority of voters in Bama. Thats the sad reality of life in the state.

The state needs some kind of alcohol program that makes sense and offers some hope. I think if you asked families affected by a member who is a hard drinker....everyone of them would like to have the guy or gal in a recovered situation.

Jenda said...

His website that answers your questions, as best one can insofar as treatment continues to be only marginally effective, is
Bizarrely, groups like AA that use those dreaded "faith based initiatives" that Obama supports perhaps even more than Bush does are indeed more effective than strictly secular treatments. Fortunately, the "opiate of the masses" tends to have fewer negative externalities than the real stuff.

Loretta Nall said...

Here is some food for thought

Author: Morris Hoffman
Note: Morris Hoffman is a state trial judge in Denver and an adjunct
professor of law at the University of Colorado.
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


They Turn Neutral Judges into Cheerleaders, Substitute Parents.

There are only two problems with drug courts. They don't work, and they turn judges into intrusive agents of the Nanny State.

Independent evaluations of drug courts have been mixed, but many show that drug courts have no, or very little, impact on re-arrest recidivism. In Denver, for example, where I sit as a trial judge, an evaluation of our drug court done by the insiders who ran it claimed enormous reductions in recidivism. But when independent evaluators from the University of Denver looked at the program, they found that it reduced recidivism from a depressing 58% down to a still depressing 53%. Even that 5-point drop was well within the study's margin of error.

But it's not just that drug courts don't work, or don't work well. They have the perverse effect of sending more drug defendants to prison, because their poor treatment results get swamped by an increase in the number of drug arrests. By virtue of a phenomenon social scientists call "net-widening," the very existence of drug courts stimulates drug arrests.

Police are no longer arresting criminals, they are trolling for patients. Denver's drug arrests almost tripled in the two years after we began our drug court. At the end of those two years, we were sending almost twice the number of drug defendants to prison than we did before drug court.

Drug courts also turn judges from neutral magistrates into a combination of treatment cheerleader and substitute parent. When we try to treat addiction either as a simple disease or a matter of criminal choice, and drug users as moral inpatients, the only thing we accomplish is to create a dangerous and untrained judiciary that thinks it can intrude into the lives of citizens for as long as it takes to cure them.

As a state felony trial judge, I understand the scourge of drugs as well as anyone. But trying to cover up our national schizophrenia over drug policy with the veneer of ineffective, even counterproductive, drug courts does no good, except perhaps to make judges feel better when we send our treatment failures to prison.

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