Category: drug policy

Montana socialite who hosted cocaine parties won’t be doing time

Mansion arrest: Dru Cederberg, 52, served copious amounts of cocaine at lavish drug parties
Dru Cederberg

Dru Cederberg is heir to the Brach’s candy fortune.  She is also a Billings, Montana socialite who held cocaine parties at her home with socially prominent friends.  Perhaps I am being unkind.  The cocaine didn’t come out until late in the evening, after the fine food had been consumed and the help had cleared away the rich desserts.  This drug-fueled social activity went on for at least ten years and involved dozens of prosperous people.

Dru Cederberg won’t be spending a day in prison.  She is white, fifty-two years old, and a recent convert to a higher and purer life.  More importantly, she is a member of high society and the American criminal justice system hates putting women like Dru Cederberg behind bars.

Besides, Dru kindly participated with federal prosecutors–U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell thanked her for performing “yoman’s service” for the United States government.  That means she ratted out her friends including businessman Terri Jabs Kurth and Robert L. Eddleman, Carbon County’s former top prosecutor and one-time Montana Supreme Court candidate.

The only person doing serious time for the high-society drug escapade are the three Latino males who supplied the drugs: Domingo Baez, Maurisio Ramiro and Gilberto Acevedo.  Baez, the purported kingpin, will be serving eleven years in federal prison.  There is no question that Baez was bringing in the drugs only because people like Dru Cederberg, Terri Kurth and Robert Eddleman made it worth his while.

Federal authorities could have indicted dozens of prosperous white folks had they chosen to do so–that’s how extensive the drug activity was.  But drug use among the monied class holds little interest for prosecutors at either the federal or state level.

I am not suggesting that Dru Cederberg should have been sentenced to a decade or longer in the slammer (although federal sentencing guidelines could have been manipulated to justify a life sentence).  Eight months of house arrest and a $500,000 fine seems an appropriate sentence.  But ask yourself how things would have played out had Dru Cederberg been a black male street hustler running a crack house in the hood. (more…)

Supreme Court ruling shreds fourth amendment

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Alan Bean

The Supreme Court of the United States just gave police officers permission to evade the fourth amendment at will.  Eight justices signed off on this deal; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented forcefully.

At issue is the meaning of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Supreme Court has traditionally concluded that “searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.”  The only exception to this rule is when police are dealing with “exigent circumstances”.

What is an exigent circumstance?  Risk of death of serious bodily injury qualifies as exigent.  The likely escape of a criminal suspect makes the grade.  Finally, police officers can smash open your door if they have reason to believe that evidence is being destroyed.

But there used to be a catch.  Police officers were not allowed to create an exigent circumstance by banging on the door or shouting.  If signs that evidence was being destroyed inside a private dwelling existed when the police arrived at the scene, they could enter the home without a warrant; but they could not stimulate the destruction of evidence by announcing their presence.  (more…)

Michelle Alexander: ‘Interest convergence’ won’t end mass incarceration

“Public relations consultants like the FrameWorks Institute — which dedicates itself to ‘changing the public conversation about social problems’ — advise advocates to speak in a ‘practical tone’ and avoid discussions of ‘fairness between groups and the historical legacy of racism.’  Surely the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have rejected that advice.”

-Michelle Alexander

– “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation .  For years now I have heard the ‘Wait!’  It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity.  This ‘Wait!’ has almost always meant ‘Never!”

-Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail (more…)

Narcotics: Attack Capital, Not People

Mark Osler, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, believes we should stop arresting scores of low-level drug dealers and start interdicting drug money in high places.  This concise form of his unique take on drug policy appeared in the Huffington Post.  If you are intrigued by Professor Osler’s thesis but aren’t sure about the details, an in-depth statement of his argument can be found here.  Highly recommended. 

Narcotics: Attack Capital, Not People

By Mark Osler

The war on drugs is over. Drugs won.

There seem to be two common answers as to what to do next. The political establishment (including the Obama administration) largely supports doing the same things we always have — locking up lots of people who are selling, making or carrying drugs. Meanwhile, increasingly vocal groups of reformers on both the right and left support the legalization of narcotics.

They are all wrong. Supporters of the same tactics we have pursued for decades need to recognize the failure of that enterprise. Many drugs are cheaper, purer, and more widely available now than they were twenty years ago. Legalization proponents, meanwhile, ignore the dire social consequences of narcotics like crack cocaine and methamphetamine (they have a stronger argument in relation to marijuana). There simply is no ignoring the way hard drugs can rip apart the social fabric of a family or community — especially in areas that are already economically vulnerable. (more…)