Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Freedom fighters

Congrats to Paul Wright, publisher of Prison Legal News for being named Freedom Fighter of the month at High Times. A former prison inmate, Wright started an interprison publication that brought prisoner's issues to light and fought relentlessly against the establisment's attempts to silence him. Preston Peet kindly republishes the piece on drugwar.com.

While you're at Preston's place don't forget to scroll down the left sidebar to catch the latest news. Preston often catches items that others miss. For instance, this recent decision from a federal judge in Iowa ruling that taxpayers are inappropriatedly funding faithbased redemption programs in their prisons. Now, I don't have anything against the holy rollers proselytizing in prisons but they shouldn't be funded with federal money and here's the big problem.
The judge criticized the lack of real choice on the part of inmates who wanted a similar, nonsectarian option, and the fact that prisoners were offered a variety of special privileges and incentives to join InnerChange, such as better cells and special visitation rights. Mr. Pratt ordered Prison Fellowship Ministries, which runs the program, to repay the $1.5 million it received from the state and to terminate the program within 60 days.
They theoretically allow other faiths to enter the program but inmates report being made to feel unwelcome if they don't convert and I seem to remember a case where a Catholic inmate mandated into one of these type programs wasn't allowed to keep his rosary. There's a line between spreading the faith and indoctrinating in the name of a specific religion and these folks have crossed it.

While I was reading that, I also ran across this fascinating look inside the drug trade in Afghanistan in today's CSM. I had no idea how intimately the local police commanders were involved in it and the idea that 80% of the country's Interior Ministry are involved in the trade is much worse than I expected. I'm not so much surprised at the numbers though as I am that it's so openly acknowledged.

That's it's happening is no surprise at all. It's a natural outcome of drug prohibition. The lure of money in an unregulated black market will always be an incentive that overcomes ethics, especially in countries where annual average incomes are measured in four figures at best.


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