“America needs fewer laws, not more prisons.” – James Bovard
Dr. Ron Paul spent his entire public life telling us that the Drug War was insanity. It is unconstitutional as well as counter productive. We saw the effects of a drug prohibition during the failed experiment of Alcohol Prohibition.
The idea of the State protecting us from ourselves is laughable as well as being anti-liberty. Example after example proving that the entire anti-drug enterprise is crazy have come fast and furious for years; but today I have a topper I think. A story out of Florida.
The Palm Beach Post headline seemed innocent enough: State high court upholds drug possession law. But upon reading the story I saw that the side effects of the ruling were vast indeed. The law of unintended consequences is unleashed yet again. The legal situation in Florida is outrageous indeed:
Florida will remain one of the only two states in the country that sends people to prison on drug possession charges without first proving the person knew what they were carrying was illegal.
In a decision that will assure thousands will remain behind bars on a charge that many defense attorneys and some judges insist is blatantly unconstitutional, a divided Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the state’s drug possession law.
“There is no constitutional right to possess contraband,” Justice Charles Canady wrote for the majority. “Nor is there a protected right to be ignorant of the nature of the property in one’s possession.”
Dissenting justice Justice James Perry listed some of the consequences of this precedent as it will someday apply to other laws:
Could the legislature amend its murder statute such that the state could meet its burden of proving murder by proving that a defendant touched another and the victim died as a result?” he asked, quoting from a federal judge who like several circuit judges in the state struck down the statute as unconstitutional. “Could the state prove felony theft by proving that a defendant was in possession of an item that belonged to another, leaving the defendant to prove he did not take it?
… [he goes on to give examples] … a letter carrier who delivers a package containing unprescribed Adderall; a roommate who is unaware that the person who shares his apartment has hidden illegal drugs in the common areas of the home; a mother who carries a prescription pill bottle in her purse, unaware that the pills have been substituted for illegally obtained drugs by her teenage daughter, who placed them in the bottle to avoid detection.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Peter Antonacci gave a chilling response:
Antonacci said prosecutors aren’t likely to waste time going after a letter carrier or a hapless mother. “We have enough to do,” he said.
It looks like this power mad prosecutor believes that the citizens of Florida should trust in his personal decisions of who to put in cages and who to let remain free. He believes that the State should have unlimited power apparently. I wonder how he got his law license without reading about the requirement of Mens Rea in the law? One of the basic tenants of our system of justice is that you must prove the “guilty mind” on the part of the accused. Now Florida says that is no longer a requirement.
The only assurance of not being a victim of this new loss of rights, according to Antonacci, seems to be that his office does not have the manpower to cage everyone. He will be asking for more money and manpower soon no doubt.
In response to Antonacci a defense attorney points out that the system is not manned by angels:
West Palm Beach defense attorney Kai Li Aloe Fouts isn’t so certain. “You’ve got good cops and you’ve got bad cops. You’ve got good prosecutors. You’ve got bad prosecutors,” she said. “We have cases every single day, where we’re scratching our heads, wondering, “Why was this filed?’ “
As long as the law leaves opportunity for abuse by prosecutors, cops, and judges we will see abuse of the liberties and rights of the people. Have we not all learned that in these decades of the drug war?
This ruling is just one more example of handing power to the “justice” system that has put millions in cages unconstitutionally. Now we want to put mothers in jail for a bottle of pills she did not even know was illegal! Just great. Don’t live in Florida? Millions visit Florida and Disney World every year on vacation. Be careful!
Tell me why thinking Americans rejected anti-drug-war Ron Paul.