Thursday, October 07, 2004

Another monster safely off the streets

The brave, heroic drug warriors in Washington DC really have something to be proud of this week. Jonathan Magbie, a quadriplegic man serving a ten day jail sentence for a first-time marijuana possession conviction, died in a DC jail last week.
Despite recommendations of probation that weren't challenged by the prosecution, the ever so appropriately named Judge Retchin sentenced him to 10 days in jail. Her rationale for the harsh sentence was that there was a gun in the car Mr. Magbie was riding in when he was caught with the pot (note the word riding, as opposed to driving). "It is just unacceptable to be riding around in a car with a loaded gun in this city", she said. Who's the last quadriplegic you remember having gone on a shooting spree, your honor? I do understand the impulse to punish those caught with guns or hanging around with people with guns, but the man can't scratch his own nose, much less aim and fire a gun.
So this guy goes to jail, where he quite predictably gets substandard medical care. Being someone for whom substandard medical care=death, he dies.
Lots of kudos to go around on this one:
I'd like to thank Judge Retchin for having the compassion to put a quadriplegic man who smoked pot to ease his pain in jail for simple possession.
I'd like to thank our brave leaders in congress, past and present, for criminalizing pot possession, for medical and recreational use.
I'd like to thank the zealots at the Office of National Drug Control Policy for helping create and maintain a political climate conducive to the creation of the terrible policies that put Mr. Magbie behind bars.
And finally I'd like to thank the incompetent functionaries in the DC jails who shuffled a very sick man (and the buck) back and forth, until he died.
Thanks for proving anew how terrible an idea this drug war is in both theory and practice.

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