Thursday, September 21, 2006


I know that both the left and whacko right are represented by poster on this blog. I need input from you on all sides of this issue.

I don't expect necessarily any of you to agree with my position on ending the prohibition on 'controlled substances' but can there be any reasonable middle ground.

Let me submit a recent example covered by Reuters

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A U.S. woman held in jail for seven months longer than her original sentence because she was too poor to pay a $705 fine was freed on Wednesday, her attorney said.

Ora Lee Hurley was ordered to pay the fine and sentenced in August 2005 to 120 days in jail after she was convicted in Georgia of possession of cocaine for personal use and breaking the terms of probation for a similar offense 15 years before.

Can someone please tell me why any amount of jail time is reasonable for someone convicted of having a controlled substance for personal use.

I don't want to make this discussion about drug legalization because sadly that's not a reality in this country. Instead from both left and right, please tell me what the role of government force should be for someone like Ora Lee Hurley.


Jeff said...

Jail time in this case was probably wrong but she was in jail primarily for failing to pay the fine, not the drug use.

little-cicero said...

The role of government should be to help people to recover from their destructive addictions by offering programs for rehabilitation and consequences to coerce them into doing so. The fact is, when you become an addict, reason and logic go out the window, as does the ability to take care of yourself. Liberty is submitted with the onset of addiction. Since (as our Preamble puts it) it is the responsibility of government to secure the blessings of liberty to every citizen, it is the responsibility of government to arrest, detain and rehabilitate addicts that they may regain and secure their freedoms.

Now I know there may be a fine line. For example, I like coffee- if I drink too much I can become addicted. That doesn't give government the right to detain me. But if I become a menace to society it does on the grounds of my being a menace.

Cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs available. If someone was arrested doing cocaine and caught doing it in prison, they are not free of their addiction. Their liberty is not secure.

Tracy said...

LC - I think the addiction problem can and does go beyond personal responsibility but I'm not going to give your role of government a free pass there. I'm curious if you believe every person who uses drugs is an addict?

Having been a musician I've had the displeasure of knowing alot of addicts but moreso a greater number of casual users who I didn't find to be obnoxious at all.

Does government have a role of force for people who are casual users?

Esther said...

I disagree with LC's description of the role of government when it comes to drug use. I think of it more in terms of the menace to society point. It is government's job to protect its citizens, which can mean to protect law abiding citizens from the menace of those who do not abide by the law. Often, addicts will steal from their relatives and such to get the money for the drugs and I doubt that would change even if those drugs were legalized.

As I work for a mental health and substance abuse treatment center, I have seen many different sides of addiction. Some people will likely never get better. Others are just experimenting and need some understanding of when and how their drug use could become problematic.

I am a little fuzzy on this issue. I do not think drug legalization is a good idea, because of drug related crime. Also, because many illegal drugs can cause serious harm to the people using them, even if they do not use them for years and years.

Interestingly enough, alcohol dependence and abuse is far more common a problem than the misuse of illegal drugs . . .

Esther said...

LC, one nitpick here, caffeine is not an addictive substance, it is "habit forming."

Leslie said...

Philisophically speaking, the only role of the government in Ms. Hurley's life is to protect the freedoms granted her by the United States Constitution and to provide military protection from alien invasion.

That is it.

However, the US being what it is, the police should only step in to arrest Ms. Hurley should she commit a crime against another person. Arresting drug addicts for crimes they might commit is not ethical, in my opinion. Ever see Minority Report?

Tracy said...


I'd add delivering her mail to that list as well.

PlatinumGirl said...

I think the size of the non-violent prison population is way out of control -- and it's pretty revolting to think someone decided a person's life is worth $100 a month. Bullshit -- she should've been able to pay that debt off with 7 DAYS of time, if any. Seriously, how much did it cost the state to keep her in jail for an extra 7 months? I'd be willing to bet it was more than $705. Stupid bureaucrats.