Some data on simple possession raps for three of my Readers

December 21, 2012

This is from a bit by David Frum:


No Responses Yet to “Some data on simple possession raps for three of my Readers”

  1. becca Says:

    Hmm. Isn’t that like saying “of the people executed by the state, the percent of people who were later proven to be innocent using DNA evidence is very low!”. Or, heck, “of the kids who died via gunshot, the percent who were murdered in school shootings is very low!”


  2. ALDHgal Says:



  3. miko Says:

    Are these separate categories? Or is each bar a subset of the bar to the left of it? Because that’s not what bar charts are for.

    Also, what Becca said. Is there independent sampling of “people carrying some weed” and “people carrying some weed while committing another, worse crime”? There is no way to compare these in terms of judicial outcome.


  4. DrugMonkey Says:

    Not really becca, no. It addresses the frequent insinuation and occasional direct claim that the entire populationnod people in prison with marijuana as a charge are there for holding one joint.


  5. becca Says:

    DM- I grant you that that as a direct claim, it’s foolishness incarnate. As an “insinuation”- well, just be sure the person is actually trying to insinuate what you claim they are. You do like your #FWDAOTI.

    My point is that if I have no problem with people using the argument “Sandy Hill THUS gun control”; I don’t see why I should have a problem with the argument “people rotting in prison THUS decriminalize marijuana”. Not everyone bases their opinions on purely utilitarian calculations, in which the frequencies of collateral damage is weighed against the frequencies of targets hit.

    For example, I find even a single innocent person put to death by the state to be a murder that each of has blood on our hands for. I will not tolerate any death penalty policy that allows even a single innocent person to be slaughtered, even at the cost of the happiness of victim’s families or notions of justice that could be served by the many more guilty people put to death. Whether it’s 1 individual or 1 million innocents the state murders, I’m not happy with the policy. It still matters how many are killed, because some people are trying to make a utilitarian calculation. But it’s irrelevant to my stance on the policy.


  6. DrugMonkey Says:

    Sure, becca. But you are an absolutist nutter. Can you not imagine folks who have a more nuanced view on marijuana arrests?

    as far as insinuation goes, I was trying to be somewhat polite and inclusive. fact of the matter is, that people believe that they have a handle on the relative numbers of people who are in prison “for marijuana”. Not only that, they have a stance that is informed, one way or another, by their concept of the relative population in prison. The didactic dichotomy is clear. The poor widdle otherwise law abiding, contributing, upstanding member of society (probably white) who has been thrown in the hole for years for, quite literally, holding one joint on the one hand. On the other, the multifelonious gangster kingpin (probably black or latino) who has been caught red handed, at last, finally, with a truckload of weed in a shootout with the authorities that mowed down 5 cops and six standers-by, but….alas, they can’t get him on the shootings cause they can’t prove he was pulling the trigger .

    Somewhere along that axis, people are going to put down their markers for “should be in prison” and “should not”. It follows quite naturally that their global stance on marijuana legalization depends on who they think is in prison on a marijuana beef.

    Now, whether they are in touch with their internal thought process, are honest about their reasons or about what they would decide on a theoretical jury…..that makes no difference to me. What makes a difference is that the information should be known. Lead a horse to water….


  7. Well, even if you think Mr. Shooty Weed Truckload should be in prison, history tells us the way we got rid of his bootlegger counterparts wasn’t jailing more of them or having longer sentences but by putting him out of business by allowing less shooty legal companies handle his product…


  8. drugmonkey Says:

    Actually we got Capone on taxes JB.


  9. True. But taking down individual bootleggers didn’t really solve the problem, any more than the War on Drugs is solved by capturing the latest cartel leader.


  10. becca Says:

    On the death penalty, I am an absolutist. On marijuana, I made no indication as to what my policy views are; merely that I can respect a particular argument made by absolutists on the matters of both gun control and marijuana legalization.

    Now, as far as the race/perception angle impacting who we imagine that tiny proportion in jail for possession to be- if you think driving while black is bad, try smoking while black. Seriously, I’d wager almost anything you like that a disproportionate proportion of that tiny number in jail for just possession of marijuana are brown/black.

    Also, if they can’t get the gangster on tax evasion, he should walk.


  11. Isabel Says:

    “Can you not imagine folks who have a more nuanced view on marijuana arrests?”

    But you posted about people in prison. Specifically in state prisons, and you posted a confusing figure.

    That the majority of the hundreds of thousands of Americans arrested for cannabis each year are arrested for possession of relatively small amounts (for personal consumption) is the only claim I ever made here. If you are aiming this obnoxious post at me, again you are spreading outright lies.

    And no, I never mentioned the racism angle, no not once. Never. I thank DM and becca for enlightening me on this issue.


  12. Alex Says:

    It looks to me like a lot of people in prison for drug offenses have also done other things. Well, we should probably punish those other things!

    As to Capone, here’s what I know about the Mafia: I know that when booze was illegal my Calabrese immigrant ancestors were harassed by people who said “We are going to be storing stuff in your basement, and you are going to keep your mouth shut, capisce?” When booze was legalized, suddenly those guys lost a lot of money and power, and they no longer had much reason to harass my family. Ignoring the evils of the underground markets created by prohibition is pure white* privilege.

    The problem with crime lords is that as long as there are illegal vices they will find ways to make money. Booze was illegal, so they sold it. Then booze was legalized, so they went into gambling. Eventually gambling went more-or-less legit, so the Mafia moves drugs, and engages in extortion and rigging of contracts. If we legalized drugs and prostitution, they’d have to rely on extortion and contract rigging, which is still a good business but not as good as their other businesses. They’d be weak. Imagine a world where the Taliban can’t make any money off opium.

    *Southern Italians weren’t always considered white. Even in the 1970’s my mother encountered an instance of housing discrimination. I’m only 1/4 Italian, so I have neither the last name nor the complexion. My grandfather, however, is pretty brown for a “white” man. I sometimes wonder what people named Tancredo and Arpaio would say if they saw him…


  13. Alex Says:

    BTW, are injuries due to violence a public health problem? (ER doctors would probably say yes.) What about the mental health effects of living in a violent neighborhood? If so, then I submit that the physical and psychological injuries suffered as a result of black market violence need to be weighed in any public health comparison of prohibition vs. legalization.


  14. […] “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Except in Britain. Some data on simple possession raps for three of my Readers What we did — and didn’t — learn from education research in 2012 Menace to Solvency (disaster […]


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