Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Snitches: The Government's Overreliance on Informants in the War on Drugs

In recent decades the United States has entered into multiple unconventional wars where it seems that victory will not be obtained until the enemy is eradicated.  One such war is the war on drugs.  It is unclear what a “win” in the war on drugs would look like, and the ambiguity leads to an ongoing fight, but the fight has become a dog eat dog battle of survival of the fittest.

The war on drugs began in the 1980’s as a response to the public opinion that Democrats were soft on crime.  To avoid this public perception before the 1986 election, Democrats came out strongly against drugs.  They introduced the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988.  Because both parties were anxious to appear strong on this issue, the legislation was passed quickly and without much scrutiny.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mental Health Laws After the Death of Kelly Thomas and the Isla Vista Massacre

File:Green ribbon.svgScott Thorpe, an individual suffering from schizophrenia, shot and killed Laura Wilcox at a mental healthclinic over a decade ago.  Shortly thereafter, a law passed in the State of California, named “Laura’s Law.”  It allowed for family members, mental health professionals, and officers to petition the court to order “assisted outpatient treatment” for those who have a severe mental disability.[1]  Laura’s Law is optional for counties to implement.  Until recently, only one county (Nevada County, CA) has the law in place.  After the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man beaten to death in a struggle with Fullerton police, Orange County also implemented the law.  On Tuesday, May 13, 2014, five Orange County supervisors voted unanimously to adopt Laura’s Law.  The law will go into effect in October 2014, and will apply only to severely mentally ill adults who have had two psychiatric hospitalizations or incarcerations in the past two years and who have engaged in violence or attempted violence over the last four years.  Los Angeles County also has a similar pilot project that was set to expire in 2013 but has recently been extended to 2017.[2]

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Police Worn Cameras: Technology Gift or Privacy Curse?

File:Lapel cameras (9816063276).jpgIn an era where virtually everyone has the capacity to record video, it comes as no surprise that some police forces have decided to equip officers with body-worn cameras to wear during traffic stops and investigations.  The use of technology raises many questions concerning privacy rights of both citizens and officers and the public perception of police officers while using cameras.  The effect still remains to be seen, but some interesting statistics have been offered in support of use by a new report studying the success of programs which implement police-worn camera devices.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Burrage v. United States and Punishment of Drug Overdose in the United States

It’s no secret how the United States government feels about drug crimes.  With one of the largest drug consuming populations in the world waging one of the longest wars on drugs, the United States government punishes drug dealers and users harshly for their respective contributions to the illicit business.  In order to deter the dealers and users from continuing to transact deals, the federal government enacted 21 U.S.C.A. § 841(b)(1)(C) in 2010 to increase sentencing minimums for dealers whose drugs caused a user to overdose.