From Mississippi

Monday, December 10th, 2007

I spent most of last week in Mississippi, working on a very cool new project related to the Cory Maye case. Details on the project itself forthcoming. I’ll also post some updates on Cory’s legal situation later in the week. For now, though, some rambling thoughts (and photos) from my trip:

This was my fifth trip to Mississippi, and backward as the state’s politics and criminal justice system may be, the place is growing on me. There’s a rustic, pastoral kind of beauty to Mississippi. I’ve made the drive from Prentiss to Jackson about a dozen times now, usually at dusk as I’m headed back to the hotel, and it’s a really pretty ride. Rolling, fence-lined pastures, still green in December, turn to hilly roads tunneled by tall, skinny pines shooting up from their shoulders; lots of lazy, grazing cattle, still gnawing on cud as the sun slips behind the hills; and loads of charming, deep-south imagery—the odd roadside barbecue joint; a massive catfish restaurant with an always-bustling parking lot; a crazy fundamentalist’s property with Bible verses and admonitions against smoking, drinking, and molesting babies tacked to the trees; and your occasional scraggly dog tethered to a tree or beat-up dog house, watching the lumber-hauling tractor trailers blow down the highway. And of course, the people are incredibly warm. I think every third word uttered down here is “sugar,” “hon,” or “baby.” As in, “More coffee for you, baby?” Or, “some pie, sugar?”

On Wednesday we visited Melissa Longino, grandmother of Ta’Corrianna, Cory Maye’s little girl. In a better world, she’d have been Cory’s mother-in-law. Melissa offered moving testimony at the September 2006 hearing. She recounted a deep affection for Cory, and detailed the way Cory doted on his daughter in their short 18 months together. She also talked about how he’s struggled to remain a part of his kids’ lives from prison. As she said at the hearing, Longino told us this week that Cory has never missed an important day when it comes to staying in touch with his kids. He calls both his children every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every birthday. His cards, she said, come three or four days early, just to be sure Mo (T’a’Corianna’s nickname) gets them in time. Each time Ta’Corianna visits her grandmother, Longino said, the first thing she does is tear through the house to look for the cards and letters her daddy sent her. “Did he write me?” she asks. And yes, Longino says, every time, there’s at least one (usually several) letter from Cory waiting for her. She is and always has been, Longino says, a “Daddy’s girl.”

On Thursday we talked to Dorothy Maye Funchess, Cory’s mother, and she relayed much of the same sentiment. Cory, she says, is better at remembering birthdays than she she is—not just his kids’, but those of everyone in the family. He tells her exactly what gifts to get the kids, and often knows before she does what they want for a birthday, or for Christmas. He calls in the fall to make sure they’re well-outfitted for school, and if Funchess is busy with work or occupied by her other grandkids, Cory enlists his sister to make sure his kids always get what they need. In fact, Funchess says, the first thing Cory said to her after he was sentenced to death was, “I love you mama. Please take good care of my kids.”

Unfortunately (but understandably), Chanteal Longino’s been seeing someone new for a couple of years, and is trying to move on with her life. She now lives in Covington, Louisiana. But her efforts to distance herself from what happened on December 26, 2001, though understandable, mean necessarily distancing Ta’Corrianna from that night as well. And it’s impossible to distance the little girl from the raid and its fallout without also taking her away from Cory. So Cory’s finding it more and more difficult to remain a part of his daughter’s life, despite his best efforts, and despite that he’s a better father from prison than many kids get in their own homes. Dorothy says Cory’s heartbroken over the increasing distance between he and Ta’Corrianna. As is she.

I don’t doubt that there are lots of convicted felons who struggle to stay parents to their kids from prison. But in Cory’s case, it’s particularly brutal. He’s in prison not because he was a poor father, or because he engaged in a life of crime that hurt or put his kids at risk. On the contrary. By all accounts he was loving, attentive father. He had no criminal record. Talk to Cory’s relatives, and they’ll tell you that their memories of him have him dressing his kids, bathing them, changing them, holding them, and brushing and braiding their hair. He cooked for them, and played with them. When construction jobs dried up and he couldn’t work, he became his daughter’s primary caretaker while, Chanteal worked nights at the chicken plant. He’s in prison precisely because he acted out of fear for his daughter’s safety. He thought someone was breaking into his home to harm the two of them. That that act has now put him in a position where he’s being slowly erased from his daughter’s life—from a jail cell where there’s little he can do about it—is a crushingly cruel twist of fate.

To believe Cory was guilty of capital murder, you have to believe that he knowingly and intentionally killed Ron Jones, and that he did so with the knowledge that Jones was a police officer. You have to believe that this man, who had no criminal record, and who’s “crime” was no more than a burnt roach in his apartment, knowingly decided to take on a team of raiding police officers; laid in wait for them to kick open his bedroom door; deliberately chose to engage in gunfire in the room where his daughter was laying; decided to fire just three rounds; shot and killed a police officer; then surrendered with bullets still left in his gun. Almost nothing about that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense even if you don’t know Cory. And it certainly doesn’t make sense if you talk to anyone who knows him.

This isn’t a dangerous, unrepentant cop killer who needs to be separated from society. The far more plausible explanation is that this is a guy who had just moved away from home; who was wary of his neighbor (who actually was involved in the drug trade, and by all appearances was the reason for the raid); who was scared; and who did what he thought he had to do to protect himself and his daughter.

Below, some photos, culled from my several trips to Mississippi. Post resumes after.

When we visited yesterday, Dorothy had just spoken with Cory on the phone. When she told him we were coming, Cory asked her to make sure we were well fed with southern cooking. So she fixed us up a feast of Cory’s favorites: barbecue chicken, smothered cabbage, cornbread, shrimp stir-fry, and rice with gravy. I was full for a day-and-a-half.Dorothy then gave us a tour of her home, the house where Cory grew up. It’s a single-story, humble but well-kept ranch house. There’s a light woods to the back, and a bright green cattle pasture across the street to the front. The property is surrounded by long fences, sad old barns and abandoned properties, and winding gravel roads. The backyard is home to two ponies and three dogs, including one scraggly, war-torn mutt that had just given birth to a litter of six fluffy black puppies. The house has two bedrooms, a living room, and a bright, red and green kitchen. An aging, cast-iron wood-burner warms the place during Mississippi’s short and mild winters.

Dorothy then showed me the woods behind the house where Cory shot at rabbits and raccoons while growing up; the stove and grill where he learned to cook; and the pictures of Cory growing up that she keeps on the wall. Dorothy had initially kept Cory’s childhood room intact, “hoping against hope,” she says, that he’d be home from prison in short time to sleep in his bed again. But she eventually had to pack up Cory’s things and put them away. When Cory Jr. would visit, he’d immediately go back to his daddy’s old room, see Cory’s bed and his belongings, and start to cry. Dorothy keeps some shoes and old clothes in the room now. She says she didn’t want to move Cory’s things, but she also didn’t want her grandson associating visits to her home with tears, sadness, and missing his daddy.I received a letter from Cory last week. He’s trying to settle in to his new surroundings. He’s now at Unit 32 at Parchman Penitentiary, the hardest-knock wing of one of the hardest-knock prisons in the country. It’s the highest-security wing in the prison, save for Death Row. When it comes to living conditions, it’s likely worse. Lately, Unit 32 has had problems with rioting. There have been three inmate murders in the last two years. In a 2005 complaint, the ACLU described Unit 32 like this:

…profound isolation and unrelieved idleness; pervasive filth and stench; malfunctioning plumbing and constant exposure to human excrement … grossly inadequate medical, mental health and dental care; the routine use by security staff of excessive force; and the constant pandemonium, night and day, of severely mentally ill prisoners screaming, raving and hallucinating in nearby cells.”

This is Cory’s home, now.

Even after his death sentence was tossed in the fall of 2006, Cory requested to remain on Death Row. He was isolated there. He could stay in his cell and read and watch TV. When I asked him about Death Row in September 2006, he actually said he had no complaints (though Bob Evans, Cory’s chief counsel, says he rarely complains about much of anything). He didn’t need to fear for his safety there—about getting beaten or raped. Cory’s a shy, gentle guy. It’s hard to see him thriving in the general population of a high-security prison unit. So he remained on Death Row until last month, when he received his new sentence, life without parole. He’ll now need to learn to live in the general population, with Mississippi’s worst of the worst.

Cory’s still isolated for now, which he says is common for newcomers to gen-pop at Parchman. He just enrolled in a GED program. And he’s hoping to land a job in the prison kitchen, so he’ll be able to cook again. In spite of the circumstances, the letter seemed upbeat. Dorothy said he told her he’s disappointed that the guards won’t let him wash his own clothes, as he’d grown accustomed to doing on Death Row. In Unit 32, he says, his clothes come back from the laundry dirtier than they were when he sent them away.

I’m back in Virginia now, from what was a pretty emotionally draining trip. I’ve other stories to work on until the next hearing or development in Cory’s case. For Cory, Dorothy, Melissa, T’corrianna, Little Cory and everyone else affected by Cory’s incarceration, there’s no plane to board that’ll drop them into another life. They wake, eat, breathe, and, when they can, sleep (when they can) with this stuff—with the continuing fallout from that raid six years ago.

The family of Ron Jones won’t ever get away from it, either. I’m sure that as the anniversary of the raid approaches, as the holidays near, the Jones family’s pain will again grow starker and harsher and harder to handle. We also visited the memorial to Jones in front of the Prentiss city hall while we were in Mississippi last week. The afternoon was sunny, but brisk and windy. Jones’ polished, stone slab memorial rises from the sidewalk like a headstone, framed by the entrance to the building that houses the mayor’s office and the police and fire departments. Strongly as I’ve advocated for Cory’s innocence, there is of course no mistaking the tragedy of Jones’ death, too. That, incidentally, is always something Cory always emphasizes and expresses his sorrow for in his letters. Still today, he refers to Jones as “Mister Ron,” a term of respect and affection. I sat near Jones’ parents both days of the 2006 hearing in Poplarville. Their pain was obvious. I’m sure this has all been agonizing for them, as will the coming years, particularly if things go as I and Cory’s supporters hope they will. There were two tragedies, here. That’s unfortunate. What’s even more unfortunate is that one of them can be undone, at least partially, but not without making things worse for the people still hurting from the other one.

Much of my trip centered around the people affected by Cory’s incarceration. But there was a moment of pronounced solemnity while standing front of Jones’ memorial. Downtown Prentiss isn’t a terribly busy place. All was quiet while we stood there—only wind lapping at the U.S. and Mississippi flags ten feet or so above the memorial. My thoughts drifted to a particular part of the hearing last fall when Jones’ death was recounted in testimony. I saw Jones’ mother’s head fall, her eyes close tight, and her thumb and forefinger pinch at the bridge of her nose.

If there’s something particularly cruel about Cory’s act in defense of his daughter that night leading to him now being increasingly separated from her, there’s also unfortunate irony in Jones’ death. My reporting indicates that Jones was a one of the few police officers trusted and respected by nearly everyone in Prentiss, black and white. Over and over, blacks in Jefferson Davis County have told me of Jones, “He was a friend,” or, “He was one of the good ones.” I should add, here, that I think Jones took some shortcuts that night. And those shortcuts are in part to blame for what happened. But after talking to lots of people in Prentiss and Jeff Davis County, I’m also convinced Jones was a good guy doing what he thought was good police work. There was nothing malevolent about him. In an area of the country where black people are particularly wary of white cops, Jones was respected—nearly beloved. Bob Evans says that knowing what he knows of Jones, had it been any other officer killed that night, he believes Jones would have been an advocate for Cory Maye.

One of the people I spoke to during my visit two years ago is Linda Shoemaker, who runs the Prentiss tobacco shop. Shoemaker’s a white woman, middle-aged, and was described by many to me as the town’s unofficial historian. She knows everything that happens—judging from my time there, likely because nearly everyone in town stops by her shop to buy tobacco. Shoemaker knew Ron Jones well, for most of his life, and was quite fond of him. But she’s also one of the few white people in the area who doesn’t believe Cory ought to be in prison. I still have a quote from her in my notes from two years ago. “If somebody every broke in on me and my grandbabies…” She then paused. Her eyes filled with tears and she glanced upward. “Forgive me for saying this, Ron,” she said. “You know I love you. But if anybody broke in on me and my grandbabies at night, I’d have done the same thing Cory Maye did.”

You have one man taken from his family, in the prime of his life. You have another man, also taken from his family, now losing the prime of his life. You have a son taken from his mother and father. And you have a loving father being taken from his son and daughter.

Thank this war. The goddamned drug war. It is so incredibly senseless and stupid. And it’ll continue to claim and ruin lives, because too few politicians have the backbone to stand up and say after 30 years, $500 billion, a horrifyingly high prison population, and countless dead innocents, cops, kids, nonviolent offenders, decimated neighborhoods, wasted lives, corrupted cops, and eviscerations of the core freedoms this country was allegedly founded upon, the shit isn’t working. It’ll never work. It never has. It’s a testament to the facade of truth that is politics that no leaders from the two majors parties have in thirty years been able to say this. That maybe, just maybe, we’re doing it wrong. Maybe, just maybe, kicking down doors in the middle of the night and storming in with guns in order to stop people from getting high….isn’t such a good idea. Maybe, just maybe, the idea getting tips from racist, illiterate, drug-addicted informants about which doors, if you kick them down, will lead to drugs? Well maybe that isn’t such a sound policy, either. We can’t even get one of the leading candidates for president to say that. The safe position is always to advocate for more money, more government power, more militarism—and less freedom, less common sense, and less worry about collateral damage. Sensibility, honesty, or compassion? Too risky.

Incidentally, the whole no-knock, door-kicking, middle-of-the-night-storming stuff wasn’t the result of trial-and-error police tactics. It wasn’t suggested to policymakers by academic criminologists with years of experience studying best practice police tactics, either. It wasn’t even something police were particularly interested in at the time. If you read the book Smoke and Mirrors, journalist Dan Baum’s terrific history of the drug war, the sad fact of the matter is, the “no-knock raid” was a concept dreamed up in the late 1960s by political strategists working for the Nixon campaign.

That’s right. This map comes courtesy of a bunch of political hacks who knew very little about actual police procedures or criminal justice. But they did know a little something about winning elections. The no-knock raid was one of several get-tough-on-crime policies they thought would win over white suburban voters. They wanted to implement it in Washington D.C., the one urban area over which Congress had the power to directly implement criminal justice policy. What tougher crime policy could there be than to let narcotics cops bust down the doors of suspected drug users and distributors? These were voters who’d mostly only seen D.C. on TV, but they were voters Nixonians (correctly) anticipated were fed up with seeing evening news reports of black people rioting in the streets, and hippies smoking dope on the National Mall.

The plan worked. Nixon won, and his crime platform and appeal to the “silent majority” had a lot to do with it. By 1972, he’d initiated the modern “war on drugs.” Wars of course mean combat. And so door-busting narcotics raids took off 1970s, then exploded in the 1980s with the rise of SWAT teams.

I’m not a huge fan of conservative political theorist Richard Weaver. But he was certainly right about one thing: Ideas have consequences. The door-bashing drug raid—an untested, unstudied, get-tough-on-crime political tactic dreamed up not by guys in badges but by party animals in tailored suits—has had some very real consequences. One of those consequences can be seen in the memorial outside the Prentiss, Mississippi city hall, which marks the too-early death of good cop. T’a’Corianna Longino and Cory Maye, Jr. are also consequences of that idea dreamed up three decades before they were born. Just two more black kids who, if the state of Mississippi has its way, will spend the rest of their lives without a father. In this case, that’s despite the fact that they have a father who loves them, and desperately wants to be a part of their lives.

I’ll leave you with the message from the Thanksgiving card Cory sent to Ta’Corianna this year. A bit of context: Cory had hoped to see his daughter last month, when he was allowed out of Parchman for his re-sentencing hearing. Unfortunately, Ta’Corianna’s aunt got lost on the way to the courthouse. The hearing was over and Cory had been moved back to Parchman by the time they figured out where they were, and how to get to the courthouse. Cory writes:

Ta’Corianna,

Hi baby! I know we didn’t get a chance to see each other while I was down for court. Hope you’re doing well, cause I think of you each day. You’re always within my heart & prayers. You & I have a lot of thinks to talk about & time to make up for.

We’ll be together soon if it’s the Lord’s Will. He’s been protecting us & making sure we stay strong for one another. So I’m sure he’ll send me home to you one day. Just try not to worry.

I know it’s been hard at times, but just try to do what I do. I look at your pictures & think happy thoughts, where all of this will be behind us. We’ll be fishing at the lake. Yeah, daddy’s going to take his little girl fishing at the lake. We’ll have a picnic, and we’ll talk until the sun goes down. Maybe we’ll have some ice cream, too. If we can keep it from melting.

Take care and stay sweet. I love you more than life and words can say. Happy Thanksgiving!

Love always,

Cory J. Maye.
Daddy.

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74 Responses to “From Mississippi”

  1. #1 |  matt | 

    I’m no fan of Russell Kirk either, but it was Richard Weaver who wrote the book “Ideas Have Consequences.” And I’m even less a fan of Weaver’s than I am of Kirks.

    Keep up the good work regarding Maye and over-zealous police tactics.

  2. #2 |  Radley Balko | 

    Thanks. Been a while since I read up on my righty political theory.

  3. #3 |  anne | 

    I wish that every American voter would read this story. Well done – you are not only one of the finest journalists working today, but you are also a masterful storyteller. I wish everyone would read this and not only weep for the families that have gone through hell, but understand that the War on Drugs was as ill conceived as Prohibition, and should be ended without delay.

  4. #4 |  Roach | 

    Honestly, I think you’re doing a good thing in this case, and you present a compelling argument with a great deal of passion.

    But a “no knock” warrant could and does happen when cops are looking for armed robbers, murderers, arsonists, etc. In other words, bad police tactics and the drug war are mutually exclusive issues. You can imagine (and easily find) examples of careless police work searching for violent offenders, just as you can find scrupulous tactics in the drug war.

    Plus, our violent crime as gone down considerably in the last ten years as incarcerations have gone up. Surely lots of violent people, who can’t easily be convicted of robbery, are doing years and years and years on drug charges. It’s like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. Now, are there many mules in this imperfect net? Undboutedly. But they’re not “innocent victims,” rather they’re knowing criminals who are being over-punished, not the worst situation on earth.

    Most illegal drugs are bad. Do you agree? They hurt people’s lives and destroy neighborhoods not because they’re illegal but because they ruin minds and motivation among people who already lack much motivation and discipline. The usual analogy is “alcohol,” but even its record is mixed. It should be legal, I believe, but I can’t deny it causes a lot of misery, violence, bad driving, etc. Drugs are much more powerful. Let’s not be pollyanish, and let’s not pretend that the drug war doesn’t exist for one main reason: most people don’t like drugs, they don’t like what it does to their family members and neighborhoods, and they don’t like the violent thuggish people involved in the drug trade. We know these rude and violent corn-rowed, gold-teeth guys with pants around their ankles aren’t getting MBAs if drugs are legalized; so we’d just as soon seen them incarcerated a long time on mandatory minimums. They’re social trash, and the drug war let’s us take them to the dump.

    I genuinely feel for Corey Maye. Lots of people ask me “how can you defend criminals who you know are guilty?” But, honestly, that’s a lot easier than the case of a truly innocent person, which is rare, but gut-renching and stressful. So I commend you. But I also think that this case says almost nothing about the drug war. “No knock” warrants on the right house are exactly the right tactic since the sainted drug dealing population has a bad habit of flushing evidence down the toilet and shooting cops when they do knock.

  5. #5 |  Whiskey | 

    Roach:

    man these violent corn-rowed gold-teeth guys with their pants around their ankles and their grape soda and fried chicken and rap music we ought to ship them to prison, or possibly africa

    and let’s not be pollyanish, the violent thugs at Anheuser Busch and Philip Morris have gotten away with their violent thuggery for far too long

  6. #6 |  Zeb | 

    No, most drugs are not bad. Drugs are not good or bad. Cocaine is an excellent local anesthetic and a fairly harmless stimulant in low doses. Heroin is an effective pain killer. Methamphetamine helps some children with ADHD.

  7. #7 |  crack | 

    You know, the tragic events surrounding Sean Taylor’s death have some pertinence here. Someone broke in and killed him. It is possible that if he had a gun he’d have shot one of the intruders. Cory had a gun and enough lead time to get it ready. People’s houses do get broken into by criminals and, as the Taylor incident showed, people die at the hands of these criminals. Shooting an intruder is not an unreasonable response.

  8. #8 |  Christoph | 

    Keep following this story. It’s worthwhile.

  9. #9 |  Jack | 

    That letter from Corey brought tears to my eyes.

  10. #10 |  parse | 

    He’ll now have to learn to live in the general population, with Mississippi’s worst of the worst.

    It’s a small thing, but I wish you wouldn’t adopt this rhetoric. The people in prison in Mississippi are not necessarily the worst people in the state, and the people within prison punished for not conforming to that institutions rules are not necessarily the worst people incarcerated.

  11. #11 |  Billy Beck | 

    Roach: “Drugs are much more powerful.”

    I think I’d like to see you state your experience with this.

    I’m not talking about what you’ve heard. I’d like to know what you know.

  12. #12 |  Bronwyn | 

    I need to finish reading so I can get serious, but…

    a massive catfish restaurant with an always-bustling parking lot; a crazy fundamentalist’s property with Bible verses and admonitions against smoking, drinking, and molesting babies tacked to the trees

    Do you mean Catfish Charlie’s? Been there, done that, and yes, I have the t-shirt.

    And I think I know the fundy property you’re talking about, too. It’s a really weird compound full of really weird people.

    /My aunt and uncle live in Jackson and I have an ex who lives in Saucier (right by Hattiesburg). I’ve spent far too much time driving those very same roads.

    … ok, back to the piece

  13. #13 |  Bronwyn | 

    Ah. Different compound. Scary that there are two O_o

  14. #14 |  Bronwyn | 

    Radley, I’m confused. The last letter I received from Cory, right before Thanksgiving, he was at CMCF in Pearl for reclassification…

    Greetings! I pray this letter reach you in the best of health & spirit. Well I’m no longer in Parchman on death row. However I think where I’m at the conditions are far worst. I’m locked down behind a solid steel door. The silence is somewhat depressing. If I don’t get something to read soon I might loose my mind.

    I’m trying to ride the waves and stay on top of my mental state. Writing you this letter will only help until I reach the end of this letter. I don’t have many stamps so I’ve gotta wait a week or two to make canteen. Plus I read in the handbook they may hold me here 6 months to a year, until I come up for reclassification. Surely without something to read I’ll be crazier than a rabid dog. I guess it’s going to take a lot of meditation trying to stay clear minded in this hole…”

    Perhaps your latest letter just predates mine, or his time there was more temporary that we thought

    Anyway, I’m keeping all his letters and will share them with you when you need them and if Cory gives the nod.

    I didn’t realize Ta’Corrianna had moved so far away. All the more heartbreaking.

  15. #15 |  Bronwyn | 

    My deep apologies for that double post. Please delete the first one, if you can.

  16. #16 |  Cat | 

    Prayers for Cory Maye and his family.

    vote this up on Digg if you have a moment. Everyone in the country needs to read it.
    http://digg.com/political_opinion/From_Mississippi

  17. #17 |  Roach | 

    I don’t have personal experience with hard drugs. I do drink. I’ve met a few junkies and recovering junkies. It sounds a lot more powerful than alcohol, not least because the normal and OD doses are so much closer to one another, especially with opiates. But I guess I don’t have enough street knowledge for the libertarians, but then again I’ve never robbed or raped or murdered either but I know those are bad things, and that’s roughly the order in which they are bad.

    As for the apologist for the prison population, actually they pretty bad, but Corey will be OK. It’s skinny white boys who get raped in prison by blacks, mostly.

  18. #18 |  Les | 

    It’s skinny white boys who get raped in prison by blacks, mostly.

    Roach, I hope you can provide a link to support this claim or be man enough to admit you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    And if heroin was legally sold in measured units, even fewer people would die from it than already do (far, far fewer than from alcohol, or cigarettes, or legally prescribed drugs).

    You might be perfectly pleased to give your body to the government so that it can tell you what you can and can’t do to it (lucky for you that you’re allowed to damage your body with alcohol, but not with inherently safer drugs), but many people (including the Founding Fathers), would have thought that notion to be downright un-American.

  19. #19 |  Les | 

    Radley, I can’t thank you enough for your work. I’m glad you’re so young so that we can count on you to give the authoritarians and statists hell for many years to come.

    Truly, do you rock.

  20. #20 |  Zeb | 

    Having known a number of serious opiate addicts and alcoholics both, I would say the addictions are pretty comparable in severity. I have known more junkies who have (so far) successfully quit than alcoholics. If I were to classify alcohol based on its effects on those who abuse it, I would call it a hard drug rather than a soft drug or a non-drug.

  21. #21 |  Radley Balko | 

    Roach,

    You’re a smart, well-read guy. I think you often make valuable contributions on the issues I cover, even if I don’t usually agree with you.

    But cut the racist shit. You’ve already been banned from other websites for crossing the line. Just warning you, I have very low tolerance for it here.

  22. #22 |  Roach | 

    Source: Human Rights Watch, hardly a bastion of conservative thinking or realism on race issues.

    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/prison/report4.html

    “The elements of race and ethnicity have a complex and significant bearing on the problem of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse. As previously discussed, racial and ethnic distinctions are nowhere more salient than they are in prison: all social interaction is refracted through the prism of these group differences. Inter-racial sexual abuse is common only to the extent that it involves white non-Hispanic prisoners being abused by African Americans or Hispanics. In contrast, African American and Hispanic inmates are much less frequently abused by members of other racial or ethnic groups; instead, sexual abuse tends to occur only within these groups.”

    It’s pretty bad stuff, but we’re not supposed to talk about it, so please, go back to the Cosby Show, MTV’s Real World, and wherever else it is you all learn about how things work.

    PS I have a very close friend in NA; I can’t say drugs are better or worse than alcohol, but they seem to make people more screwed up more quickly in smaller doses, with the possible exception of marijuana. And the fact that we tolerate some vices and not others, doesn’t mean we should tolerate all equally.

  23. #23 |  Roach | 

    I am undoubtedly blunt, Radley. But would you tell me what’s wrong with my summation of the HRW report above. Is it not true? Are my facts wrong? Is it not right to recognize that some urban, mostly minority though many white, drug dealers, dress funny and have bad values in other areas of life unrelated to breaking the drug laws, i.e., other crime, particularly violent crime, a thuggish culture, etc. Is this not what most people, including decent law-abiding black people, see every day.

    I didn’t mean to imply your friend would rape anyone; I don’t think he’s a violent or bad person from everything you’ve sad. I only meant it’s highly unlikely he’ll be victimized by rape, thank God for him, based on the way things actually are in prison.

  24. #24 |  Les | 

    Roach, your reference is only talking about “inter-racial sexual abuse.” It doesn’t say anything that could possibly lead a thinking person to conclude that, as you put it,

    It’s skinny white boys who get raped in prison by blacks, mostly.

    So, how about manning up and admitting you don’t have any idea who “mostly” is getting raped in prison?

    And the fact that we tolerate some vices and not others, doesn’t mean we should tolerate all equally.

    Again, it’s fine that you are happy to let the government act like your mother and arbitrarily decide what you can and can’t do to your own body, but that doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t be able to reject such coddling and live independent lives.

  25. #25 |  Cheerful Iconoclast | 

    Roach, I think you’re partially right in two respects. First, many drugs are indeed harmful, and legalization would probably result in some increased use, at least in the short term. And, second, you’re right that police sometimes use no-knock raids in cases of murder, arson, burglary, etc.

    However, that does not mean that the war-on-drugs and no-knock raids aren’t related issues. They are related because enforcement of drug laws means banning a particular category of objects, and searches for those objects are a necessary adjunct to enforcement of the laws. Furthermore, drugs, unlike burglary tools and most murder weapons, lend themselves to being flushed down the toilet. Eliminating drug prohibition wouldn’t eliminate the need for no knock raids completely, but it would certainly reduce the number of such raids rather dramatically.

  26. #26 |  Les | 

    I only meant it’s highly unlikely he’ll be victimized by rape, thank God for him, based on the way things actually are in prison.

    Again, the piece of the report you cited only talks about inter-racial sexual abuse. It goes on to say that blacks do rape blacks and Hispanics rape Hispanics. So, you really ought to re-think this subject before making baseless statements.

  27. #27 |  Garrett J | 

    Radley, you are the saint of the anti-drug war, anti-prohibition movement. I think libertarians and free market defenders struggle at times to get their message across because our arguments can come across as this macro level, theoretical posturing that leaves out personal and emotional touches. You do a wonderful job of putting a real human face on the theoretical and letting people know the real life tragedies that result from these horrible policies.

    I just really have to give you a personal, heart felt thank you for all the good work you’re doing. Maybe someday Hollywood will make the Radley Balco movie.

    The sad thing is, it’s hard to get people to care and even harder to get people to realize the problem for what it really is. Roach has posted twice here so far, showing some sympathy for Cory Maye while also making thinly veiled racist comments about the violent nature of drug criminals. Roach, you miss the oh-so important point that drug prohibition creates the violence of the drug trade. Eliminate the black market and you eliminate the black market violence – no more kids gunned down in drug shoot outs and no more innocent victims of wrong door (or even right door) no-knock drug raids. The issue of no-knock raids is unalterably tied to the war on drugs because as Radley has documented, there seems to be an overwhelming number of cases in which no-knock raids are utilized against non-violent drug offenders. Quite correctly so, Radley has attempted time and time again to frame this not as a problem of a few bad eggs or a few bungled mistakes but as a real institutional problem that we as a society need to examine more thoughtfully.

  28. #28 |  Roach | 

    Les, what can I say: read the whole report. As far as disproportion and all that, I can’t say, other than most victims are samll, effeminate, and only whites are victimized within and across racial cohorts. There is also significant and horrifying anecdotal data in that report.

    As for the “black market makes them do it” argument, I don’t by it, at least not completely. I concede some violence occurs for this reason that would not otherwise occur. But I would say more drug use would lead to more violence because of people who are made more aggressive by certain drugs, i.e., PCP and Cocaine. In addition, it’s not like these drug-dealers with low IQs, HS dropouts, criminal records, and, quite literally, gold teeth, corn rows, and a real commitment to getting rich quick will be model citizens. Take, by way of example, the transformation of the Mafia after the end of prohibition. It moved into other rackets, including extorting money from legitimate businesses like garments, restaurants, import-export, etc. Plus the traditional prostitution and other rackets remained. Just alcohol disappeared. These guys will find something else criminal to do; they have no patience for 9-5 jobs. It’s utopian to assume they’d all go and work at the Gap or whatever if the drug trade were not available. The Gap won’t let you buy an Escalade, robbing banks and dealing drugs and commercial kidnapping will.

  29. #29 |  Whiskey | 

    LITERALLY GOLD TEEF AND CORN ROWS AND MALT LICKAH AND THEY DRAWERS HANGIN OUT

  30. #30 |  Whiskey | 

    Also they want to have sex with your daughter.

  31. #31 |  Whiskey | 

    Man and remember when Anheuser Busch and SABMiller got into a turf war?

  32. #32 |  Jeremy | 

    This sounds like heart-breaking reporting, Radley. But I’m glad you’re doing it. Thank you so much for sticking with this case and keeping the world posted on the guys that “policies” run over. Make sure Cory knows we’re all thinking of him still.

  33. #33 |  Les | 

    Roach, I read the report and it says that young, skinny white guys get raped by white guys and non-white guys, and that young, skinny black guys get raped by black guys, while young, skinny latinos get raped by latinos. It also says that homosexuals get raped more than any other group.

    You wrote:

    …but Corey will be OK. It’s skinny white boys who get raped in prison by blacks, mostly.

    The report doesn’t say that most rape in prison is of skinny, white boys by blacks. And there’s absolutely nothing in the report that you can cite that can justify your assertion that “Corey will be OK.” You simply don’t know that.

  34. #34 |  Bronwyn | 

    HS dropout… quite literally, gold teeth, corn rows, and a real commitment to getting rich quick

    Although none of these are my style or part of my personal history, I don’t think anyone could coherently (or convincingly) argue that any of these things are inherently bad. They’re certainly not indications of criminality.

    Roach, with these words you nullified any value your argument may have had.

  35. #35 |  Roach | 

    Brownwyn, those accoutrements are A OK and a symbol of success as evidenced by their proliferation among traders at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Give me a break. This value judgment is a very good one, as those things are indicators of someone who is immature, materialistic, and part of the thuggish anti-social culture of the ghetto.

    As for the report, it notes that whites as a group don’t stick together in prison, that whites are perceived as weak and gay as a group. It’s true some blacks and Latinos are individually perceived that way, but the overall tone is one where small white guys are getting raped constantly, mostly by minority perpetrators, and that whites don’t stick together to defend their group. As for the exact numbers breakdown, I don’t know. But it’s not exactly a controversial description of prison life to note that most of the punks are young, small, white guys.

    As for Maye, he’s a pretty big guy and he’s not white, which is why I figured he’d be OK.

    Why do you liberals and libertarians deny basic common sense stuff known by anyone but upper middle class liberal whites? I mean, you can’t really mean what you say. It’s not like you’re all clamoring to live in the ghetto or hire some guy with gold teeth to join your law firms and consulting firms and all that. It’s not like you have any doubt who you need to be fearful of in prison or at the ATM machine. Even Bill Cosby and Jesse Jackson acknowledge this reality. You simply get some weird sense of moral superiority playing hyper-skeptic when any generalization about a minority racial, ethnic, or other group is involved. Of course, you can generalize about the evil drug war and the evil cops all day long, even though there are many good cops and bad drug dealers and totally uneventful arrests as a consequence of the drug war. It’s one standard for race and quite another for everything else. It’s simply not credible.

    Do you think black cab drivers from Nigeria don’t pick up black African-Americans at night because they’re ignorant? Racist? Irrational?

  36. #36 |  Steve Finlay | 

    Roach, you don’t fully understand the basic dynamics of prohibition. Contrary to what one would assume at first sight, it does NOT reduce or prevent use of whatever is prohibited. It might do so for a very short time, but usage soon goes right back up, as happened in the 20’s for alcohol. Not only that, but the need to conceal the prohibited stuff causes producers to switch to more concentrated, more dangerous formulations. Prohibition in the 20’s turned the USA from beer to hard liquor, and American drinkers have taken GENERATIONS to go back to the milder stuff.

    Prohibition absolutely does not stop trade in the prohibited product. It merely grants a monopoly to criminals, and it is a monopoly that gives them very high profits in a very short time. You argue that if they don’t have prohibited drugs to profit from, they will do something else, and therefore we should keep giving them their golden monopoly over drugs. This is like arguing that if terrorists can’t carry machine guns onto planes, they will carry nail scissors, and therefore we should keep letting them carry machine guns. Sure, the criminals can look for other businesses — but nothing else has anywhere near the sheer money-making power of drugs. The end of alcohol prohibition drastically weakened organized crime in the 20s, and the end of drug prohibition will do the same.

    Contrary to your argument, the violence that people think is “drug-related” is actually prohibition-related. Ask the cops and prosecutors at LEAP (www.leap.cc): They know from being on the front lines that the violence comes from fighting over the drug business, not from being “high” on the drugs themselves. About the only drug which consistently makes users prone to violence is — you guessed it — alcohol. There are two good reasons why prohibition causes violence: First, it makes it impossible to resolve trade disputes by legal means, leaving violence as the only available approach. Second, it reserves the trade for criminals — that is, people who are not likely to be averse to violence. And the more aggressively prohibition is enforced, the more violent a criminal has to be in order to remain in the business.

    Your analogy of Al Capone is exactly right, but not for the reason you think. The reality is that alcohol did not create Al Capone; alcohol prohibition created Al Capone. Sure, he was caught for something other than the violent crimes that he should have been caught for. But prohibition was the only thing that gave him the power and the money to commit so many of those crimes in the first place.

  37. #37 |  Roach | 

    Les, did you read this part of the report; I think it’s really all I can say on the matter, though I think this is a national mark of shame, far worse than voluntary criminals getting to jail for doing crimes. People shoudl do their time; they shouldn’t be tortured by the worst-of-the-worst people in jail:

    “Past studies have documented the prevalence of black on white sexual aggression in prison.(213) These findings are further confirmed by Human Rights Watch’s own research. Overall, our correspondence and interviews with white, black, and Hispanic inmates convince us that white inmates are disproportionately targeted for abuse.(214) Although many whites reported being raped by white inmates, black on white abuse appears to be more common. To a much lesser extent, non-Hispanic whites also reported being victimized by Hispanic inmates.”

  38. #38 |  lunchstealer | 

    Roach –

    In contrast, African American and Hispanic inmates are much less frequently abused by members of other racial or ethnic groups; instead, sexual abuse tends to occur only within these groups.

    The report, as quoted, doesn’t seem to say much about what percentage of sexual abuse in prison is inter-racial. It does say that inter-racial abuse tends to target whites, but it also states clearly that the majority of black and hispanic rape victims are victims of blacks or hispanics respectively. This doesn’t mean that only white guys get raped. Corey isn’t safe from black sexual abusers, and he’s only statistically safe from white abusers.

  39. #39 |  Les | 

    As for the exact numbers breakdown, I don’t know.

    I think you meant to say, “I don’t care.”

    But it’s not exactly a controversial description of prison life to note that most of the punks are young, small, white guys.

    Ah, yes, there you go. You don’t care what the numbers are.

    Of course, you can generalize about the evil drug war and the evil cops all day long, even though there are many good cops and bad drug dealers and totally uneventful arrests as a consequence of the drug war. It’s one standard for race and quite another for everything else. It’s simply not credible.

    It’s easy to generalize about “the evil drug war,” because it is evil. The only people who think it isn’t are those who are so devoted to the authority of the government that they think it’s fine for it to tell citizens what they can do with their own bodies. I think that using force to prevent someone from doing something to their own body in the privacy of their own home is evil. Statists and leftists believe otherwise.

    No one here has ever argued that there are no good cops or that there are no bad drug dealers. The difference is that we don’t pay the salaries of bad drug dealers, but we regularly pay the salaries of bad cops with bad ideas who do bad things.

  40. #40 |  Whiskey | 

    Roach, do you have a genetic predisposition towards illiteracy, or is it carefully maintained through years of purposeful neglect? It’s the old nature vs. nurture question, I suppose, but I am honestly curious.

  41. #41 |  Les | 

    Roach, just because whites are disproportionately targeted for abuse by blacks doesn’t mean that most rape in prison is black-on-white. You have to figure in the racial make-up of the prison system.

    And you really don’t see a connection between this problem and the fact that so many people in prison are there for non-violent drug offenses? You don’t think the government would be better able to control its prison population if it wasn’t over crowding prisons with people who are there for simply using or selling politically incorrect drugs?

  42. #42 |  Ruud | 

    Roach, your generalizations are divisive, while most made in this forum tend to at least attempt to bring people together in the advancement of liberty.

    And to answer your question, a Nigerian doesn’t pick up an black African-American at night because they’d prefer to weigh prejudices more than their economic success. I have no problem with that; rival cabbies will gladly pick up the extra fare.

  43. #43 |  Ruud | 

    “It’s not like you have any doubt who you need to be fearful of in prison or at the ATM machine.” – Disgusting.

    It’s shocking that you would have a link on your blog that reveals your real name. The standard cyber-biggot typically hides his identity or at least has nothing to lose. I hope that the African-American partner at your firm doesn’t read Radley. Yikes!

    But at least you know better than to leave money in your desk or leave your office door unlocked when they’re around, right?

    Maybe you should be advocating privacy instead of spreading your vitriol.

  44. #44 |  Steve Finlay | 

    I didn’t notice that “it’s not like you have any doubt” comment.

    Several years ago, I was in Toronto on a business trip, and I visited my brother one evening. He lived in one of the worst parts of the entire city. I left his place about 1 am to catch the all-night streetcar back to downtown.

    As I was waiting alone at the streetcar stop, a group of three black men came to the stop. They were talking animatedly in a language which wasn’t anywhere close to any of the five which I know. They paid no attention whatsoever to me. I waited. They talked. We waited.

    According to Roach, I should have been fearful, right? It’s the dead of night, and I’m in the middle of a seriously crappy part of town, and I should have no doubt that I can be fearful of these guys. Right?

    Wrong.

    After about 45 minutes, there wasn’t any doubt that the streetcar line was not working. At least three cars passed going the other way, but none in our direction. So I suggested to these guys that we should split a cab, and asked how far they were going. (These were the first words of English spoken in the past hour or so.) Their destination was on the way to my hotel, so we had a deal.

    I caught the next cab, we got in, they got out at their stop and handed me half the fare, I got out at my hotel and paid the rest.

    I’ll be afraid of people when I have a reason. The colour of their skin isn’t it.

  45. #45 |  Alex | 

    Radley, I can honestly say that was the most moving blog entry I’ve ever read before. I’ve been reading your blog regularly for over a year, and you really have a talent for putting a face on these policies. Also, the trees in your pictures are Longleaf Pines, more commonly referred to as Southern Pines. Many times I’ve driven through a tunnel of Southern Pines or seen them from a plane and instantly felt like I’m already home. Hopefully, Cory will have that feeling again one day.

    On a side note, I’m not sure the comments thing is working so well. This a is very diggable story. I can imagine Derb linking to the story on NRO, with the caveat that in the first ten comments there’s a guy who thinks ADD is treated with meth, a guy who thinks the prisoners in max security aren’t necessarily bad, and roach, who appears to be insane. And it goes downhill from there.

  46. #46 |  Leshrac | 

    Roach, I suspect that your interaction with junkies and addicts has addled your brain to a more likely reality. I suspect you have encountered far more recreational drug users than you know about. From the couple lines a month by weekend partiers to the weed a lot of people take the edge off with instead of a couple beers every other day, etc. Everyone has their thing, some people do healthier things, good for them. If your snappy opinions have left no room for casual conversation and opportunity in which to learn ya better I’m sure you’ve lost a lot of good people in your life rather than then them having themselves subjected to your obtuse view of making the world a better place. Ignorance is bliss is it not? More power to you.

  47. #47 |  Whiskey | 

    Alex, regarding methamphetamine and ADD:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desoxyn

  48. #48 |  Roach | 

    Steve, for the record, I love testimonials.

    And Les, I thought this was kind of a QED moment: “Overall, our correspondence and interviews with white, black, and Hispanic inmates convince us that white inmates are disproportionately targeted for abuse.”

  49. #49 |  miche | 

    Great piece. I’ve also been following this case as you work to help right a wrong and couldn’t stop the tears when I read Cory’s note to his daughter. This goddamned drug war indeed.

  50. #50 |  Larry Edelstein | 

    Roach, I think you’re using the excesses of politically correct discourse to justify your personal prejudices. You seem pretty bright and reasonable. Go and reexamine your beliefs.

    You think that “drugs are just more powerful” (than alcohol), and you clearly mean illegal drugs, yet you don’t cite any reasons that cannot easily be disentangled from prohibition itself. You don’t even bother to differentiate between the various substances. Rather, you invoke the spectre of a corn-rowed, gold-teethed, pant-ankled man. Forgive me for wondering here.

  51. #51 |  Alex | 

    Whiskey, I’m not going to get into this, so this will be my last post. Desoxyn is not normally prescribed to children (” Methamphetamine helps some children with ADHD.”) I’m sure it was been used with children is some extreme cases, but I have some familiarity with LD children, and I personally have never heard of it. A Desoxyn pill is 5mg, which is next to nothing for recreational use.

    Pointing out that illegal drugs can be used for good is ultimately pointless and childish. The drug epidemic isn’t about some someone sprinkling some cocaine on their gum before pulling their tooth, or getting shot and administering a heroin injection, or using extremely low doses of methamphetamine to treat serious mental health problems. “No, most drugs are not bad. Drugs are not good or bad.” This is the kind of relativistic nonsense that turns people off even if it isn’t representative of most people against the drug war.

    It is the position of The Agitator and most libertarians (myself included) that the drug war, especially in its current incarnation, is bad for many reasons, none of which are that smoking meth is a great idea. Tragedies like Cory Maye are excellent at making this point because everyone knows someone like Cory, a good guy who enjoys a joint every now and then. If everything about this story was the same except a couple grams of ice were found, reasonable people would instinctively know that there’s something wrong with him, even if you can cite a legitimate use for meth.

  52. #52 |  Rick | 

    Les your arguments are less supported by the report than Roach’s.

    You have three groups; White, Black, and Hispanic. Populations approximately average 40%, 40%, 20% nationally. Granted the ratios vary from place to place and you can’t say anything about a particular prison based on averaging data like this, but from my reading, this is what is implied.

    Population A mostly victimizes only population A.
    Population B victimizes B as well as A.
    Population C victimizes C as well as A.

    Knowing the ratio of the populations and assuming all other factors are roughly equal, population A will be victimized more than B or C.

    Therefore Roach’s assumption that Whites are raped more than Blacks or Hispanics is a reasonable assumption. By how much? You can’t know without specific data. Given the general assertions about proportions it must be significant.

    However, reports that do not sight numbers in statistical references are either for summary purposes or are trying to slant the statical evidence. In either case they are not worthy as support for an argument.

  53. #53 |  Rick | 

    Putting it simply, the constitution, as read my most reasonably intelligent people, prohibits the government from doing the things necessary to create prohibitions against any vice.

    Yet its done all the time, because if you look very closely, in between the lines, squint your eyes. It says it’s ok to ignore the constitution if your intentions are good.

    Uh, what road is paved with good intentions?

  54. #54 |  Roach | 

    To the last three commenters, thanks. “You’re a bad person for saying something” is not an argument. I think you all raise some good points. I think the math point is spot on, though the national percentages in the general population are more like 70 White 15 Black and 15 Hispanic, though jail populations are closer to 45 Black 30 White and 25 Hispanic.

    I hate using anecdotal data, but sometimes that’s all you got. I got interested in this issue when I read probably the saddest thing I ever read in my life, “The Punk Who Wouldn’t Shut Up.” The racial angle is not primary to this debate, other than I think inattention to this issue is a combination of a) general disregard for the rights of prisoners and b) the uncomfortable racaial politis of this issue. Earlier, I didn’t think it would be too controversial to say: lots of people that sell drugs are bad people for other reasons and that’s why it’s not the absolute end of the world for them to go to jail, even if one also acknowledges that as a general matter prohibition is more costly than beneficial. We needn’t romanticize dealers or their likely prospects if prohibition goes away. The question of “who is punished” and “are these good people” does matter to most people, and things like demeanor, attitude, dress, ambition, education, and all the rest go into that heuristic.

    Finally, it’s very different for me and most everyone when you’re dealing with strangers and people you know. There is no black lawyer (or any lawyer) that I really worry about as far as crime (though interestingly a redneck lawyer wanted to throw down one time in Beaumont). But on the street, I worry in general about young men, and then things like clothing, demeanor, “fit” and, yes, race go into the mix. I worry about young men more than old, men more than women, and black more than white. Are these unreasonable tools to use? There’s no reason to use these short-hand indicators when you’re dealing with someone you already know, but on the street people don’t walk around with their SAT scores and rap sheets stapled to their foreheads for a more thorough examination. We can only use what we see and what we already know about the facts given to us.

    The differences in criminality across these different critera–as in violent criminality–are very real and not really a subject of debate, and a quick perusal of the NCVS or BJS data or various compilations takes minutes.

    This fact of life among citizens and cops is clearly a cost on harmless and law-abiding black men. I acknowledge that, and I acknowledge it’s regrettable. It’s not fair to them, and when these heuristics cross some invisible line from being shorthand to blindness to the opposite extreme, I believe that should be stopped, particularly by law enforcement. (Since stop, arrest, and conviction data all converge, it does not suggest “over policing” of minorities.) But I’m not going to let some vague commitment to willfully blind egalitarianism when it comes to crime endanger my life or the life of a loved one. It happens every day because people are afraid to “cause offense.” Usually this manifests itself silently; I avoid certain neighborhoods, situations, bars, clubs, streets, and people. That’s it. As Jesse Jackson famously observed, when he turns around late at night on the street and sees white teenagers, he feels safer than when the faces are black. Surely, he’s not racist (at least not against blacks).

    As for this discussion, it matters as follows. It’s undeniable the drug war hits black men hard. But it’s also been endogenous with a drop in violent crime. Since blacks are roughly 8-10X more violent–according to NCVS/BJS stats–then there is likely some effect of this wide net on the general crime rate, and this may on balance be preferable. Ideally it would be tuned better, with harsher penalties for those with pre-existing violent offenses, or firearms, or other proxies for violence. I don’t know what price we can put on the avoided rapes, assaults, robberies, and murders that incarcerated drug offenders have not committed. But it’s far from zero, it has something to do with the racial composition of the incarcerated, and I believe this at least as a fact should not be particularly controversial.

  55. #55 |  Les | 

    Roach, I owe you an apology. According to the Bureau of Prisons, 40% of the prison population is black and 56.4 is white, making a “skinny white boy” statistically more likely to be raped than a black guy. You were right and I was wrong. I won’t be so sure of myself in the future until I’ve wrapped my head around some solid numbers.

    Of course, I’ll continue to feel sure of myself in regards to the immorality and impracticality of the war on drugs. There just aren’t any numbers that can justify imprisoning people for merely engaging in free-trade with politically incorrect substances.

    Unless you have another link, that is.

  56. #56 |  _Jon | 

    Radley – your dialog unfolds like a clip from a show like 20/20 or 60 minutes. I hope one of them picks it up. Ironic that as liberal as their host networks are, they would never permit the section on how bad the drug war is to be vocalized.

    As for Roach’s comments – it appears this comment thread has been hijacked by someone who is taking advantage of your bandwidth to preach his position. I’ve skipped most comments that have his name attached. As this post of yours (Radley) gets linked wider, Roach’s opining may get as much visibility as yours. And even though disclaimers make it clear they are his opinions, do you really want his opinions associated with yours? Is giving him a voice like this on your site – right next to such a good update on Corey, really in your best interest? Please start deleting.

    Thanks for continuing to work on Corey’s situation.

  57. #57 |  Greg | 

    That damn well brings me to tears. If only the people that back an actual killer like Mumia would listen to Cory’s tale and take up his cause.

    Well done, Radley.

  58. #58 |  clarenancy | 

    Beautifully written.

    You do good work for a worthy cause.

  59. #59 |  kynna | 

    I’m with everyone else who thanks you for your excellent reporting on this case. You’ve really done an amazing job and you are once again proving that bloggers often do much better, more thorough work than the MSM.

    That being said, it’s also one of the most frustrating experiences ever to read your posts. What can I do from California to help a man in Mississippi? I can’t stand reading about him and not being able to do something.

    You may have done a post about what your readers could do to help and I missed it. If so, I apologize. But if you haven’t perhaps you could do one — especially at this time of year when we’re all looking for ways to help those less fortunate — and the comment section would hopefully become a clearing-house for other good ideas to help those imprisoned unjustly.

    Thanks again for all you do.

  60. #60 |  Don Meaker | 

    The reason why white guys in jail get raped is because they tend to be the dumb ones that get caught.

    If a smart white guy was to choose a life of crime he would become a banker, a lawyer, or a politician.

  61. #61 |  Zeb | 

    Alex, you miss my point entirely. Someone had implied that most illegal drugs “are bad”. It is a ridiculous notion that any drug is bad in and of itself. Of course abuse of powerful drugs like opiates, amphetamines or cocaine is not good for you. Many people seem to think that methamphetamine has no legitimate use, instantly addicts all users and works like demonic possession. We will never get anywhere with prohibitionists unless most people stop thinking that drugs are inherently evil and look at the reality of how they are and can be used.

  62. #62 |  junyo | 

    “Since stop, arrest, and conviction data all converge, it does not suggest “over policing” of minorities…Since blacks are roughly 8-10X more violent–according to NCVS/BJS stats-then there is likely some effect of this wide net on the general crime rate, and this may on balance be preferable.”

    That would assume that all laws on the books are equitably prosecuted; i.e. the same percentages are plea bargined, dropped or won/lost. “Over policing” could easily be covered by your criteria by simply choosing to take most cases from suspect pool X to trial, or by the trial process being inherently skewed against suspect pool X. One would also have to assume that no other demographic correlations existed among the suspect groups, which is (pure speculation) unlikely. Not having seen the numbers, I’d wonder if the same convergence wouldn’t occur across economic lines. One think you’d tend to get a higher percentage of any group on the wrong side of the economic curve when one chooses to create a highly lucrative industry by artificially restricting supply of a highly demanded commodity, which is effectively what drugs laws do. And after criminalizing that activity to throw an inordinate percentage of your law enforcement and judicial system at those laws, as well as creating massive personal/professional incentives for the people in those systems to focus on those crimes, would further skew the data. Can objective, cut and dry conclusions really be pulled from the data?

    Above and beyond anything else is the question of whether race is a valid criteria for assumption as to behavior/level of threat.
    “…on the street, I worry in general about young men, and then things like clothing, demeanor, “fit” and, yes, race go into the mix. I worry about young men more than old, men more than women, and black more than white. Are these unreasonable tools to use?”
    Yeah, they are. And old white woman can shoot you dead just as easily as a young black man. A killer can smile or be nicely dressed just as easily as they can frown or wear baggy pants or sweats. A young man in average shape can be out run by a middle aged man in great shape. Nobody thinks the threat is a threat until it’s too late, otherwise nobody would ever be victimized. General stats and trends do nothing to inform you of the threat that any particular individual represents to you. The smartest course of action would simple be to assume that everyone equals a threat until proven otherwise. The only time ranking or prioritizing threats is an issue is if you’re addressing multiple targets and you need to figure out which one to address first.

    More than that, despite the attempt to make racism look like a purely rational response to data, the simple fact is you’re making a collectivist argument that it’s okay to knowingly violate the rights of some portion of the citizenry as long as society’s okay with the over/under. As long as everybody feels good about the theoretical and unquantifiable “avoided rapes, assaults, robberies, and murders” then the “cost on harmless and law-abiding black men” while regrettable, is a price you’re willing to pay. How magnanimous.

  63. #63 |  M. Simon | 

    ADD/ADHD is treated with stimulants. Meth is a stimulant.

    The use of meth may be a form of self treatment. Something rather out of fashion these days. The medical cartel has locked up drugs and worst of all minds.

    Roach, here are a few links to get you started on the self medication aspects of drug taking:

    Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

    Heroin

    PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

  64. #64 |  Thomas | 

    “And old white woman can shoot you dead just as easily as a young black man.”

    But she’s not as likely to, is she?

    If you refuse to make the kind of generalizations Roach makes, then your options are as follows:

    1. Treat everyone as an equally potential threat (which means that you basically just cower in your house, since the old ladies in the walking club at the mall are clearly just as dangerous as the corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted dudes standing on the corner in a neighborhood where lots of similar people live); or

    2. Treat nobody as a potential threat, meaning that you go to an ATM in a sketchy neighborhood, taking no more precautions than you would in a mall.

  65. #65 |  Ryan Waxx | 

    Purest rhetoric.

    Every single ‘point’ the author makes could equally well be made about a vast array of other murders. Surely, it is the first time a person chose to hide from the police in his daughter’s room? I don’t think so. The first time a killer surrendured with bullets left in his gun? Please. The first crime in which the perp’s acts don’t make objective sense to a rational observer? Umm…
    And yet people… who obviously want to believe… shower this sloppy reasoning with unrestricted adulation. It never ceases to amaze me how people just turn off their skepticism like a light bulb when faced with something they want to believe.
    The man blasted a cop, and he darn well knew it was a cop when he pulled the trigger. He had a lot of indications, from people screaming ‘POLICE!’ to the markings on the cop himself in the well-lit room in which the murder took place. Clever lawyering can cast doubt on each item in isolation, but all together? No.
    Sure, prison conditions need improvement… for everyone, not just those chamioned by blogswarm groupthink. But that’s a seperate issue, and including it doesn’t change the fact that a jury of his peers… who saw more of the evidence than any of the commenters here ever will have… put him there.
    And when you get into the ‘OMG he changed his baby’s diaper’ part… Then it starts to get just embarrasingly sloppy on the misplaced sentiment. His victim will never change a baby’s diaper… guess why?

  66. #66 |  Radley Balko | 

    Ryan Waxx:

    It’s pretty clear you aren’t interested in discussion or debate. But I will correct you on a couple of things:

    The room wasn’t “well-lit.” It wasn’t even dimly lit. It was dark. There’s no dispute about this.

    Officer Jones’ clothing wasn’t plainly marked. I’ve seen what he was wearing. It was dark clothing, with a small police insignia on the sleeves and another on the back, which Cory wouldn’t have seen.

    Whether or not they were yelling “police!” is anyone’s guess. Only they and Maye know the truth about that.

  67. #67 |  Ryan Waxx | 

    > It’s pretty clear you aren’t interested in discussion or debate.

    And you are… as long as people agree with you?

    > The room wasn’t “well-lit.” It wasn’t even dimly lit. It was dark.

    Yeah, so all the news outlets got it wrong? Sure.

    > Officer Jones’ clothing wasn’t plainly marked.

    And since any reasonable person would agree with you, that is why the police department effected a change in uniform… oh, wait they didn’t? Another fine, lawyerly point.

    > Whether or not they were yelling “police!” is anyone’s guess.

    Anybody’s guess? Is that what we call police testimony nowadays?

    Fortunately, the jury did not believe that.

  68. #68 |  fishbane | 

    Radley,

    This is one of the most moving posts I’ve read in some time. You’re a rock star. The damage done to families in the name of preserving family values is beyond perverse, and the wisdom and compassion to all of the victims here you display and bring to life is incredibly moving.

    Thank you for pursuing this, for publicizing this, for simply being a dedicated, honest, wonderful person.

  69. #69 |  fishbane | 

    > Whether or not they were yelling “police!” is anyone’s guess.

    Anybody’s guess? Is that what we call police testimony nowadays?

    …Because police testimony is well known to be always factually correct and honest.

  70. #70 |  junyo | 

    Treat everyone as an equally potential threat (which means that you basically just cower in your house, since the old ladies in the walking club at the mall are clearly just as dangerous as the corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted dudes standing on the corner in a neighborhood where lots of similar people live)
    So you’re not arguing that the old lady doesn’t represent some level of threat. You’re arguing that:
    1. That individuals who are not male or black or “corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted” represents a level of threat that can be effectively disregarded.
    2. That in any given random interaction with a “corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted” black male, your being assaulted is more likely than not.
    3. That as a corrollary of item 2, every single young black man (or at least all “corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted” black males) represents a level of threat for which the proper response is to “cower in your house”.
    4. That it’s equitable to treat the individuals who are “corn-rowed tattooed hoodie-wearing ankle-panted” black males as a threat, simply because of their appearance, even if they are not actually a threat.
    This is the crux of your point, correct?

  71. #71 |  Roach | 

    I notice from junyo’s last set of comments that many liberals live in desperate fear of ever having to make a generalization, as if we could get through life at all without engaging in some kind of information triage all the time. This is silly; people who make sensible generalizations thrive; those who don’t and don’t notice patterns perish. This goes back to ancient times.

    To his question, yes, the folks described who are young and male and black and dress like thugs are many many times more dangerous than people at random, little old ladies, or white men in general. Order of magnitude differences are involved.

    If these people as described are not in fact a threat, then it’s too bad, but the “indignity” they suffer is mostly to be watched more closely and for their neighorhoods to be avoided. These are inconveniences, and in a free society more restrictive things like restrictive covenants, racial discrimination, policies with disparate impact, and the like should be acknowledged as totally legitimate uses of liberty. I mean, let’s face it, the subdivision rent-a-cops should be looking at who is out of place and more likely to commit crimes, no? And since they’re private and these are private neighborhoods, libertarians should not complain, I would imagine.

    Just google “Color of Crime” study to see some of the basic numbers on this.

  72. #72 |  Bronwyn | 

    Ryan, go read all the court transcripts, then come back to apologize. Your ignorance is embarrassing.

  73. #73 |  Steve Finlay | 

    I don’t see a fear of making a generalization in Junyo’s comments at all. He or she is pointing out, quite correctly, that you haven’t come close to demonstrating that your PARTICULAR generalization is actually “sensible”.

    Let’s suppose that a black man dressed as a thug actually is “orders of magnitude more likely” to commit a violent crime than a white man in a suit. Apparently, you conclude from this that it is appropriate to assume that NO white man in a suit is a threat, and that EVERY black man dressed as a thug IS a threat. This does not follow. The chance of the white man attacking you could be 0.001%, and the chance of the black man attacking you could be two orders of magnitude higher, at 0.1% — which is one chance in a thousand. You are not even CLOSE to demonstrating that the black man is more likely to attack you than not, and I believe that is Junyo’s point.

    If your logic were true, then every law-abiding black man should assume that any police officer who approaches him is going to arrest him without reasonable cause, fabricate evidence, and lie on the stand to convict him. After all, police officers are orders of magnitude more likely to do this to a black man than people who are not police officers.

  74. #74 |  Dana | 

    It’s interesting to see Prohibition repeatedly invoked as a reason for not ever banning any other drug again. I used to do that too, and then I read up on what the situation was like when they decided to ban alcohol.

    And, well, you know all the crime we have to deal with now because so many people get high? It was like that back then. Imagine, say, the drinking habits of your average working-class Englishman and then imagine them being with corn liquor rather than Guinness. Just like that. It was a mess. Really, really ugly. It wasn’t at all like our drinking habits are now. We’ve actually gotten a good bit more civilized, even with drunk driving deaths and that kind of thing.

    So NO, this wasn’t a case of the mean old Government being nannies or not letting anybody have any fun. It was a matter of clamping down on something that was destroying a lot of people’s lives in very unpleasant ways. Until you have had to live with an alcoholic parent or spouse or obnoxious neighbor day in and day out and had to suffer their abuse and then multiply that effect by about a thousand, maybe you’ll never understand.

    It’s for that reason that I don’t really care if they ever legalize drugs. OK, I might be all right with pot being legalized, because I’ve smoked it and it’s like alcohol without the hangover for me, but people are already rude and nasty with their tobacco-smoking habits, they already force me to imbibe their drug right along with them when they light up in front of me out in public without asking me… I would imagine they’d do that with pot too. Best to just leave it to people who would be criminals anyway and let the law-abiding people take up other, less destructive hobbies.

    There are more ways to harm a person than by merely taking their property. Maybe you should consider that in your critiques of government and so-called “collectivism.”

    That said, I agree that this man’s arrest and sentencing were just inexcusable and baseless. I also do not understand why harming a cop carries a stiffer penalty than harming a civilian, since a police officer takes the job knowing he is risking his life, but there is no such job description for civilian life. It’s ridiculous and it just props up the authoritarian state with no real benefit to anyone.

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