Scott Morgan asks a fundamental question that needs to be asked when discussing our prison problem. How many people in jail for drug crimes are completely innocent, and are there solely because of how easy it is to convict an innocent person of drug crimes? He references the recent case of two men in New York City who were able to find video evidence proving that they were framed by the police. Had they not uncovered that evidence, there’s no question they would have been sent away to jail. Rarely, if ever, do juries believe the testimony of defendants over the word of the police. And in fact, many people just accept plea deals after their attorneys tell them there’s no way to win.
If it were only possible somehow to reveal the full scope of wrongful, fraudulent convictions in the war on drugs, I don’t doubt that the entire nation would be stunned and sickened. Yet, for anyone who’s paying attention, it’s not necessary to fantasize about the true extent of injustice and corruption that the drug war has unleashed on innocent people. You can read about it in the newspaper all the time.
In Ohio, we saw a DEA agent indicted for helping frame 17 innocent people. In Atlanta, we saw police plant drugs in the home of an innocent 88-year-old woman after shooting her to death. In Tulia, TX we saw a rogue narcotics officer frame and arrest most of the black people in town. In Hearne, TX we saw the same damn thing. And across the country, we’ve seen dozens of innocent people who might well have ended up in prison if they hadn’t been killed first by the police who raided their homes.
What should give anyone pause is how frequently we encounter law enforcement officials – and especially narcotics officers – who act as if they’re above the law. It should certainly give us pause to reflect upon how this points to the high likelihood that there are large numbers of completely innocent people behind bars in this country due to the drug war.