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In my previous post on this subject of ending drug violence, I talked about how black markets and the violent crime that flows from them are created by government prohibition .  This is what prohibition of any substance or material, causes.  If the federal government made drinking water illegal tomorrow, black markets and criminals that manipulate them would crop up overnight.  If milk – yes, milk, were for some reason made illegal, there would be criminals dealing milk – complete with controlling territories to distribute it.  Violent crime would be created, complete with gangs and turf wars.  Police would battle these gangs and murders and mayhem would follow.  Raids would be conducted, arrests would be made, defendants would be prosecuted, billions of dollars would be spent – and the crime bosses that controlled the production and distribution of water or milk would never be defeated.

I know may people just won’t believe this.  They think the best thing we can do, is just keep fighting and prosecuting Massachusetts drug crimes, and drug crimes all across the country.  My response is based on three different qualification levels:  1) As a Massachusetts drug crimes lawyer; 2) As someone who has a degree in Economics, and 3) As someone who is a student of history.  NO AMOUNT of government arrests and prosecution of drug criminals will EVER eliminate the presence of drug lords, drug dealers, drug users, or drug victims.  It is sociologically, politically, and legally impossible.  I refer you to one simple word:  Prohibition.  When the federal government illegalized alcohol in 1920 through the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a black market for all kinds of alcohol was created overnight.  It took less than a few weeks for major criminal enterprises to erupt, the most famous being led by Al Capone.  Thousands of murders were committed; violence in cities and towns across America erupted; tens of thousands of arrests were made.   Hundreds of millions of dollars (in 1930’s value) were spent battling it through police departments and court prosecutors, led by Elliot Ness and his “Untouchables.”  The end result?  Utter failure.  Finally, after 13 years and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent, the federal government woke up and ended prohibition in 1933, through the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.  A massive waste.

If we legalized drugs that are illegal today, we would achieve two positive and immediate effects:  1) We would destroy the power, control, and the wealth that illegal drug organizations now control.  Whether drug lords in Colombia and Mexico, or drug dealers on the streets of our cities, they’d be out of business, overnight.  The violence and terrorism that surrounds drug use would cease.  2)  We could treat users of unhealthy and addictive drugs as health problems, not lock them up as criminals.  In the process, we would save billions of taxpayer dollars, make our communities safer places to live, and help addicts recover by putting them in clinics, not jails.  As a Norfolk County Massachusetts drug offenses lawyer with decades of experience handling Massachusetts drug cases, I can assure you this is so. For those who are still unconvinced, I suggest they visit this site:  Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a progressive organization of present and former police officers and other law enforcement officials, as well as former prosecutors, who agree:  Keeping drugs illegal only creates crime and keeps drug addicts hostage to their addictions.

As Reuters News reported yesterday, a major drug bust was made in the Boston area yesterday (Thursday June 16,) as part of a network of arrests designed to break up a vast drug and guns-smuggling enterprise.  Approximately 400 police and law enforcement officers took part in the major operation, fanning out across Boston and surrounding areas. The crime fighting effort was coordinated by the U. S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, and police made 66 arrests of suspected gang members. Continue reading

Readers of this blog will notice that there has been quite a gap since my last  published post here, on March 17, about Massachusetts drug defendants no longer being subjected to having their Massachusetts drivers’ licenses suspended, for having a prior drug conviction.  The reasons for the gap in posts have been that several posts that had been published since March 17 have recently been taken down due to some technical errors.  My apologies, and so let’s get things back to current.

My post today has to do with a topic that my readers know well:  The utter, abysmal, pathetic and shameful failure that has been what politicians and government types have for over 50 years now called the “War on Drugs.”  Idealized in its infancy and first iterations, it sounded great, didn’t it?  The federal government, handing out billions of dollars to themselves and state & local police agencies, would arrest every single “drug user,” “drug dealer,” and anyone in between – all in the name of a “safer,” “healthier” society.  What did this “war” – which has cost taxpayers hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars (yes, that’s billions with a “b”,) ever produce?  Most prominently, it:

  • Funneled billions & billions of our taxpayer dollars into government and law enforcement payrolls, for DEA, ATF, and state & local police payrolls.

Way back in 1988, at the beginning of the “get-tough-on-crime” push in Massachusetts for tougher criminal sentencing and mandatory minimum sentencing laws (a massive failure,) a law was passed  requiring the Massachusetts RMV to suspend the drivers’ licenses of anyone convicted of a Massachusetts drug offense.  Even a minor possession charge.  What did this result in?  Over 27 years, tens and tens of thousands of people lost their drivers’ licenses – even if they weren’t sentenced to any jail time; a conviction, followed by probation, was enough to trigger the suspension.  What did this further result in?  Many of these people couldn’t get jobs, because they needed a car to drive to work if the job applied for wasn’t near public transportation.  That resulted in cyclical unemployment, and an incentive to commit more crime to somehow get their hands on money.  And who paid for all these negative results?  You and me:  The taxpayers.  How? Through our taxes, to pay for unemployment, welfare, and overcrowded jails.  Continue reading

I’ve posted in this blog previously about how Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello introduced his own Department policy of not prosecuting addicts who come in to his police department with illegal drugs and/or drug paraphernalia, seeking medical treatment for their addiction.  I wrote of how sensible, humane, and long-past due this type of rational thinking is, and of how Chief Campanello’s approach should be emulated, not only across Massachusetts, but across the United States.

Well, it seems that this hope, may become a reality.  Through legislation recently filed by Gloucester state Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, persons who appear at any Massachusetts police department, seeking medical treatment for a drug addiction, would not be criminal charged or prosecuted for a Massachusetts drug offense – so long as that person is acting in good faith.  Addicts seeking help with recovery could turn in unwanted heroin and other drugs, without fear of criminal prosecution. Continue reading

In my previous post on this subject, I wrote of how the only sex crime prosecution to date against Bill Cosby, may be ultimately derailed.

The reason has to do with an agreement that the previous Montgomery County District Attorney, Bruce Castor, made with Cosby’s attorneys, over ten years ago.  Then agreement promised not to prosecute Mr. Cosby for what is essentially the crime of indecent assault & battery in connection with allegations made by a woman named Andrea Constand.  Mr. Castor says that he agreed not to prosecute Mr. Cosby, in order to increase Ms. Constand’s chances of prevailing in a civil suit against Mr. Cosby for damages relating to the alleged incident. Continue reading

Up until very recently, it looked as though Bill Cosby’s legal luck had run out; that the celebrity actor was finally going to face prosecution for at least one allegation of rape and sexual assault.  That case stems out of Pennsylvania, and involves an alleged victim named Andrea Constand, who told police in 2005 that Cosby drugged her and then sexually assaulted her at his home in  Pennsylvania in 2004.   At that time, the former Montgomery County District Attorney, a man named Bruce Castor Castor, determined that there was not enough evidence to charge Cosby, but stated in a press release that  all parties to this matter that he will reconsider this decision should the need arise.”

Fast forward ten years, and just last month, December 2015, Cosby was legally charged for the first time, even though almost 50 women have come forward claiming that over decades of time, Cosby drugged, then sexually abused and /or raped them.  The specific crime that Cosby was charged with in Pennsylavnia in December was indecent aggravated assault, involving Andrea Constand’s 2005 allegations against Cosby.   So it looked as though the law had finally caught up with the entertainer.  But some interesting events over just the last few days may imperil that case being prosecuted. Continue reading

There’s been a lot of talk lately, across the country and in Massachusetts also, about whether or not police patrol officers and other law enforcement personnel should wear body cameras.   This debate has been fueled, of course, by allegations of police brutality & police misconduct, and the resulting lawsuits, following the shooting of minority defendants in various incidents across the country.

As a Boston criminal defense attorney, it’s my professional opinion that this is a great idea:  It provides both suspects as well as police officers an objective method of proof as to what did and did not occur in any given situation:  If an arrested suspect or a suspect who has been shot by police has been the victim of unnecessary force, there will be an objective source of evidence to prove it.  If a police officer has not used excessive force or otherwise done anything legally or procedurally prohibited by law or Department regulations, that can also be proven, immediately.  Forget the talking heads on the cable news shows.  Forget the endless blathering by those who make their careers on race-baiting and inflammatory accusations (I don’t have to name names here, do I?).  Forget the shout-fests on both liberal and conservative “news” channels.  The objective evidence will be right there – and it won’t lie. Continue reading

As I write this post, Thanksgiving Day is winding down. Another exercise in mad dashes and massive traffic jams, to get together to give thanks for what we have. (Though most people use it as an excuse to gorge themselves, watch football, and avoid arguments with family members.) Regardless, if you got through this day unscathed from any of the above risks, I’m afraid you may not be in the clear just yet.

Not if you plan on joining the mad throngs descending on the retailers who run “Black Friday” sales. Black Friday, of course, is so named for the fact that the sales volumes typically racked up at large retailers on this day, create large profits leaving these stores “in the black” –earning profits – instead of “in the red” – losing profits. But aside from accounting jargon, this day should be called black for another good reason: The dark, disturbed impulses it brings out in so many people – in the name of “getting a good deal” on some ridiculous material purchase (did someone say the latest iPhone? 60” Flat screen TV?) Continue reading

Police Department records are public documents. Though not everyone knows that, many people do. That’s a good thing, because, for obvious reasons, we wouldn’t want Police Departments to operate in secrecy. Not only do police departments keep their daily logs public – which are abbreviated, digested descriptions of police activity, they must also make the full records of those incidents, which are much lengthier than a simple log entry, public upon request.

So you’d think that the same laws would apply to Massachusetts college & university campus police departments, right? If you said “yes,” you’d be wrong. Continue reading