The Shotgun Blog
Monday, August 02, 2010
Conrad Black... libertarian?
Conrad Black is finally out of a U.S. prison. His time there appears to have made him a lot less conservative, and a lot more libertarian. At least when it comes to the war on drugs, and to incarceration:
I saw at close range the failure of the U.S. War on Drugs, with absurd sentences, (including 20 years for marijuana offences, although 42% of Americans have used marijuana and it is the greatest cash crop in California.) A trillion dollars have been spent, a million easily replaceable small fry are in prison, and the targeted substances are more available and of better quality than ever, while producing countries such as Colombia and Mexico are in a state of civil war.
And I had the opportunity to see why the United States has six to twelve times as many incarcerated people as other prosperous democracies, (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom), how the prison industry grew, and successfully sought more prisoners, longer sentences, and maximal possibilities of probation violations and a swift return to custody.
Before I got into the maw of the U.S. legal system, I did not realize the country has 47 million people with a criminal record, (most for relatively trivial offenses,) or that prosecutors won more than 90% of their cases. There, at Coleman, I had seen the courage of self-help, the pathos of broken men, the drawn faces of the hopeless, the glazed expression of the heavily medicated, (90% of Americans judged to require confinement for psychiatric reasons are in the prison system), and the nonchalance of those who find prison a comfortable welfare system compared to the skid row that was their former milieu. America’s 2.4 million prisoners, and millions more awaiting trial or on supervised release, are an ostracized, voiceless legion of the walking dead; they are no one’s constituency.
Read the rest of his article entitled, "My Prison Education."
I shall ignore the attempt to pigeonhole Lord Black. Rather than trying to place a label on him, why not recognise that he correctly has the ability to revise his views and opinions in light of new information. That is a plus.
He has seen first hand the true face of the American "justice" system and its prison system and it is not a pretty sight. I am not sure we have anything about which we can feel superior. Many of our homeless should be in treatment centres instead of turned out on the streets. We also have plenty of people incarcerated for victimless crimes.
As for the "war on drugs" it is an approach that will never work, just as the "war on poverty" or any of our "wars" to solve social problems. The more you push against and focus on anything, the more you will get of the same.
Posted by: Alain | 2010-08-02 11:08:03 AM
Alain is correct , i agree with him. Id wish every police offier, lawyer and judge in canada would read this essay, its time to end the insanity.
Posted by: don b | 2010-08-02 11:13:08 AM
'I'd wish every police officer, lawyer and judge would read this essay, its time to end the insanity.'
And most sane people would agree with you don b.
However, our current Minority Gov't, inder the leadership of Stephen Harper seeks to emulate the failed USA prison system.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, for profit USA style prison systms etc. This is just part of the Harper/CRAP plan for Canada.
The War on Some Drugs.
Never worked in the USA, won't work here either.
'I get high with a little help from my friends.'
Posted by: jeff franklin | 2010-08-02 12:27:47 PM
Perhaps this is the solution for L&O conservative types. Throw them in jail and hope they smarten up ;)
Posted by: Charles | 2010-08-02 12:34:04 PM
So explain to us, Jeff, when the Liberals did not do the same when in power with a majority. The fact is they did not which means it has nothing to do with the name of the political party nor of the leader. Like it or not, the USA pays the piper when it comes to Canada. That is reality, so try bashing our PM for something real.
Posted by: Alain | 2010-08-02 1:48:54 PM
The Majority Liberals, under Chretien, had plans to de-criminalize small amounts of Cannabis that would have resulted in the 'offender' receiving NO criminal record.
Our current Minority Leader has stated that:
'Drug users belong in jail or re-hab.'
Our current Minority Leader has committed to spending @ 10 Billion $$ imprisoning non violent Canadians, mostly who choose to use Cannabis.
A much Safer Drug than either Alcohol and or Tobacco.
'the USA pays the piper',...
Agreed. The USA is moving towards Cannabis Legalization. The Novemeber 2010 California State Ballot re. Cannabis Legalization outcome should be interesting
Harper and his band of evangelical Rapture extremists will have no choice but to follow suit.
'Try bashing our PM for something real.'
But he's just soo easy to bash. C'mon Alain.
Do you believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy?
Stephen Harper believes that God/ Jesus is going to come to earth and battle Lucifer whilst Harper and his ilk are lifted up to heaven for the Rapture.
Anyone who honestly believes in that isn't fit to lead a country. Thankfully, the Majority of Canadians have seen through Harper's/CRAP Snake Oil Sales shtick and will leave him and his bretheren to eternally dangle in the Purgatory of a Minority Wilderness.
'I get high with a little help from my friends.'
Posted by: jeff franklin | 2010-08-02 2:53:03 PM
Jeff- you're saying that a Christian is '...isn't fit to lead a country.".
Naturally you feel the exact same way about any religious follower then, yes?
If the PM followed Islam, he still wouldn't be a fit leader, correct?
Posted by: LP Sullivan | 2010-08-02 3:02:08 PM
I'm not aware 'of most Christians' espousing Mr. Harpers extreme evangelical views.
Granted, extreme evangelical viewpoints are not unique to Christians.
Former USA President Jimmy Carter seems like a 'Christian' kinda guy but managed to leave his personal religous convictions at the 'door' when running the country.
Separation of Church and State. Talked about by the USA Founding Fathers.
Be nice if the current crop of leaders would practice it.
'I get high with a little help from my friends.'
Posted by: jeff franklin | 2010-08-02 3:39:37 PM
Jeff, you avoided my question. Perhaps that in itself is your answer.
This isn't the USA and Harper doesn't 'espouse' Christian dogma.
That's 0-for-2 with one 'no answer.'
Posted by: LP Sullivan | 2010-08-02 6:13:41 PM
Excuse me Jeff, the fact remains that the Liberals did not act differently. As for their so-called plans and promises, I clearly recall the promise to eliminate the GST if elected, and we all know that it was just one more Liberal lie. Canada is not independent of the USA and as long as that is fact you will not see drugs being decriminalised without the Americans' consent. So please stick to facts instead of all the "what ifs". It will probably come as a shock to you that Chretien is also Christian, which only proves that religion is not the issue.
Posted by: Alain | 2010-08-02 8:37:19 PM
Gee, Charles what horrible law and order conservatives you describe! You mean the type that think that murderers like Paul Bernardo, the psycho bus murderer in Manitoba, and the serial killer "Pig Farm" guy in BC should hang for their crimes! You mean those same law and order types who believe that if you rape someone that the penalty should either be death or life with no possibility of parole. Or how about those horrible conservatives that believe that if you use a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime that 10 years should be tacked on to your sentence(25 if the gun goes off during the commission of the crime)? Also, got to be careful of the same law and order conservatives who want to implement 3 strike legislation like in New Zealand and the United States. You know the 3 strike legislation that says the third conviction for a violent offence means a life sentence with no hope of parole! As for the psychiatric patients in jails, I would tell you to blame liberal do-gooders whose so-called "reforms" made it harder for relatives to commit the mentally disturbed to mental institutions(read up on Geraldo Rivera and how his reporting of one abusive mental asylum led to the current situation where it is far harder to commit disturbed individuals). You want to debate the drug war as ineffective fine. However, let me ask you what would you do to protect the average law-abiding citizens from murderers, rapists, and thiefs? If your answer is arm everyone fine(but most people probably won't buy guns). So, what else is your crime policy? Or do you have no problem with our greyhound killer friend walking around unfenced areas with a supposed escort? Do you support the death penalty for Paul Bernardo or do support the current system where his victims' families will pay taxes to support this killer for the rest of his life? Do you fear tougher sentencing because you think it strengthens the state? Fine, but then have the balls to tell the victims' families that these killers can't be too harshly punished because it might strengthen the grip of the state. Then, you can tell them that by accepting a light sentence for those who raped and murderered their family members that they are almost as enlightened as you! Just don't be surprised if these people spit in your face. Until you have lost a family member to a criminal then you don't know what you are talking about. There is nothing that pisses us more than when when we hear bleeding heart types who try to 1.) excuse the criminal's behavior and 2.) try to get the weakest sentence possible. The libertarian movement has a lot of valid points but it will never get the votes of many of us until it proves that it will crack the whip on violent criminals! Otherwise, you are no better than the Liberal Party and the pro-criminal justice system that they have established in Canada over the last 60 years!
Posted by: Arch | 2010-08-02 11:07:28 PM
Calm down, take a valium. Have you ever heard of a strawman? Because your entire comment is ridiculous. You've assumed way too much. To answer your question: yes I would support very tough sentences for violent criminals (much tougher than they are now). I have not made up my mind about capital punishment as of yet But I do not support laws just because they exist as so many on this board seem to.
Posted by: Charles | 2010-08-03 5:33:49 AM
I wish lord Black would come back to Canada and lead the conservative party, the left would go ballistic"the guys a convicted criminal" they would say, as if there big fans of the U S justice system.
Posted by: don b | 2010-08-03 1:17:32 PM
Black is right. The justice system in America is a complete joke. Just last week some poor guy was given 35 years for stealing a pair of sweat pants. They said he had an intensive criminal record BUT when you look at the record most of his offences were minor including tresspassing,possesion of marijuana, driving without a licence, driving his mom`s car without permission. etc.
Posted by: rastapastaman | 2010-08-03 3:49:49 PM
"Former USA President Jimmy Carter seems like a 'Christian' kinda guy but managed to leave his personal religious convictions at the 'door' when running the country." - Posted by: jeff franklin | 2010-08-02 3:39:37 PM
Pres. Jimmy Carter and Jerry Brown, former and current candidate hoping to repeat the Governor gig of California both supported Jim Jones of Kool Aid in Guyana fame. I'm not saying they drank it but they helped him buy (and sell?) it.
Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-08-03 5:19:13 PM
If my choice is between the American justice system and the Canadian justice system then I'll take the American one any day. I'd rather have a justice system that throws the book at a criminal rather than the Canadian system which coddles them. If the Canadian justice system was anymore sensitive to criminals, our prisons would be called daycare! In Sweden, no sentence can be longer than 21 years. Murderers are often out in under 12 years. Rapists are out in less than 6. This is the type of system that left-wing judges(NDP, BLoc, and Liberal sympathizers) are pushing Canada into!
Posted by: Jacko | 2010-08-03 9:47:57 PM
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