Friday, January 28, 2011

Shelby Co. Drug Court Testing Parents of Enrolled Juveniles

I got an email from a parent in Shelby Co. last night who has a juvenile child enrolled in drug court. This parent informed me that the judge (Kramer) forced a drug test on the spouse under threat of arrest "to prove the parents are good role models" and that this is standard procedure in Shelby Co. drug court.

DO WHAT?!?!?!?

I couldn't believe it. Couldn't figure out how such a thing could be legal. It seems to violate the "innocent until proven guilty" tenet upon which our entire judicial system is founded. The parents of the juvenile haven't violated any laws, they are not under the rule of any courts, no custody battles, no DHR or anything like that. One of the parents is a how can they be forced to submit to court ordered drug testing?

Hell, this case wasn't even about drugs to begin with. The kid in question shop lifted a pack of candy bars and got placed on probation. Later the kid tested positive for the fake marijuana that was outlawed last legislative session. I wasn't aware that a test had even been developed for the fake stuff. However, when I googled it I found that they have indeed developed a test to rapidly detect any fun one might possibly have.

Then the parent sent me the paperwork for enrollment and it was right there in black and white.

"Parents, Guardians, or Custodians is/are made party to herein shall"

X Submit to and pass drug and alcohol screens at the request of the drug
court team.

It also says that parents are not to have alcohol in the house and that they must allow entry to any drug court team member who just happens by. Alcohol is legal. This case has nothing to do with alcohol. How can it be legal for drug court to say that parents, who are of legal drinking age, are not allowed to drink alcohol in the privacy of their own home, when this case has nothing to do with alcohol?

Still, I thought this might be a case of some power tripping judge thinking he can get away with anything in his court room. So, I asked a couple of lawyers I know who sometimes have cases in Shelby Co. and they told me that this provision (make parents or guardian a party to case) is in the Alabama Juvenile Code. I looked it up this morning and Section 12-15-31(5) says;


Now, in 1975 when the code was written, there was no such thing as drug court in the State of Alabama. I'm not even sure drug testing existed in 1975. Problem is, the sentence above which says "A person made party may be subject to other things also." That is so broadly written that it can be made to fit anything a judge wants it to fit. It seems to me that the provision was mostly to make the parent responsible for paying the costs associated with juvenile court. It had absolutely nothing to do with drug testing the parents of a juvenile who is in trouble with the law. How can it apply to drug testing parents in 2011?

Also, the code says CAN be made a party...not WILL be made a party or HAS TO be made a party to. It also says persons made party to a case MAY be subject to other 'things'. It doesn't say WILL be subject to other things or what those other things might be.

So, what determines if a parent/guardian/custodian is made a party to a case? Are there any clear cut determining factors? Or is it, as I suspect, left up to the individual judge so that there are no clear guidelines?

I learned from one of the attorneys that I communicated with that if one of the parents fails a drug test they get sent directly to jail. How is putting the parent of a kid in trouble, in jail, supposed to help matters?

I've also asked a family court judge I know about all of this. I want to know is it standard procedure in all drug courts, or is it isolated to Shelby Co.?

All they are really doing is looking for more people to extort in drug court. I guess their reasoning is that if a kid does something wrong (and what kid hasn't shop lifted a piece of candy at least once?) then the parents must be doing things wrong, too. I always thought there had to be evidence of wrongdoing before prosecution could commence. Isn't that how our legal system is supposed to work?

I refuse to accept that this is legal. If it is legal then the only way to change it is through the legislature. I will keep researching it. I'd like to hear from any parents with a child in drug court anywhere in the state, and especially in Shelby Co., that this has happened to. Please email your story to me at

In the meantime all parents in Shelby Co. should be aware that this can, and probably will happen to you, if your child somehow winds up in juvenile court.

Update: I spoke with both mom and dad yesterday via phone and got more astonishing details that I want to share.

Mom is a school teacher in an inner city school. She works 10 hours a day. At home she and dad also have a set of two year old twins, one of which is autistic. Dad stays home during the day to watch the kids and has a night job. If dad loses his job then mom will have to leave her job in order to provide child care for her small children. If that happens they will lose their home.

When I talked to dad he told me the whole story about what happened in court. He said the Judge James Kramer was talking about what happens in drug court and what to expect and all of a sudden he said, "Now parents I expect you to be good role models for your children and to prove that you are a good role model I expect each of you to provide me with a urine sample before you leave today."

Dad said he felt like he had been run over by a truck. He said the public defender, who should have been representing him, kept coming over to him and saying, "This is a really great program and you should sign on." Said he must have come over to him 5 or 6 times trying to cajole him into submission. What he didn't do was explain all the consequences for a dirty urine, offer him any advice on his rights. No, nothing like that. That makes me wonder if the Public Defenders office in Shelby Co. is getting some kind of kick back somewhere.

Dad said all the other new parents in drug court that day were practically running over each other to get in line....raising their hands and volunteering to piss in a cup. He said one lady got overlooked and she jumped up and said..."Y'all forgot me. I want to be drug tested too!" (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little)

Dad said he told the probation officer that he had already peed and that he would be unable to leave a sample. He said the PO told him that he would be detained until he complied. When dad asked the PO what would happen if he flat refused he was told that the judge would put him in jail until he changed his mind.

Dad asked the PO what happens if a parent comes up dirty and the PO said, "The Judge will talk to you when you come back on Monday, will probably send you to treatment for marijuana addiction. If you fail another one you will go to jail." And he will obviously be placed in the adult drug court in Shelby Co. which is something like $2500 - $3000 a lick plus the cost of drug testing and probation officer fees.

Dad said the Judge told everyone that the part about not having alcohol in the home didn't mean that the parents couldn't go out to a bar. (Which would mean they would likely have to drive home after drinking. (Yay safety!)

Dad also told me that while enrolled in drug court that parents were not allowed to give their children medication, of any kind, even that prescribed by a physician, until the drug court team approved it. Not kidding. Even doctor prescribed medication has to be approved by these yahoos. There is a case where this judge put a parent in jail for 30 days because she allegedly gave her child something over the counter while the child was enrolled in drug court.

Dad said the PO stood behind him in the bathroom and WATCHED him pee in a cup.

Dad noted that there are no black families in juvenile drug court. I told him that's because drug courts don't believe black people have money so black kids just get sent to jail. I think we have a clear case of unequal access here.

Dad said he asked the judge what if they didn't want their son to go through drug court. He said the judge told him that his son would then have a trial by jury, but with ONLY the juvenile probation officers giving testimony so as not to jeopardize the sanctity of the information, that his son would be found guilty (how the hell does he know that would be the verdict?) and that he would be sent to juvenile detention and then through drug court anyway.

I exchanged emails with Peter Wilkinson of Rolling Stone Magazine yesterday. He has asked for an exclusive print interview and is lobbying his higher ups to get permission to come back to Alabama and cover this story.

This unconstitutional BS will not stand!

There is case precedent. Commentor sixstring found a similar case in Idaho and the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that drug testing parents violates the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Webster Alexander facing 41 years

It was 8 years ago this month when my friend Marc Emery first alerted me to the plight of then Alabama teenager Webster Alexander whose high school principal Ricky Nichols set him up by placing an undercover cop in the small town Lawrence County high school to pressure the kids into selling him weed for his FAKE cancer stricken grandmother. That's like the sickest shit ever when you think about it.

(Oh do do do read this link to Principal Ricky Nichols . Talk about sweet fucking irony and poetic justice! God it doesn't get any better than that :)

Webster was the unlucky kid to get caught in the snare. He was a first time offender. And they were saying he was going to get 26 years in prison for a few ounces of pot. 26 years for a high school kid. For weed!

Marc called me when that story came up on the news feed all upset and said, "Whatever we have to do, no matter how much it costs, we have to save this kid. You get in the car, I'll wire you some money and you drive to Moulton, Alabama and get to work." I had known Marc about 4 months at that point and other than writing some LTE's and, subsequently going to jail for doing so, this was the first real activist work I ever did.

I went to Moulton a day or two later after I had talked to the family and did a video interview with Webster and his dad. After that was released Rolling Stone called and said they wanted to interview the family and me and write about it for the magazine. I was floored. Some of the pictures from the Rolling Stone article are in the Ricky Nichols link above. I still have that issue. That RS article was BRUTAL to the town all around and most especially to the law enforcement, judge and asshole principal. Marc Emery sent one of his Cannabis Culture journalists down here to do an article on Webster's situation and my activism around it. Alabama media was all over it and it went nationwide.

Finally it came to sentencing day and, because of my efforts and the massive amount of media attention I was able to bring to the case, Webster received one year in jail...sort of. They did actually sentence him to 26 years, but suspended it and placed him on 10 years supervised probation. Within a week he was out on work release and basically only spending nights and weekends actually in jail.

But, as most of us know probation isn't set up to help people succeed. It is, in fact, designed to make people fail. Who in their right mind thinks a kid of 18 or 19 is going to make it through 10 years of pissing in a cup or not running afoul of the law in some other a speeding ticket for instance? Or a tail light out? Or the most ludicrous of all the "no tag light"? For that matter, what adult is going to make it through 10 years supervised probation? I mean, I don't care if it's a child molester. Those sick bastards can die in prison and I think they should. But a kid who was entrapped and pressured to sell weed to an undercover cop?

Webster wrote me once and thanked me for helping save him from 26 years in a state prison. We lost touch after that. A few months ago his wife contacted me on Facebook and let me know that he was doing well and that he is a father now with two small children he adores. Said he had done well on probation and that he had never forgotten me. I've never forgotten him either. I never will. His case is what set me in motion in Alabama. I was outraged. I still am.

Sadly, Webster, 8 years into his 10 years of probation, has been arrested again. A few days ago his sister contacted me on Facebook and told me that he had been arrested and was facing 15 additional years on top of the original 26, because his probation wasn't up on the first case, after he was arrested for having 3 xanax tablets in the wrong bottle. She asked if I could help. The answer, of course, is yes. I will do all I can.

That's 41 fucking years for a piss ant drug charge. 41 years.

I spoke with Webster's father tonight and he said that the police in the tiny Alabama town where they live have hounded and harassed Webster every time he set foot out the door. Said they got him fired from numerous jobs, harassed him walking down the street,harassed him riding his bicycle. In fact, on this latest charge he was riding his bike when the police got him. Every time they laid eyes on him they were fucking with him. I know that's true. I grew up in a tiny Alabama town where that's just the way things were. Once you were in the cops cross hairs they never fucking left you alone. That's why I left my home town as soon as possible. I wish Webster had been able to do the same.

Last week the judge in Webster's case signed an order for him to spend 1 year in a drug treatment facility. Problem is there are no open beds. I hope Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb reads this post. If she does then I would like her to know that her push for drug courts in this state is completely useless unless there are actual treatment beds and all. But there aren't.

The entire state of Alabama has only 246 treatment beds for women trying to recover from alcohol/drug addiction. I don't know the number for males. If Chief Justice Cobb truly wants to help people stay out of jail because they have a drug problem then she would include/push for funding for treatment facilities. You can't keep people out of jail if there is no where to go but jail. Even a pot smoker like me knows that.

And I'm not talking about these bogus 'treatment' places (like the one Webster has been signed off to go to) that demand huge sums of money from poor people in order to get in, promise to find them work and when they can't or the temp job they do find runs out they start harassing the family for money again. And when the money isn't produced they get kicked out and sent back to jail. Those places should be outlawed. If you can't provide treatment then change then laws so that people who use drugs, but do not harm others, are not criminals. And while you're at it make it a crime punishable by the death penalty for asshole principals to set up high school kids. That'd be real awesome!

Webster Alexander should not be facing 41 years in prison. His original sentence and probation were totally uncalled for. So, is this one. Hell, murderers and child rapists don't get sentences like this one. It's police and court action and the lack of testicular political fortitude to change these ass backwards laws, like this bullshit right here, that keep our prisons running at 195% capacity and costs Alabama taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. It has to stop. All it does is destroy lives and families. Nothing productive comes from enforcing these barbaric and antiquated laws against non-violent people.

If Webster were to serve the 41 years the ballpark cost at the current rate of $15,223 per prisoner per year would cost Alabama taxpayers $624,143...nearly 3 quarters of a million dollars.

I'll be headed to Moulton, AL again real soon. In the meantime please write a letter to the editor of the Moulton Advertiser expressing your outrage over this unacceptable treatment of Webster Alexander.

My Daughter is BRILLIANT!

Today was the Alabama Southern Regional Scholars Bowl competition in Reeltown, AL. For those of you who might not know Scholars Bowl is a Jeopardy-like competition for Jr. high through high school students. My daughter is on the team.

The competition today was six teams from schools in this area. Each team is made up of four students with however many alternates the team wants to have on hand. Bell's team was made up of 5 kids including her, so they only had one alternate. There are three series of ten questions where the kids buzz in to answer and one period where they do a worksheet to hand in. There were six rounds with four students from each school going head to head.

Bell's team has not practiced all year. Not one time.

Bell was in the first group from her school to go and after the first round it was decided that she would be on every round thereafter. :)

My daughter flat out dominated during all 6 rounds. She answered questions that I couldn't answer and probably about 95% of all questions answered for her team.

Her team came in second by only a few points and they are now headed to the state championship competition.

I'm so proud of her I could split. Gives a mama a magnificent feeling to see her child DOMINATE!

I am proud of the whole team....but especially proud of my Bell.

You Go Girl!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Absolute Genius!

From CNN

A former pharmaceutical sales rep starts a company that places advertisements in the bottom of the plastic bins you place your items into at the airport to go through the X-Ray machine.


Wonder if they would allow a Free Marc ad? I've already inquired about pricing.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Letters from Marc Emery #8

Dear Jodie,

The censorship of my mail here at D. Ray James is continuing to outrage me. So far I am aware of;

* 36 letters returned
* An 8 x 10 Christmas card (hand made)
* An electoral map of the Nov. 2 elections
* A US atlas seized
* 75 years of DC comics hardcover denied because its size constitutes a security risk. (it's 12x24x2 and $125)
*Over 100 books denied that have been sent to me
* Numerous magazines returned to sender

For me to receive any books of any kind at all I have to mail out an equivalent number. To receive 5 books I have to send out 5 books to somewhere. Currently I am mailing them to Loretta in Alabama because postal rates to send them withing the US are cheaper than to Canada.

US citizens in federal prisons do not have to experience this discrimination. Additionally US citizens in US federal prisons all have email access to up to 30 correspondents for hours a day. But not for Canadians in a US fed prison. Even the paltry 300 minutes a month of phone access - and there is no reason why D Ray James limits us to 300 minutes - is erratic as this facility can cancel phone access at any time as they did to me Dec. 22 - 27. Some Canadians here have not been able to make a call out for 13 days now, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 4, like Trevor Lubbers from Vancouver and the Canadians from Montreal, New Westminster, Vancouver, still have no phone access as the computer here which controls our phone access just mysteriously cancels our phone access. This happened exclusively to Canadians.

All newspaper clippings get taken out of my mail. Photocopies of newspaper articles get removed. Even a copy of an email sent to D Ray James protesting their tampering with my mail was removed from a letter from Catherine Leach to me! In none of these instances of refused letters, books returned (dozens) books denied me (about 100), Christmas cards rejected, newspaper clippings, was I given any notification as is required by D Ray James and BOP policy and procedure. Most importantly all this mail room behaviour violates Bureau of Prisons policy and procedure. But, the mail room, like everything else about this place, runs not on any established BOP policy but arbitrarily whims made up on the occasion. So, it's MADDENING!

I will consult with lawyer Kirk Tousaw when he visits next week about taking legal action against this place. It routinely violates my civil rights whether it's interference in every aspect of my mail, or in the blatant discrimination that goes on against Canadians in the US Federal prison system. The sign in the intake hall specifies that the US Federal prison system does not discriminate on the basis of national origin! My chart that has been published shows Canadians are to receive nothing here at D Ray James that an American inmate routinely receives at an American 'low security' federal prison - email, exercise equipment, courses and classes i8n skilled trades, word processors, proper reading library and law library, outdoor visitation areas...

When BC MLA Guy Gentner visited me for 4 hours on Sunday Jan. 2 I emphasized that these private prisons, this one run by GEO, which receives $2,400,000,000 from the US Federal govt. in 2010 for prison services; I emphasized that private prisons do not adhere to or operate under any fidelity to Bureau of Prisons policies and procedures: Secondly, the prisons are about warehousing humans using the least possible monetar6y expenditures. A huge percentage of money the taxpayer gives over to GEO goes right into the pockets of the shareholders and executives. Almost nothing is spent on services or rehabilitation for the inmates...unlike a government run US Federal prison.

After being moved from SeaTac FDC on Oct. 27 or thereabouts a full 70 days ago, my property (books, photographs, food, notes, batteries, book light etc..) still has not been delivered to me here at D Ray James. I am satisfied at least that word about these concentration camps for foreigners and Canadians handed over to the US by our compliant Canadian government are getting some small amount of attention. No Canadian should ever be extradited to the US while Canadians get shockingly less opportunities, facilities and access to communications as compared to US citizens in a US Federal prison.

Conrad Black wrote articulately about the prison he was at, Coleman FCI. Yet Coleman is the Hilton of prisons compared to here. Coleman had email, exercise equipment, outdoor visitation areas, extensive courses (Mr. Black taught creative writing)yet Mr. Black is not an American in an American only federal correctional institution.

Americans in Canadian federal prison are treated identical to Canadians in Canadian federal prison. If Americans are going to be putting Canadians in the ghetto facilities based on our nationality, our government should insist on parity; Canadians should have the same access to services that any Americans would get in a low security federal prison.

Compare Lompac FCI or Terminal Island FCI with D Ray James. All are considered low security yet the differences are staggering. Terminal Island has numerous skill trade courses, email, exercise equipment. Lompac has the same 1-2 man cells (unlike my 64 man dorm) outdoor visitation areas. In fact, I qualify to be in a minimum security camp, but because I am Canadian I am denied any opportunity to serve my sentence in a minimum security camp, which are used exclusively for US citizens. D Ray James is run like a medium-high security prison, even though all inmates here are non-violent offenders.

If anyone has suggestions I'd welcome them. Of course, there's little assurance I'll get your letter responses if people do write with their suggestions. I will be meet8ing with my Canadian lawyer and a Georgia lawyer from NORML, Richard Mallory Barnes in the next few weeks to explore my legal options; But this censorship and frugal access to communication in this private prison is frustrating. My treaty transfer paperwork is due in DC by Friday. Jan 21. Only 16 days away.

I need all Americans and Canadians to send letters on my behalf to the DOJ urging my transfer into the Canadian Correctional System. Getting US elected officials to write the DOJ recommending my transfer is especially valuable in aiding my successful transfer.

Trying to keep positive in the US Gulag,


PS. I cannot understand why Mr. Black, a non-US citizen was not put in one of these, shoddy, cut rate prisons for foreigners. Mr. Black, being a citizen of the UK I believe having given up his Canadian citizenship.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Judge John E. Rochester retires?

Judge John E. Rochester has retired from the bench due to ill health (I hear). I've been hearing that he would retire for the last two years. Rochester has no business being on the bench after what happened with his drug trafficking son.

For past coverage of the Rochester clan click here.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.