Wednesday, April 23, 2008


TAKIN’ A BITE OUTTA McGRUFF: In one of the most bizarre abuses of judicial discretion one could imagine in modern times a Big Island pot grower has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara.

According to repots in the Honolulu Star Bulletin and Advertiser (although not even mentioned in the Big Island’s own Hawai`i Tribune-Herald), first time offender Volcano resident David Finley Jr., 65 was caught a year ago January with a growing operation in Volcano and busted with three greenhouses and 75 pounds of dried pakalolo.

What is going on with some of these judges these days? Rapists, murderers and child molesters are let off with probation yet someone providing an innocuous plant sometimes for medical licensees causes headlines in the International Herald Tribune to say “U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations” in what they characterize as “that entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment.”

The lead says simply: “The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners” and that “they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations”.

"Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror," James Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. "Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons.".

People who commit nonviolent crimes in the rest of the world are less likely to receive prison time and certainly less likely to receive long sentences. The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks, Whitman wrote.

Efforts to combat illegal drugs play a major role in explaining long prison sentences in the United States as well. In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.
Those figures have drawn contempt from European critics. "The U.S. pursues the war on drugs with an ignorant fanaticism," said Stern of King's College.

Get a grip judgie-wudgie. What kind of power-mad, nut-cases do we allow onto the bench these days? We expect to hear this self-serving type of rhetoric from prosecutors, police chiefs and DEA agents who owe the funding if their programs to the misinformation campaigns about marijuana but of course none amount to more than Neanderthal chest pounding.

We should expect more from our judges.

By any intelligent and analytical standard this is the kind of nonsense that has led to the methamhetamine epidemic and the spike in underage drinking. No one but a complete moron can believe that there is any “pathway” or “gateway” from pot to the really bad stuff.

Those who use more than 1/100th of their brains to figure it out know programs like D.A.R.E. which benefit from this non-sequitor thinking are actually causing the epidemic of “ice” and other destructive and brain-cell killing drugs by telling kids that all drugs are the same- except only the illegal one are “bad”.

Unlike these self-deluded opportunists, kid’s aren’t complete idiots all the time. But they are empty vessels that will fill up, in adolescent years, with exactly the opposite of what we tell them is “right”. When they figure that all pot it does is make you hungry and laugh a lot they figure that the “authorities” are lying about all others “drugs” too... so why not do smoke crank or sniff paint or drink antifreeze.

Looking through the 167 (at press time) comments in the Star Bulletin’s article it’s easy to see that the perception is that as a state we are in the dark ages with our treatment of marijuana through both absurd legislative measures and draconian enforcement.

There’s more than a minimal perception in those comments that race has a lot to do with this case where over 90 community letters of support for respected “haole” kupuna Finley didn’t dissuade Judge Hara from throwing him in the pokey probably for the rest of his life and throwing away the key.

Most U.S. communities simply tell police and prosecutors to ignore pot use and some growing, putting a low priority on both arrest and judicial processing of marijuana. How can we in Hawai`i in this day and age do this to people, especially non-violent providers of a medically approved substance that could also actually prevent our teenagers from becoming serious addicts because it’s denial causes the non-availability of this alternate to destructive and addictive drugs?

It’s a substance that is not only ubiquitous among adult- even judges- and its denial is causing children to be drunks or ice-heads and require treatment and counseling... which isn’t even available to them most of the time when they do ask for help.

For the cost of incarcerating Finley for 20 years how many treatment beds could be provided... especially of the “on-demand” variety?

We can’t even offer treatment to all the kids we’re throwing into ice-use because they can’t get pakalolo, much less offer it to them at the time they ask when they are motivated toward success in treatment.

Instead we put our limited resources into enforcement and listen to zany misinformed police chiefs, prosecutors and others who make their living through big anti-drug money interests and their careers through blather about the evils of reefer madness.

It’s easy to call out those who blindly worship at the alter of the law for these constrictions and contortions. But it is just as much the people who tolerate these pronouncements from ignorance that cause judges to put away our children for no particular purpose other than the ease of “disappearing” them from society, creating a college of incarceration to turn confused kids into trained, hardened criminals who, while non-violent and non-career criminals when they went in, will be preying on us now that they learned “the trade” on our dime.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In this case, even 10 years would have been severe. This sentence is a travesty; not justice. This judge has an agenda. Whenever a judge has an agenda of any kind, justice suffers. Making an example of someone for the sake of an agenda is not justice. His agenda could be:
-sending a message to "druggies"
-grabbing headlines for himself
-kicking nonJapanese butts
-punishing those who don't give payola to his buddies
-none of the above; but, something
We don't know. It doesn't matter.
It's wrong to bash another human with your agenda.
Regards, Pete Antonson