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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Good quote. Makes a lot of sense although i’d note we can’t stop rape, murder, gangs and assault in prison but that doesn’t mean we should legalize them.Report

    • Avatar Sam MacDonald in reply to greginak
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      says:

      My response is the same as greginak’s. I consider myself a pretty hard core legalizer. But… they rape people in prison, too. That’s hardly a reason to throw your hands up and legalize rape.Report

  2. Avatar Pat Cahalan
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    says:

    From a security process standpoint, the difference between “rape” and “drugs” is that the drugs need to come from outside the prison, thus prohibition of the second is somewhat more complicated than the first.

    I think the point, “you can’t keep drugs outside of ‘secure’ facility, so how do you expect to keep them out of the rest of society”, is a fairly reasonable point to make.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Pat Cahalan
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      says:

      Exactly. I’d also point out that we do not pretend to be literally fighting a “War” on rape. Indeed, if we treated drug interdiction in the same way as we treat rape or any other violent crime, we’d have to give up treating drug crimes as part of a “War.”

      One does not need to jump from the conclusion that the “War on Drugs is unwinnable” to “all – or even any – drugs must be legalized.”Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        > One does not need to jump from the conclusion that
        > the “War on Drugs is unwinnable” to “all – or even
        > any – drugs must be legalized.”

        ‘Struth.

        On the other hand, it does indicate that we ought to revisit what it is we’re calling the “War on Drugs” and define what, if any, are reasonable end goals of the activity.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Pat Cahalan
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      says:

      I don’t disagree, its a reasonable point just a bit overstated. Certainly the entire use of the term/idea “War” inhibits any sort of constructive thought.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to greginak
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        says:

        This (that the use of the term/idea “War” inhibits any sort of constructive thought), I would suggest, is not unintentional.

        I don’t think Massie’s point is overstated at all; it just seems that way because of the presumption that any call to end the War on Drugs is a call for full legalization of drugs. And, sure, most who state that they are opposed to the War on Drugs are in fact in favor of legalization of some sort or another (whether it be full legalization or legalization of just marijuana). But this needn’t be the case, and in any event, even the most radical proponent of legalization is entitled to seek a much more limited end of just ending the notion of a “War” on drugs.

        Calls to end the “War” on drugs are, absent an explicit call for legalization, best construed as simply a demand that drug law enforcement be a relatively low enforcement priority.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mark Thompson
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          says:

          In general, it’s unwise to fight wars one knows are unwinnable. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other, less destructive, means of achieving at least some of the goals of the War.

          Fighting unwinnable wars has a tendency to leave you in a worse position than you started (see Hussein, Saddam), even if you make some short term initial gains.

          Whatever my objections to many/most anti-smoking measures, we haven’t declared a War on Smoking (at least not in any meaningful sense of the word “War”). I think we can safely say that those anti-smoking measures have had far more success than the War on Drugs. So far as I can tell, teenagers (who are really the group we’re most concerned with I assume) at this point are as or more likely to use an illegal drug of some sort than they are to be a smoker.

          That doesn’t have to mean “hey, make everything just as legal as smoking is,” but the point is that there’s really no evidence that trying to restrict something by treating it as a “War” is any more effective than other forms of restriction that have much more tolerable costs.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Mark Thompson
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            says:

            On the subject of smoking I have a feeling that we’ve passed a population inflection point where the social feedback loops that made smoking so prevalent have begun to cycle in reverse.
            For instance; to non smokers a person who smokes has a very distinctive odor. Without very careful personal hygene they reek of smoke and even with a lot of effort that scent is on the skin, hair and breath. When smoking was common this isn’t a big deal but as the smoking populace declines smokers are running into more people wrinkling their noses at the atmosphere they maintain.Report

  3. Avatar Scott
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    says:

    Mark:

    We can keep drugs out of prisons, we just choose not to take the propeor steps to do so.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott
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      says:

      We could have made prohibition work too, if only the country didn’t give up on it.Report

    • Avatar Simon K in reply to Scott
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      says:

      Really? What steps?Report

      • Avatar The Fool in reply to Simon K
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        says:

        Summary execution. Eventually we’d run out of prisoners.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Simon K
        Ignored
        says:

        Easy, first no personal contact between prisoners and visitors, search the guards, and all mail to prisoners would be photocopied with the prisoner getting the copy.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott
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          says:

          I bet you $5 that if you had a layout of a prison, a list of all the personnel who enter and exit on a daily basis, and you devised a search algorithm for each one of those people that would supposedly find contraband, I could come up with a counterexample in less than 60 seconds.

          For starters, you can’t do full body cavity searches on the guards. Nobody’s taking the job with that as a requirement (also, if I can suborn a guard, I can suborn somebody who has the job of searching the guards, tah-dah!). And if contraband is worth a couple thousand dollars in the joint, somebody is going to shove that contraband up their ass for that couple thousand dollars.

          You also can’t exhaustively search every item that enters a prison, it’s cost-prohibitive. So even if I can’t smuggle drugs in on people (which, I bet I could), I can still get it inside some other way.Report

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