When Henry Wooten was arrested in Tyler Texas for smoking a joint, police found a couple baggies with 4.6 ounces of marijuana on him. And because he was caught within 1000 feet of a day care center, that landed Wooten a 35-year prison sentence.
A post at Dallas/Ft. Worth NORML explains:
This is, more or less, a warning for those who would openly defy Marijuana Laws in Texas. The Texas Justice system is a series of policies designed to incarcerate people, not rehabilitate or help them in anyway. Henry’s case is unique because his possession limit was on the cusp of being a misdemeanor. In Texas, it is a misdemeanor to possess four ounces or less. One to two ounces is a class B, and three to four is a class A misdemeanor. Henry was found guilty of possessing four ounces to one pound, a felony which could be 2 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. However, since Henry was in a “drug free zone”, Smith County Assistant District Attorney Richard Vance had asked for the jury to give Wooten a sentence of 99 years. Do you think he got off easy?
Or perhaps we should phrase that question from a different perspective: do you think Texas taxpayers got off easy? Will society benefit from the hundreds of thousands of dollars that will be spent to imprison Wooten for the next three and a half decades, for the simple charge of possessing a substance we could all easily grow in our backyards?
Yeah, this is one of those extreme, hyperbolic examples, but our prisons are filled with these extreme, hyperbolic examples, in Washington state and throughout the nation. Why? Because our drug laws simply don’t make any sense. And that’s why we need a more Sensible Washington.
Anyone else notice Goldy pattern of being outraged when the penalty is too severe, but remaining silent when the penalty is too soft, as in the case of the Tuba Man murder?
The “penalty multiplyers” started with adding substantial additional penalties to those committing specified crimes near schools. The idea was to force drub pushers away from the school gates. But then they added daycare centers. Considering the proliferation of home daycare centers, it could be argued that there aren’t that many spots in urban residential areas which aren’t within the penalty zones.
It seems to me that this incident has a very different message.
I Wooten broke the law why should the tax
I see a parallel here between Wooten and Martha Stewart. Both broke the law. Both were “punished” by thre tax payers purchasing hotel rooms and confining them to those rooms.
Alki Postings spews:
So it’s ALL about protecting the children? We have to put someone in jail for 35 years for smoking a joint within 1000 feet of a day care, but not if they drink a bottle of vodka within a 1000 foot of a day care? Makes sense.
Say, since it’s ALL about “protecting the children”, when can I expect the speed limit to be lowered to 35mph so we can save 2,000 children a year who die in highway speed car crashes? That’s EACH YEAR. Remember 9/11? That was 3,000 people, ONCE, 9 years ago. Since then 18,000 children have died on our highways. I mean you don’t want to KILL 2,000 innocent children a year just so you can get to where you’re driving quicker, DO YOU! Do you want to murder children! Do you! Sounds logical.
When the drug laws were first proposed, there was not a lot of science involved…but plenty of racial bigotry. Modern legislators may have forgotten the racist intent (or have intentionally buried the racism under ‘code’) but the origins of the drug laws are still there for anyone with sufficient curiosity to investigate.
So, why is it, when that origin is there for all to see…and when our modern drug laws are predicated upon as much a dearth of actual science as our original ones were…and the laws have a disproportionately negative effect upon minorities (as the original laws were intent upon achieving) as they do…why aren’t these laws being examined as to both their bigoted origins and their singular lack of success in controlling the behavior they were meant to?
# 5: Drug prosecutions up to the late 1960’s were designed to go after the “underclass” (i.e., poor and minorities). They didn’t affect the middle and upper class, which enjoyed immunity because their drugs of choice were alchohol and prescription medicines.
But with the advent of pot & LSD into the counter-culture, there was a new focus to go after the “hippies”, which were percieved by the authorities at the time to be part of the “underclass”. The problem was, most of the young people targeted now weren’t poor or racial minorities. They were children of affluent – and sometimes influential – middle and upper class families. Suddenly these kids were facing serious jail time for minor drug offenses, and their parents were calling their Congressmen, prosecutors, judges, etc.
So by 1970 you had a multi-tiered approach, depending upon the social status of the suspect. The authorities pledged that they weren’t going after the minor drug user, but instead the “pusher” – who was presumed to be an inner-city minority who was preying upon the “good kids” in the suburbs. In practice this meant that the middle and upper class kids who agreed to cooperate with fingering the “pusher” would get a free pass. This option was seldom given to the poor and minorities, who were going to be thrown in jail anyway, but they might get a “slight” reduction in their sentences for cooperating.
Later, as kids from affluent families repeatedly found themselves caught up in the drug dragnets, they were given the option of deferred prosecution while they were sent to private drug rehab programs. Some of these were good programs which required a considerable committment by the patient, but some were just glorified luxory resorts with a mandatory three-hour class a few days a week (and sometimes the staff made sure the patients had delivered to them any drugs they desired). For poor or minorities who couldn’t afford these private drug rehab programs, there was no other effective option. With publically-financed drug rehab programs having long waiting lists (in some cases decades), the poor and minorities would sit in jail waiting for their chance to enter rehab. Often they never came up on the waiting list before their sentence was served.
Roger Rabbit spews:
I’m surprised they didn’t execute him, like they did to that guy whose house accidentally caught fire. I mean, Texas is Texas …
Roger Rabbit spews:
In some Texas towns, the cops not liking your looks is enough to get you locked up and your property confiscated.
The dumb thing here is EVERONE’s obsessions. The pot freedom movement places their freedom to enjoy MJ at a level that is .. well extraordinary. Imagine in nudists took as strong a stand or dog owners?
OTOH, there is the fanatical crowd that defends its MJ taboos as if God Himself were endangered. Smoke the forbidden weed? You are a threat second only to el Qaeda? GAK!
It seems to me that we waste vast sums on a system of criminal injustice that causes a hell of a lot more crime than anything MJ could do on its own.
Back at MJ. Does anyone think that the current system is working? Apparently we have outlawed a plant while anyone able to make an agonist with the same effects can do so LEGALLY! Meantime perps like Stewart, Millikan, and Madoff get punished by OUR having to pay their hotel bills!
In Texas??? Has he been sentenced to death yet?