Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Three Strikes, Prison Muster and RealCostofPrisons.org

Three Strikes, Prison Muster and RealCostofPrisons.org



The role of drug policy in elevating both real and imagined social dysfunction is behind the clamoring for 'sensible sentencing'. This is attributable to the enforcement of USA centric United Nations International Conventions that have been highly critisised by its own Human Rights Rapporteur and other NGO's in Vienna.

Vienna International Centre (Image via Wikipedia



The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Professor Manfred Nowak, has called on UN member states to adopt a rights based approach to drug policies in his forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council. Recognising that the human rights and drug policy regimes in the UN have 'evolved practically detached' from each other, Prof Nowak's report submitted for the 10th session of the Council draws the attention of members states to the issues of 'drug users in the context of the criminal justice system and situations resulting from restricted access to drugs for palliative care.'




Last weeks presentations to the UN Committee on Narcotic Drugs [CND] put good measure to the massive scale of the problem and highlighted the exclusion of harm reduction and cost/benefit analysis of this crucial justice policy.
"Instead, they produced a declaration that is not only weak - it actually undermines fundamental health and human rights obligations." - Prof. Gerry Stimson, executive director of the International Harm Reduction Association.

Lip service to policy being 'underpinned by health' was highlighted by Assoc. Minister of Health, Hon Peter Dunne telling the review that NZ continues to have an 'abstinance' focus, yet he failed to tell them we legally regulated psychoactive recreational drug use on the 6th of Nov. last year.

New Zealand, instead ratified yet again the legacy of US "justice" Puritanism.

The 1973 NY Gov. Rockefeller Drug Laws, President Reagan's 1980's militarisation of Police coupled to "Just Saying No" , CA Gov. Pete Wilson's 1994 "Three Strikes", NY Gov. Guliani's 'Broken Windows' and the myth of 'crack babies' and other stories under Bush/Clinton has lead to record incarceration rates and displaced resources where 'prison building' is marketed as job creation and of social benefit.

Yet drugs are cheaper and more available everywhere.? Perhaps the academics ARE right, the policy IS both counterproductive AND deficient.?

The problem within the current 'justice dialog' is politicised white privilege on top of intersectoral governance failure.

See this creative 'comic' style presentation by "the Real Cost of Prisons Project" (courtesy of Families Against Mandatory Minimums) at

W. Churchill, before he was ever famous, said 'we will be judged as a civilisation by how we treat those who have erred against us.'

New Zealand has a unique position with the broad terms of reference for the Law Commission drug policy review. It may yet yield best practice harm reduction in a rights, and thus responsibilities context. With Cannabis identified as the elephant in the room, and the NZ law already in place to restrict and regulate for adult use, and much of the justice 'costs and consequences' will disappear.
Imagine, the public disbelief if we were to read, "We are closing three prisons, we just don't have the muster to warrant keeping them".

Blair Anderson

Social Ecologist 'at large'
http://mildgreens.blogspot.com
http://efsdp.org

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219


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