Unintended Consequences of the War on Drugs
Author Radley Balko on the dangers of America’s war on drugs.
- Duration 7:54
- Date Jul 20, 2012
Author Radley Balko on the dangers of America’s war on drugs.
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Drug raids like this one happened America more than a hundred times every day.
When this rate is swat team broke into this family's house.
-- -- -- Once inside they didn't find -- drug.
The owner was just charged with possessing drug paraphernalia.
The drug war is the main reason American jails more people than any other country.
I'm not gonna debate the merits of the drug laws now that's for another show but I want to talk about the tactics like that rate.
Such raids are increasing in number and sometimes the police make the stakes.
Here's another case -- may was sleeping and its culture Mississippi one night when he woke to a loud banging on the door.
I thought somebody looked with the fashion merge man they -- -- this does not have a thousand.
You never -- ahead.
The -- was well let his lawyer export.
He got his -- ran into the back bedroom -- dollar wars and he had just gotten there when the door was keep -- And some rough figure came in and -- -- he being cold.
Fired three jobs.
The man at the door was a police officer one of those shots killed him.
-- was arrested and charged with murder and sent to death -- And very -- for years before journalist Bradley -- started reporting on the injustice of the raid and what happened at -- you so Bradley tell the story.
I was researching actually it was a policy analyst for the Cato institute at the time and I was researching a paper on these tactics on the used to -- swat swat teams.
Honest and about a 15100%.
Increase in the use of these these sorts of raids the last 25 years or so.
Mostly because of the drug war.
-- reviewed a lot of these rates and I was researching this paper and I came across corps' case and I found like and in Associated Press right up in the local news right up.
And -- -- -- explained exactly what you just said that there was a raid on quarries house that he woke up the middle of the night their people breaking into his house.
I had no prior criminal record the basically found a burnt marijuana cigarette in the house that was all they found.
Any live next to a known drug dealer -- was pretty clear that they had intended to get them the apartment next to -- and and -- rated him by mistake.
Sees a lot of red flags solicitor to sort of scenario -- right he did killer cops he absolutely did -- -- meet I mean there's no question about that.
Possibly give to two scenarios -- prosecutions case is that this guy who had no criminal record no drugs to speak of in this house woke up.
Knew that these were cops breaking into his house decided to take them on with his little handgun.
Shot and killed just one of them and then immediately surrendered with bullets still left in the gun.
The other scenarios -- you know there cops that he woke up and thought he was being robbed or invaded hit an eighteen month old god the daughter asleep on his bed.
And -- was terrified.
If we're gonna have drug laws and drugs to hurt people.
Many Americans say you know this just goes with territory.
You have these are really aggressive tactics right when you break in the somebody's -- -- the -- night when you -- their -- -- -- -- -- -- swat teams for.
Terrorists are serious threats emergency situations right bank robberies are hostage takings.
But now they are overwhelming in -- overwhelmingly used to serve search warrants for drug crimes and usually pretty low level crimes.
So you know you you you.
Elicited very primitive response from someone when you break into the home in the middle of the night radiates fighter flight Ole miss your sanctuary -- -- castle right it's it's your place of refuge and you can't really fleet when you wake up in your home to armed men in her home so public of the -- -- many answers here your face of this very sort of primitive decision and I mean in case like Korea mean he had no reason to think that these -- cops coming -- his -- and if you actually are drug dealer you might suspect that that's the case right.
But all the time that these -- to break into people's housing get get the wrong house by mistake they're put in this really terrible position.
Some people want to and even tougher drug war they say these -- make America safer.
We should be kicking now more doors -- should bull was White House drug czar advisor under President Bush includes.
-- not kick in the door somebody's smoking a -- On their couch they're kick in the door somebody who -- a violent person with a known history to be dangerous when they get it right sometimes they make mistakes terrorized.
Because that accident happens should not be the reason that we do away with the program because of an accident.
We shouldn't do it that the program.
Yeah however dispute is premise also.
They're supposed to only do these sorts of -- from the person is violent or has a history of violence.
What we're saying is that just the fact that this person is suspected to have drugs is usually enough for the police to claim that their violence and they can get the warrant to make these kinds of entries.
I would -- you know this is more dangerous for cops to mean drug use at the usually think it's a rival drug dealer that's breaking into -- house let's move on to another aspect of the drug law and -- prosecution civil forfeiture what's that sort of the height of the drug wars stereo who congress passed this law and a lot of states followed suit that said.
The police can take your stuff -- from you even if you aren't convicted of the crime the fact even if you're never charged with a crime.
And what they do is that the police we'll take your property you know say we found some evidence that this -- in some way connected drug activity.
And you know have to prove that you -- that property legitimately and the incentives -- the cops can make money from the money Julie Madison police department.
It's just one example Russell and pack -- -- dollar about to have the motel they own taken by the government.
Not because the test -- broke any laws.
But because the local police department wants to cash in on the -- -- property.
Worth more than a million dollars.
Because at tiny fraction of people -- stayed at the motel casual during the past twenty years have been arrested for crimes.
Civil forfeiture allows the government to take property -- -- suspects has some involvement with a crime.
But unlike criminal forfeiture where property can only be taken if the owner has convicted of the crime.
Police can use -- civil forfeiture to take away cash cars homes or other property without conflicting or even charging the -- with any wrongdoing.
The US department of justice and the local police will split -- payout of more than a million dollars if they can successfully seize and sell the cast wells land.
That's an all the losses but I have trouble thinking of the Justice Department and the local cops and it's just feeds.
I mean if you look at this case the council case that the government admits that -- this motel have not committed any crimes.
They're trying to take their hotel or motel -- from the because they're saying they weren't doing enough to prevent crimes from occurring on their property.
I'm sort of the next step and asset -- it's -- we suspect few if anything now it's you need to do more to prevent other people from committing crimes on your property and instantly that often includes hiring members local police department to to work off duty security at your hotel cook coincidentally of course.
And just -- swat team rates have increased peace forfeiture is have increased in 1986.
They confiscated 93 million dollars pretty good but 2008.
More than a billion dollars so tell us more more laws more enforcement.
And we're now to a point where a lot of police departments actually right forfeiture proceeds into their budget that so this is and this is no longer money that's buying you know cappuccino machines and you know extra fancy police guard -- our cases of cappuccino machines as a -- the Hawaii Margarita machine in one case.
But now now of that -- that the officers actual -- actual salaries is dependent on them finding people to forfeit property and and money to the police department.