Civil Liberties News StoriesExcerpts of Key Civil Liberties News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of civil liberties news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
The problem of racial bias among police [has] been a concern of the FBI for at least a decade. 10 years ago ... the FBI warned of the potential consequences - including bias - of white supremacist groups infiltrating local and state law enforcement, indicating it was a significant threat to national security. In the 2006 bulletin, the FBI detailed the threat of white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police in order to disrupt investigations against fellow members and recruit other supremacists. The bulletin was released during a period of scandal for many law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including a neo-Nazi gang formed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Similar investigations revealed officers and entire agencies with hate group ties in Illinois, Ohio and Texas. Much of the bulletin has been redacted, but in it, the FBI ... warned of “ghost skins,” hate group members who don’t overtly display their beliefs. “At least one white supremacist group has reportedly encouraged ghost skins to seek positions in law enforcement for the capability of alerting skinhead crews of pending investigative action against them,” the report read. Neither the FBI nor state and local law enforcement agencies have established systems for vetting personnel for potential supremacist links. That task is left primarily to everyday citizens and nonprofit organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of few that tracks the growing number of hate groups in America.
White supremacists and other domestic extremists maintain an active presence in U.S. police departments and other law enforcement agencies. [FBI] policies have been crafted to take this infiltration into account. An October 2006 FBI internal intelligence assessment ... raised the alarm over white supremacist groups’ “historical” interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” In 2009 ... a Department of Homeland Security intelligence study, written in coordination with the FBI, warned of the “resurgence” of right-wing extremism. The report concluded that “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” The report caused an uproar. Faced with mounting criticism, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano disavowed the document. The agency’s unit investigating right-wing extremism was largely dismantled and the report’s lead investigator was pushed out. “They stopped doing intel on that, and that was that,” Heidi Beirich, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s tracking of extremist groups, told The Intercept. Daryl Johnson, who was the lead researcher on the DHS report ... says the problem has since gotten “a lot more troublesome.” Homeland Security has given up tracking right-wing domestic extremists. “It’s only the FBI now,” he said, adding that local police departments don’t seem to be doing anything to address the problem.
Using loopholes it has kept secret for years, the FBI can in certain circumstances bypass its own rules in order to send undercover agents or informants into political and religious organizations, as well as schools, clubs, and businesses. If the FBI had its way, the infiltration loopholes would still be secret. They are detailed in a mammoth document obtained by The Intercept, an uncensored version of ... the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG. If an undercover agent wants to pose as a university student and take classes, or if an FBI handler wants to tell an informant to attend religious services - two examples straight out of the rulebook - he or she must obtain a supervisor’s approval and attest both to the operation’s importance and to its compliance with constitutional safeguards. But all those rules go out the window if an agent decides the group is “illegitimate” or an informant spies on the group of his or her own accord. Civil rights groups ... worry that the FBI has made use of precisely these kinds of loopholes, silently undermining cherished freedoms enshrined after a dark chapter of FBI history: the COINTELPRO program in the 1950s and ’60s, when the FBI spied on, harassed, and tried to discredit leftists, civil rights leaders, and anti-war protestors. The exposure of COINTELPRO led to a famous Senate investigation and to institutional reform. The DIOG, despite being hundreds of pages of dense bureaucracy, actually documents a loosening of the standards enacted to rein in the FBI after COINTELPRO and other scandals ... after the 9/11 attacks.
Note: Read a detailed essay on the FBI's COINTELPRO program from the well-researched online book Lifting the Veil. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted. A documentary producer, a photojournalist, a live-streamer and a freelance reporter were each charged with the most serious level of offense under Washington DC’s law against rioting, after being caught up in the police action against demonstrators. The Guardian learned of their arrests after reporting on Monday that the journalists Evan Engel of Vocativ and Alex Rubinstein of RT America had also been arrested and charged with felonies while covering the same unrest. All six were arraigned in superior court on Saturday and released to await further hearings. “These charges are clearly inappropriate, and we are concerned that they could send a chilling message to journalists covering future protests,” said Carlos Lauría, the [Committee to Protect Journalists'] senior Americas program coordinator. The National Lawyers’ Guild accused Washington DC’s metropolitan police department of having “indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone” and said they unlawfully used teargas and other weapons. None of the arrest reports for the six journalists makes any specific allegations about what any of them are supposed to have done wrong.
Note: These outrageous charges come on the heels of similar tactics being used to silence reporters covering last October's Dakota Access Pipeline protests. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Young black men were again killed by police at a sharply higher rate than other Americans in 2016. Black males aged 15-34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers last year, according to data collected for The Counted, an effort by the Guardian to record every such death. They were also killed at four times the rate of young white men. Racial disparities persisted in 2016 even as the total number of deaths caused by police fell slightly. In all, 1,091 deaths were recorded for 2016, compared with 1,146 logged in 2015. Several 2015 deaths only came to light last year, suggesting the 2016 number may yet rise. The total is again more than twice the FBI’s annual number of “justifiable homicides” by police, counted in recent years under a voluntary system allowing police to opt out of submitting details of fatal incidents. Citing the Guardian findings, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) expressed renewed concern over Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for US attorney general. Sessions ... has been hostile to critics of police, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. The 2016 data showed a decline in the number of unarmed people killed by police, a central concern of protests across the country after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014. A total of 169 unarmed people were killed in 2016, compared with 234 in 2015.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Law Department again has been sanctioned for withholding records involving a fatal police shooting, marking the eighth time in recent years a federal judge has formally punished the city [of Chicago] for failing to turn over potential evidence in a police misconduct lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Joan Gottschall on Tuesday ruled that the city acted in "bad faith" when it ignored a court order and made little effort to provide documents to the lawyer for the family of 20-year-old Divonte Young, who was shot and killed by an officer in 2012. In a sharply worded 24-page order, the judge criticized the city for its approach to discovery, the legal process that allows the two sides in a lawsuit to uncover relevant facts. "The City's cavalier attitude toward the discovery process ... warrant findings of willfulness, fault and bad faith," Gottschall wrote. In imposing her punishment, Gottschall ... stripped the city of legal protections that would have allowed its lawyers to withhold some documents from the Young family's lawyer. A Tribune investigation last year that analyzed nearly 450 cases alleging police misconduct since Emanuel took office found that a federal judge had to order the city to turn over potential evidence in nearly 1 of every 5 cases. The issue came to a head in January 2016, when a federal judge sanctioned one city lawyer for intentionally concealing evidence and ... took the rare step of tossing out a jury verdict in favor of the city and ordering a new trial.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
For a shocking glimpse of what’s been happening in the name of criminal justice in America, look no further than a Justice Department report last week on police behavior in Louisiana. Officers there have routinely arrested hundreds of citizens annually without probable cause, strip-searching them and denying them contact with their family and lawyers for days - all in an unconstitutional attempt to force cooperation with detectives who finally admitted they were operating on a mere “hunch” or “feeling.” This wholesale violation of the Constitution’s protection against unlawful search and seizure ... was standard procedure. The report described as “staggering” the number of people who were “commonly detained for 72 hours or more” with no opportunity to contest their arrest, in what the police euphemistically termed “investigative holds.” The sheriff’s office in Evangeline, with a population of 33,578, initiated over 200 such arrest-and-grilling sessions between 2012 and 2014. In Ville Platte, which has 7,303 residents, the local police department used the practice more than 700 times during the same years. The residents faced demands for information, the report said, “under threat of continued wrongful incarceration,” resulting in what may have been false confessions and improper convictions. “Literally anyone in Evangeline Parish or Ville Platte could be arrested and placed ‘on hold’ at any time,” the report found.
A bipartisan campaign to reduce mass incarceration has led to enormous declines in new inmates from big cities, cutting America’s prison population for the first time since the 1970s. But large parts of rural and suburban America ... have gone the opposite direction. Prison admissions in counties with fewer than 100,000 people have risen even as crime has fallen. Just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties. The stark disparities in how counties punish crime show the limits of recent state and federal changes to reduce the number of inmates. Far from Washington and state capitals, county prosecutors and judges continue to wield great power over who goes to prison and for how long. And many of them have no interest in reducing the prison population. The divide does not appear to be driven by changes in crime, which fell in rural and urban areas at roughly equal rates. Cities have adopted a more lenient approach to drug offenses in particular, diverting many low-level drug offenders to probation or treatment rather than to jail. Those choices have started to reverse - if only modestly - longstanding racial disparities in American prisons, where blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at drastically higher rates than whites. But rural, mostly white and politically conservative counties have continued to send more drug offenders to prison.
Note: The war on drugs has been called a "trillion-dollar failure," and spending on jails outpaced spending on schools by three times over the last 30 years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
By far the most populous of the three states that strip lifelong voting rights from people with felony convictions, Florida is home to some 1.5 million residents who can never again cast a ballot unless pardoned by the state’s governor. Florida’s legions of disenfranchised voters are disproportionately Democrat-leaning minorities - including nearly a quarter of Florida’s black population - numbers that advocates say amount to a long-standing and often ignored civil rights catastrophe. This ... mass disenfranchisement could have changed the outcome of some particularly important elections. Recently, after the state’s ... governor clamped down on the ability of ex-felons to have their rights restored, Donald Trump won the crucial swing state by a margin less than a tenth the size of the state’s disenfranchised population, leading some to question the effect that felony disenfranchisement may have had on the size of Trump’s Electoral College win. National groups, including the Democratic Party, have shown little interest in placing real resources behind recent efforts to roll back the country’s most impactful voting restriction. Yet in recent weeks, even without any significant organizational backing, a coalition composed largely of disenfranchised Floridians quietly reached a new landmark in a long and laborious fight to overturn the state’s law. On Monday ... Florida’s high court announced it had set a March date to consider the proposal to allow a referendum on the 2018 ballot asking voters to roll back the state’s felony voting restriction.
What do you say to someone who spent years on death row for a murder DNA evidence later proved he didn't commit? It's a question that Utah legislators and law students were faced with last week when they met Ray Krone, an Arizona man who was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for a 1991 Phoenix barroom slaying only to be exonerated and freed after years of staring down his potential execution. Krone is the 100th death row inmate freed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 and Utah executed Gary Gilmore. He was in Utah last week, meeting with more than a dozen legislators on Wednesday ahead of another attempt by death-penalty opponents to repeal Utah's law on executions in the upcoming legislative session. Last legislative session, a bill to repeal the death penalty passed the Senate but was blocked in the House. Marina Lowe, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, said stories like Krone's, where the system got it wrong, were missing from the debate last year. "I want the public to see there are actually two sides of the justice system. It's not simply that everyone has done something wrong or they wouldn't have been arrested," Krone said. "To ignore the fact that people are being exonerated and to ignore the fact that our justice system is getting it wrong, to ignore the fact that police and prosecutors can perjure themselves - to ignore that fact puts us all at danger in our justice system if we are caught up in that."
Note: 100 innocent people who would have been executed have been exonerated. How can this happen? Can we trust our judicial system with all of its corruption to sentence people to death? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Given what we're seeing in the election's aftermath, photographer-filmmaker Lucian Read clearly picked a prescient title for his recent mini-doc series on inequality in the United States: America Divided, which ... took us to corners of a nation still hurting from the Great Recession. Read's latest short film, Mni Wiconi: The Standing at Standing Rock, turns a camera on the plight of Native Americans, a group that has been neglected and wronged perhaps more than any other in this nation. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota made national headlines for their protests against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline - which the tribe says interferes with its ancestral land and water rights. This 1,172-mile oil pipeline ... is 95 percent complete despite the lack of the official easements and permits needed to finish it. In addition to introducing key anti-pipeline figures, such as Standing Rock chairman Dave Archambault II and local landowner and activist LaDonna Allard, Read's nine-minute film is a ... sketch of the conflict's root causes, from poverty to broken treaties to the "militarization of the oil industry," as one character puts it. "People standing together is powerful," says Jodi Gilette, President Barack Obama's special assistant for Native American affairs and a Standing Rock tribal member, noting the outpouring of support from unrelated tribes.
Note: Don't miss this beautiful, informative 8-minute video on what's happening at Standing Rock at the link above. For more on this under-reported movement, see this Los Angeles Times article and this article in the UK's Guardian. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
I do my best to resist the thought that prison is a reflection of our society, but the comparisons are unavoidable. From the moment I crossed the threshold from freedom to incarceration because I was charged with, and a jury convicted me of, leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter, I needed no reminder that I was no longer an individual. Prison, with its “one size fits all” structure, is not set up to recognize a person’s worth; the emphasis is removal and categorization. Inmates are not people; we are our offenses. Considering the charges and conviction that brought me here, I’m not exactly sure to which category I belong. No matter. There is an overriding category to which I do belong, and it is this prison reality that I sadly “compare unto the world”: I’m not just an inmate, I’m a black inmate. Here, I am my skin color. Whenever, in my stubborn idealism, I refuse to acknowledge being racially categorized and question the submission to it, the other prisoners invariably respond, “Man, this is prison.” What I see in prison is sad, but what I’m seeing from prison is worse. During my time in the CIA it became clear, in the organization’s words and actions toward me, that they saw me not as an American who wanted to serve his country but as “a big black guy.” There is a black America, there is a white America, there are many Americas. The greatness and promise of this country lies in equality reinforced by our differences. When I am free, I don’t want to feel that I’m merely going from one prison to another.
Note: The above was written by Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent targeted for prosecution as part of the Obama Administration's "crack down on the press and whistle-blowers." Author James Risen tried to help Sterling expose CIA racism, and later wrote an unrelated book exposing some questionable government practices. Sterling was then sent to prison for what Risen wrote. Risen's latest book exposes major government corruption related to the war on terror.
Hundreds of activists gathered to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Thursday. Police with tanks and riot gear surrounded them and began making mass arrests. One officer on the loudspeaker warned the demonstrators not to shoot “bows and arrows”. For some Native American activists, the officer’s comment was the latest sign that a highly militarized police force has little understanding of indigenous culture. The notion that the criminal justice system is biased against Native American protesters came into sharp view hours later, when a jury in Portland, Oregon, issued a verdict of not guilty for white militia leaders who staged an armed occupation of federal land to protest government policies. The fact that protesters with guns were acquitted on the same day police arrested 141 “water protectors”, who have often relied on indigenous songs and prayers to convey their message, sparked a firestorm on social media. At the Standing Rock camps in North Dakota, where the fight against the $3.8bn oil pipeline is escalating ... Native Americans said the Oregon verdict was an infuriating and painful reminder that the law treats them differently – and that the odds are stacked against them in their ... battle to save their land. The ultra-conservative activists who seized the Malheur refuge were fighting against environmental restrictions aimed at protecting ... public lands. In North Dakota, the Native American-led movement is grounded in the idea that the land is sacred and must be preserved.
Note: For more on this under-reported movement, see this Los Angeles Times article and this article in the UK's Guardian. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, N.D., rallying against the Dakota Access oil pipeline have been calling for reinforcements since summertime. As of this week, about 800 people had come. But in the course of just a few days, more than 1.5 million people marked themselves present at the pipeline protest using Facebook - even though they weren’t actually there. A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that law enforcement agencies across the country use location tracking and social media data to identify activists. Protesters have reported phones turning on on their own, phone calls cutting out and live video streams being interrupted as evidence that they’re being spied on, said Jennifer Cook, the policy director for the ACLU of North Dakota. Law enforcement agencies ... said they are not relying on Facebook’s check-in system to track protesters. Last week, video of violent clashes between lines of police and protesters circulated online, showing demonstrators running from officers as 142 people were arrested. Most of them were charged with rioting and criminal trespassing. About 300 people have been arrested since the protests began over the summer. Tensions have intensified in recent weeks as the pipeline’s construction moves closer to a river crossing that activists view as a critical water source that they fear will be compromised by the oil main, which many Native American tribes have said treads on sacred land.
Note: For more on this under-reported movement, see this Los Angeles Times article and this article in the UK's Guardian. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
US journalist Amy Goodman is facing charges of participating in a "riot" after filming Native American-led protests over an oil pipeline in North Dakota. The Democracy Now! reporter said she would surrender to authorities on Monday in response to the charge. District Judge John Grinsteiner will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to support the riot charge. Ms Goodman filmed the crackdown on protesters by authorities last month. "I wasn't trespassing, I wasn't engaging in a riot, I was doing my job as a journalist by covering a violent attack on Native American protesters," Ms Goodman said. The charge relates to her Democracy Now! coverage of the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline on 3 September. Earlier this month US actress Shailene Woodley was arrested at a construction site for broadcasting the North Dakota protests on Facebook. The video by the Divergent star was viewed more than 2.4 million times on social media within hours of being posted. The Dakota Access oil pipeline project, which will cross four states, has drawn huge protests. Native Americans have halted its construction in North Dakota, saying it will desecrate sacred land and damage the environment.
Note: A judge later rejected the riot charge for Goodman, but the fact that she was even accused speaks volumes. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Two documentary film-makers are facing decades in prison for recording US oil pipeline protests, with serious felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press. The controversial prosecutions of Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel are moving forward after a judge in North Dakota rejected “riot” charges filed against Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman for her high-profile reporting at the Dakota Access pipeline protests. But authorities in other parts of North Dakota and in Washington state have continued to target other film-makers over their recent reporting on similar demonstrations. Schlosberg, a New York-based film-maker, is facing three felony conspiracy charges for filming protesters on 11 October at a TransCanada Keystone Pipeline site in Pembina County in North Dakota. The 36-year-old ... could face 45 years in prison. In Goodman’s case, a judge forced prosecutors to drop a serious “riot” charge. But prosecutors and sheriff’s officials said they may continue to pursue other charges against the critically acclaimed journalist. In Schlosberg’s charges, North Dakota prosecutors have alleged that she was part of a conspiracy, claiming she traveled with protesters “with the objective of diverting the flow of oil”. “I was surprised at the conspiracy charges. I never thought that would ever happen,” her attorney Robert Woods told the Guardian. “All she was doing was her job of being a journalist and covering the story.”
An alleged accomplice in the Sept. 11 terror attacks is to undergo surgery this week for decade-old damage from his “sodomy” in CIA custody, his attorney says. Defense attorney Walter Ruiz, a Navy Reserve officer, disclosed the upcoming surgery for his client, Mustafa al Hawsawi, 48, on the eve of pretrial hearings Tuesday in the case that accuses the Saudi Arabian Hawsawi and four other men of orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Ruiz said a case prosecutor informed him of the procedure over the weekend. Defense lawyers have been litigating over conditions at the remote prison and, in the case of their client, have specifically sought medical intervention to treat a rectal prolapse that has caused Hawsawi to bleed for more than a decade. The disclosure comes days after The New York Times published a detailed account of former CIA and Guantánamo captives grappling with the aftereffects of torture. Hawsawi was denied a request to have a member of his legal team on standby near the surgery. He has sat gingerly on a pillow at the war court since his first appearance in 2008. But the reason was not publicly known until release of a portion of the so-called Senate Torture Report on the CIA program ... which described agents using quasi-medical techniques called “rectal rehydration” and “rectal re-feeding.” Former CIA captives like Hawsawi are segregated in a clandestine lockup called Camp 7 that has been described ... as having its own medical facility, the capabilities of which are not known.
Note: For more along these lines, see the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture". For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
The poster child of the American torture program sits in a Guantanamo Bay prison cell, where many U.S. officials hope he will simply be forgotten. Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, known to the world as Abu Zubaydah ... was the “guinea pig” of the CIA torture program. He was the first prisoner sent to a secret CIA “black site,” the first to have his interrogation “enhanced ” and the only prisoner subjected to all of the CIA’s approved techniques, as well as many that were not authorized. He is the man for whom the George W. Bush administration wrote the infamous torture memo in the summer of 2002. Senior officials thought he had been personally involved in every major al-Qaeda operation, including 9/11. Today, the United States acknowledges that assessment was, to put it graciously, overblown. His extended torture provided no actionable intelligence about al-Qaeda’s plans. He has never been charged with a violation of U.S. law, military or civilian, and apparently never will be formally charged. Instead, he languishes at Guantanamo. After years in secret prisons around the world, he remains incommunicado, with no prospect of trial. Who is Zubaydah, really? Public understanding about Zubaydah remains remarkably controlled and superficial. In connection with Zubaydah’s stalled case seeking federal court review of his detention, the government has recently agreed to clear for public release a few of the letters he has written to us. These brief letters [are] published here for the first time.
Note: The use of humans as guinea pigs in government, military, and medical experiments has a long history. For more along these lines, see the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture". For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
Legal papers filed by the New York police department reveal that the department sent its own undercover officers to protests led by Black Lives Matter after the death of Eric Garner. The NYPD documents also show that it collected multimedia records about the protests. The revelations come from the same records request that led to the Intercept’s release of documents last summer showing that MTA and Metro-North transit police had regularly spied on Black Lives Matter protesters in and around Grand Central, deploying plainclothes officers to monitor demonstrations, track their movements, and share photos of activists. The NYPD’s newly revealed operations are potential constitutional violations. “The fear and disarming effect caused by undercovers being assigned to what were and continue to be extraordinarily peaceful protests is disturbing,” said MJ Williams, one of the attorneys involved in the records request. “As someone who was present at the protests, it’s disturbing to know the NYPD may have a file on me, ready to be used or to prevent me from getting a job simply because I’ve been active in some political capacity.” The MTA and Metro-North disclosures from last summer revealed that transit police tracked activists’ locations and shared images of some activists. If similar multimedia images are being held by the NYPD, they could be a violation of the NYPD’s protest monitoring rules ... which are supposed to prevent the department from deploying undercovers or collecting images of protesters solely to keep tabs on their political activity.
On any given day in the United States, at least 137,000 people sit behind bars on simple drug-possession charges, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch. Nearly two-thirds of them are in local jails. The report says that most of these jailed inmates have not been convicted of any crime: They're sitting in a cell, awaiting a day in court, an appearance that may be months or even years off, because they can't afford to post bail. "It's been 45 years since the war on drugs was declared, and it hasn't been a success," lead author Tess Borden of Human Rights Watch said in an interview. "Rates of drug use are not down. Drug dependency has not stopped. Every 25 seconds, we're arresting someone for drug use." Federal figures on drug arrests and drug use over the past three decades tell the story. Drug-possession arrests skyrocketed, from fewer than 200 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1979 to more than 500 in the mid-2000s. The drug-possession rate has since fallen slightly ... hovering near 400 arrests per 100,000 people. Police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined. The report finds that the laws are enforced unequally, too. Over their lifetimes, black and white Americans use illicit drugs at similar rates. But black adults were more than 2˝ times as likely to be arrested for drug possession. The report calls for decriminalizing the personal use and possession of drugs, treating it as a public-health matter.
Note: This latest report adds to the evidence that the war on drugs is a trillion dollar failure. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in policing and in the prison system.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.