ACLU’S LATEST “BIG IDEA”: LET’S BAN DRUG AND WEAPONS-SNIFFING DOGS FROM PRISONS

Most people who know me would tell you I’m “Not a liberal,” – and they’d be right. Most of my non-liberal views and positions concern political issues. However, when it comes to legal issues and protecting the legal rights of defendants who have been accused of crimes, I fight tooth and nail to protect and acquit my clients. I believe in the rule of law, and the law provides criminal defendants with certain rights, which I believe should be protected.

But there’s one legal organization out there, that I have never agreed with. Frankly, I find a great deal of their positions on legal issues (never mind social issues) to be extreme in the least, flamingly liberal, and obnoxious (which are often one and the same thing.) That organization is none other than the ACLU, as in American Civil Liberties Union – that bastion of left-wing radicals that aims to turn the United States into a dystopian country where EVERYONE can do ANYTHING they want or SAY ANYTHING they want, ANY WAY they want, at ANY TIME they want, in ANY place they want, where NO ONE can stop them or restrict them on any level. No matter how sickening and disturbing the speech. No matter how hateful the crime. No matter how destructive the conduct – such as manufacturing barbarically violent video games that poison the minds of young teenagers everywhere, producing massacres like Newtown, Conn. In their strange world, no one can be prevented by government from doing or saying ANYTHING they want.

Yet their middle name, literally, is “Civil Liberties.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? I have learned in life that what something sounds like, and what it actually is like, are two very different things. And the ACLU is Exhibit “A” on that point.

The ACLU’s latest twist in twisted thinking, is to try to do something that in my view is beyond any rational thinking: They want to ban drug-sniffing dogs in Massachusetts prisons, from sniffing visitors who enter the prison to see prison inmates. This is almost beyond thought. As a Dedham, Massachusetts drug defense attorney, I know ‘a thing or two’ about jails and prisons. Despite coordinated efforts to keep out drugs, weapons, and other contraband, prisons are hotbeds of smuggling operations by inmates. Why? Because a great many of these prisoners have been convicted of Massachusetts drug crimes – or worse, have been convicted of Massachusetts sexual offense charges, Massachusetts theft crimes, and even murder. The smuggling mostly involves drugs that visitors bring to inmates, but can also involve weapons. Corrections officers do everything they can to minimize the flow of drugs and weapons into jails and prisons, but prisoners’ efforts to smuggle them in never cease. This smuggling activity places not only other inmates at risk, but prison guards also.

The ACLU of Massachusetts has actually sued the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, claiming – hold on to your hats – that the act of a drug-sniffing dog, sniffing an inmate visitor for contraband, constitutes an “invasive” and “unreasonable” search, which will make it “difficult for visitors” and perhaps “reduce the number of visits with inmates’ loved ones.” Can any rational mind believe this? These drug sniffing dogs are all non-aggressive, generally Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers, and “are used because of their inherent gentle natures and help detect the presence of illegal drugs entering DOC facilities,” to quote the Department of Correction’s own website. These are not vicious, snarling, German Shepherds – the last time I checked, Golden Retrievers and Labradors were among the most docile dogs known to man. And they’re used in PRISONS – these aren’t public libraries. More so, they’re used in some of the most dangerous prisons in Massachusetts – maximum and medium security prisons.

Yet, the ACLU actually claims they’re “inappropriate,” “invasive,” and “impermissible.” Their “rationale” is that the dogs may occasionally indicate a “false positive” on a visitor – which could “embarrass” the visitor or make him/her feel “anxious.” Can you believe that? In an airport, people can be searched up and down, inside and out, scanned electronically, and be sniffed by drug-detecting dogs. You’re even asked to take some of your clothes off. Happens every day to millions of people. It’s necessary. We accept that. But let visitors to maximum-security Massachusetts prisons be sniffed by a gentle Golden Retriever? Oh, no!! We MUST stop that!! What if a dog incorrectly indicated a visitor might have illegal drugs on his or her person? Oh, God, they’ll never be the same!!” The horror!

I’m a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney. That means I value civil liberties. But the ACLU can make me sick with its extreme and outrageous lawsuits, which it likes to file as snowflakes fly in a blizzard. I wish they would take their unreasonably, sickeningly liberal views, and use them to sue for something that’s REALLY needed.

I’m not holding my breath.