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Without further ado, please enjoy the news: RTw 05/20/94 COUNTERCULTURE ``BEATS'' CELEBRATE 50TH ANNIVERSARY By Ransdell Pierson NEW YORK, May 20 (Reuter) - Legendary figures of the "Beat Generation," who fused counterculture, sexual experimentation and drugs into an art form, converged on Greenwich Village for a 50th anniversary conference -- looking grayer, sedate and even professorial. Rather than dress and behave like rebels, they resembled literary statesmen Friday, dignified and quite proper. The Beats, led by poet Allen Ginsberg, descended on New York University for a week-long round of lectures, art exhibits and poetry readings which runs through Sunday. NYU, not far from the coffeehouses and bars that served as living rooms for the Beats during their heydey 1940's and 1950's, is sponsoring the May 17-22 gathering. The conference features a major art exhibit, including Ginsberg photographs and paintings by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, novelists Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, and artist Robert LaVigne. Ginsberg, affluent from royalties and the lecture circuit, appeared reserved and businesslike Friday during a seminar on Beats and the visual arts. The 67-year-old poet -- who once posed nude, clasping his crotch in a famous Beat photo and flaunted his homesexuality during the staid 1950s -- wore a dark suit. His beard, once long and wild, had been carefully trimmed. Ginsberg barely cracked a smile as he autographed books for a score of fans and drew sunflowers on the inside cover of one copy. Asked about any emotional highlights of the conference, Ginsberg pondered gravely and replied, "Getting together physically, although we're all in touch by phone or letters." Beat historian Regina Weinreich said she was electrified by readings from celebrated poets Gregory Corso and Michael McClure. But she acknowledged that the Beat conference was a little "on the sedate side. "Maybe," she quipped, "because there aren't any drugs around." Harold Norse, a San Francisco Beat poet, said he had not seen so many friends together since Ginsberg, Kerouac and Ferlinghetti were the focal point of a group of nonconformists centred in New York and San Francisco decades ago. Norse, who has not seen New York for 30 years, recalled how he met Ginsberg in 1944, on a subway car headed for Greenwich Village. "It was 3 a.m. and this skinny 18-year-old kid was standing up, reciting Rimbaud." The birth of the Beat movement is dated the same year, when Ginsberg met Kerouac and Burroughs. Kerouac, deceased author of "On the Road," coined the phrase "Beat Generation" four years later, in 1948, saying his generation was beat, or weary, "with all the forms, all the conventions of the world." The literary group became a movement by 1957 after Ginsberg, who often fuelled his visions with Benzedrine and marijuana, won a highly publicised censorship trial in San Francisco for his homoerotic poem "Howl."" The poem, a sweeping denunciation of the conformism of the America of President Dwight Eisenhower, was a touchstone for a generation of protesters. It was Kerouac's "On The Road," a semi-autobiographical novel about a group of young men adrift in America, that became a bible of the Beats and that inspired much of the 1960's Woodstock generation's yearnings to drop out of conventional society. REUTER UPse 05/23/94 600 pot plants in Hastings house HASTINGS, Mich., May 23 (UPI) -- State police Monday confiscated 600 marijuana plants growing in the basement of what one trooper called "a very nice suburban home." Arrest warrants were being sought for the couple who owns the home and their son, a man in his mid-20s who was readying the six-to-nine- inch plants for moving to the outdoors. A state trooper who declined to be named said the couple knew that their son, who did not live at the home, was using grow lights to nurse the young plants in the basement of their home in Hastings Township. The suspects' names were being withheld pending arrests. The trooper said warrants were expected to be issued Tuesday charging the suspects with manufacturing marijuana, which is a felony. Troopers found the pot-growing operation after receiving a tip. The value of the plants has not been determined. The investigation also led police to the seizure of a handgun that had been stolen in an unrelated burglary in Freeport, the trooper said. RTw 05/23/94 YACHT FOUND IN CHANNEL WITH CANNABIS AND NO CREW DOVER, England, May 23 (Reuter) - A Mary Celeste style mystery has developed in the English Channel after the discovery on Monday of a yacht carrying a large quantity of cannabis drifting at sea without a crew. The 30-foot (10-metre) yacht was spotted by a fishing boat off the coast of Kent. More than 100 kg (220 lb) of herbal cannabis was found on board, a customs spokesman said. The yacht's dinghy was later plucked from the sea, some distance away, by a lifeboat. There was nobody aboard and it too was carrying cannabis. A Coastguard spokesman said there were no clues to the yacht crew's whereabouts. The crew's disappearance echoes the case of the brigantine Mary Celeste, found floating off the coast of Portugal in 1872 without its crew and no indication of their fate. A customs spokesman said the yacht may have broken down and the crew then attempted to reach the English coast in the dinghy. Coastguards were searching the surrounding sea. REUTER WP 05/24/94 Criminalizing Jennifer Capriati By Richard Cohen NEW YORK Those who are cynical about the erstwhile War on Drugs (a term abandoned by the Clinton administration) had their case bolstered recently. Jennifer Capriati, the extremely dangerous 18-year-old tennis star, was arrested in Florida for possessing a small amount (about 20 grams) of marijuana. A terrified nation - she had killer ground strokes - undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief. The cynics, of whom I am one, might have noted that if Capriati were 21 and had possessed a gallon of vodka and, like every other Floridian, a legal handgun, the law would have left her alone. Throw in a carton of cigarettes - as addictive as chocolate, according to the cigarette companies - and no lawman would or could have taken an interest in her. Guns, booze and cigarettes are either mentioned in the Constitution or have strong lobbies in Washington - I forget which. Enough cynicism - even from a cynic. The fact is that the arrest of Capriati points up the silliness of our drug laws. The former tennis star - she hasn't played for almost a year - has since entered the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami for rehab, although from what is not exactly clear. Above all, she seems to be suffering from an acute case of teenage madness. The symptoms include estrangement from her parents, consorting with "the wrong people" and, possibly, abuse of drugs. In her case, it probably matters that she became a professional tennis player at the age of 13. Women's tennis and child abuse sometimes amount to the same thing. But for all Capriati's fame and wealth ($1.5 million in "lifetime" earnings), she is depressingly typical. Whatever her problems, they are hardly criminal in nature. Yet, she was arrested for allegedly possessing an insignificant amount of marijuana. This is a drug of such power that it has made the entire government crazy. During the Reagan years, for instance, the discovery of a single seed prompted the Feds to seize a luxury yacht. Yet for some reason, of all the millions of people who have partaken of the weed, not a single one is known to have died as a result. Would that cigarettes could make the same claim. Let me pause at this point to declare my steadfast opposition to drug use. I do so without reservation. But eschewing the stuff myself and recommending it to no one, I still have to wonder why we continue to treat drugs mostly as a criminal matter, waging a war not against drugs themselves but against our own people. At the moment, some 330,000 people are in jail for drug violations. In the federal prison system, more than 60 percent of the inmates are there for violating drug laws - most relating to harder drugs than marijuana. But even when it comes to pot, the numbers are appalling. The FBI reports that in 1992, 535,000 people were arrested for possession, sale or manufacture of marijuana - this in a nation that doesn't have enough cops to start with. In six cases, reports Rolling Stone magazine in a special report about drugs, life sentences were imposed. As for harder drugs, mandatory minimum sentences are clogging the jails with small-time "mules" who are quickly and easily replaced. The money's very good. The folly, not to mention the tragedy, of this policy ought to be apparent. For some reason, the United States persists in treating drugs as a criminal, not a health, problem. Certainly, the importation and selling of hard drugs is a criminal enterprise and ought to be dealt with accordingly. But that lucrative business - so lucrative it persists despite Draconian penalties for lawbreakers - would soon wither if the government decriminalized the use of drugs. That was the experience when Prohibition ended and there's no reason to think things would be different now. To that suggestion - advanced to one degree or another by Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and former secretary of state George Shultz among others, and contingent on much study - certain politicians cry bloody murder. Congressmen who represent inner-city districts see drugs as such a scourge that they label decriminalization as nothing short of capitulation. Decriminalization does seem like capitulation - capitulation not to drug pushers or to the substance itself but to human nature. We have been fighting this fight for a long time, spending $20 billion a year, and have nothing to show for it. The true winners of the war on drugs are drug pushers and companies engaged in the construction of prisons. The rest of us are losers. Whatever Jennifer Capriati's problems, they are not criminal. If she indeed has a problem with drugs, particularly marijuana, she will probably be more easily cured than if she were a habitual cigarette smoker (tougher to quit for a lot of people than heroin) or a serious boozer. The whole idea that she was arrested - rehab was her own idea - for possessing a small amount of marijuana is preposterous. She's not a criminal, but a kid with some problems - one of them now being a bust on a drug charge. RTf 05/25/94 Dutchmen, Spaniard convicted in British drug case LONDON, May 25 (Reuter) - A British court convicted three Dutchmen and a Spaniard on Wednesday of trying to smuggle cannabis worth 57 million pounds ($86 million), the largest amount of the drug ever seized in Britain. The four were arrested aboard a trawler in the North Sea 130 miles (210 km) off Newcastle, northeast England, two years ago. Officers who raided the ship found 850 canvas bundles of cannabis resin that were to be smuggled by sea into various European countries. The court in the northern city of Leeds found the ship's captain Jan Wagenaar, 49, guilty of possessing drugs with intent to smuggle them into Europe. Laurens Pels-Ryken, 30, Hans Pronk, 50, and Spaniard Rojeirio Santiago Maya, 39, were convicted of similar charges. The court heard that the ship, the Britannia Gazelle, picked up cannabis from a Spanish vessel in the mid-Atlantic and was to meet up with smaller vessels to take the cargo to a number of European destinations. The jury failed to reach a verdict on two other Dutchmen arrested at the same time. All six denied the charges. REUTER UPn 05/27/94 U.N. unveils anti-drug plan for Kazakhstan By KARLYGASH EZHENOVA ALMA ATA, May 27 (UPI) -- The United Nations announced Friday it was granting Kazakhstan $500,000 to fight drug trafficking, as the former Soviet republic struggles to combat a rising tide of narcotics-related crime. U.N. Deputy Secretary General Giorgio Giacomelli said the money would go to developing advisers and information exchanges, overhauling obsolete legislation, training personnel and creating laboratories to fight the illegal drugs trade. Giacomelli, who is the executive director of the U.N. international drug control program, told a press conference in the Kazakh capital Alma Ata that it was important for him to know how serious the Kazakh government was about combating drug trafficking. He said there was a danger that cash accumulated by Kazakh drug barons could find its way into the pockets of corrupt officials, making it much harder for the authorities to stamp out the drugs trade. Kazakh Interior Minister Vladimir Shumov told reporters that the number of drug users in the republic had increased four-fold to 12,500 over the last 10 years, with two thirds of all addicts under the age of 30. He said the volume of illegal drugs in circulation had grown seven- fold over the same period, and last year police had confiscated over 12 tons of narcotics. "Kazakhstan has the biggest raw material base of any C.I.S. state for the illegal production of drugs of the hashish group," Shumov said. The smuggling of drugs from the other republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States, especially opiates from neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tadzhikistan, was also on the rise, he said. "By the nature of its geographical position, Kazakhstan serves as a staging post for drug shipments from China and from the Golden Crescent region to Europe," Shumov said. Police throughout the C.I.S. are being faced with an unprecedented rise in smuggling as drug traffickers from Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere in Asia infiltrate with ease the once tightly sealed borders of ex-Soviet republics. Kazakhstan has itself turned into one of the world's major producers of hashish, as stiff Soviet controls break down and farmers see in plants like hemp a profitable cash crop to supplement their meager incomes. WP 05/27/94 Stubborn (and Wrong) on Sentences A CONFERENCE committee will sit down after the Memorial Day recess to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the crime bill. It is an expensive and repressive measure generally. It will cost tens of billions of dollars and greatly expand the list of federal crimes, dozens of which will carry the death penalty. But there is at least one reasonable provision that will actually save money. It would provide some leeway for judges sentencing first offenders on relatively minor drug charges, and it would make that relief retroactive. But the word is out that the Justice Department will oppose extending this possibility to people already under sentence. Democratic conferees are expected to fall into line. The current mandatory minimum sentencing laws are extremely harsh and costly. The Justice Department itself conceded last winter that federal prisons now house about 16,000 inmates convicted of minor, nonviolent drug offenses because of mandates that apply even to first offenders. Both the House and Senate versions of the crime bill would allow a judge to use the sentencing guidelines - which already carry high penalties - instead of the extreme mandatory minimums when certain conditions are met. The defendant must not have used a gun or been a leader in the crime. He must have cooperated with the police. And he must have a clean record - no prior convictions in the Senate bill, nothing more than a single 60-day misdemeanor in the House bill. This is not, by any definition, a hard-core group. The House bill would also allow this discretion in the case of prisoners who meet the standards and who have completed what would have been their sentences but for the mandatories. The U.S. Sentencing Commission estimates that about 1,600 prisoners would be eligible. They have already served considerable time. They would not be released automatically but only after individual assessment. Keeping them in prison for many years costs a great deal of money, serves no real additional purpose and creates two classes of prisoners for people with identical records sentenced before and after the day the crime bill is signed. Reps. Henry Hyde and William McCollum, two of the most conservative Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, support retroactivity. But the Justice Department is bent on eliminating it in conference. If Mr. Hyde and Mr. McCollum can take a stand for good sense in this case, why is the department reluctant to do as much? APn 05/29/94 Weedstock WARRENS, Wis. (AP) -- They came, they saw, they lit up. And, unlike President Clinton, they did inhale. About 1,000 people -- three times the population of this village -- gathered this weekend to celebrate the 6th annual Weedstock festival, a paean to pot. Banners proclaimed "Hemp, our premier natural resource," and "Thank you for smoking pot." Many pitched tents and rigged plastic windbreaks for shelter. Some came here on bicycles pulling makeshift trailers piled with bedrolls and cooking gear. "This is a great time," said Ben Masel, who organized this year's festival on a 53-acre site about 50 miles east of La Crosse. "It brings people together, and it gives us the chance to educate them to the agricultural benefits of hemp." So far, Weedstock revelers have been cooperative, although some neighbors complained about loud music and trespassing. Monroe County sheriff's officials said Sunday they had made about 20 drug-related arrests and handed out 78 traffic citations. Jennie Larscheid of Chaska, Minn., who brought her 12 Yorkshire terriers, received one of the citations. "I was fined $150 for not having lights on the back of my camper," she said. "They tell me I can't leave unless I get them fixed. I guess I'll have to sell a couple of dogs or something." RTw 05/29/94 AUSTRALIAN DOCTORS URGE CANNABIS DECRIMINALISATION CANBERRA, May 29 (Reuter) - Australia's top medical group has urged that the possession of small amounts of cannabis by first offenders be decriminalised. Jail terms for first-time offenders should be replaced by compulsory rehabilitation programmes, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) said at its annual conference on Sunday, in a significant softening of its position on cannabis. A criminal conviction for possession should be recorded only for repeat offenders, it said. The health consequences of imprisonment made it an inappropriate punishment for the use or possession of small amounts of cannabis, the AMA's federal president Brendan Nelson told reporters. About 1,300 people were now in Australian prisons for the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, he said. "That is not in their interest and it is not, arguably, in the interest of the nation," Nelson said. "We are not prepared to support any Australian getting a criminal record -- which can affect employment, psychological welfare, family relationships, a whole range of things which contribute to ill-health -- simply because they have been caught in the possession of a very small amount of cannabis." But the AMA did not support the legalisation of cannabis and it would strongly resist any moves in that direction because of evidence it can cause mental and physical damage, he said. He noted a recent government report which said 50 percent of Australian 14 to 19 year-olds surveyed had been offered cannabis in the previous year and that 40 percent had smoked it in the past. REUTER WP 05/29/94 Feud Hurts Bid to Stop Drug Flow; State, Defense Battle Cuts Peru, Colombia From Radar Access By Barton Gellman Washington Post Staff Writer An unresolved feud in the Clinton administration, which abruptly cut off Peru and Colombia from access to U.S. counter-drug intelligence, has blinded all three nations to many drug smuggling flights and threatened to fracture a brittle alliance against the northward flow of heroin and cocaine. The sudden halt in cooperation has created a significant opportunity for traffickers, according to civilian and military narcotics experts. Relatively few drug flights have ever been intercepted, but data on their origin and destination has set the stage for raids on drug labs and storage facilities that netted some 300 metric tons of contraband last year. Because the State and Defense departments could not agree on a policy and failed to coordinate their moves, Peru and Colombia received no warning and scant explanation of the May 1 intelligence cutoff. On that day, the U.S. Southern Command suspended operation of U.S. ground-based radars in those countries and stopped allowing their nationals aboard U.S. surveillance flights launched from Panama. The two South American nations have begun to retaliate. Peru has banned the American AWACS and P-3 surveillance craft from its airspace, and Colombia threatened in writing last week to expel two U.S. radars. At issue is the use of U.S. flight tracking data by Colombia and Peru to locate and then force down or shoot down suspected drug planes. The United States has long regarded any attack on civil aircraft as illegal under international conventions and detrimental to U.S. interests as the world's leading aviation power, but it sometimes has winked at quiet efforts against drug traffickers. The Pentagon, supported by the Justice Department and a recent review by lawyers for eight government agencies, maintains that assisting in the shoot downs breaks U.S. and international law. Senior State Department officials, while acknowledging what one called "legal concerns," want to continue some form of a policy one of them described as "equivalent to `don't ask, don't tell' " - the United States would share the tracking data but express its official disapproval of attacks in flight. Beyond the legal concerns, the Defense Department worries about the possibility that the two South American nations will accidentally down innocent aircraft. Days after U.S. F-15 fighters shot down two American helicopters in northern Iraq, Defense Undersecretary Frank G. Wisner wrote on April 20 to Undersecretary of State Peter Tarnoff. "Recent events in Iraq," said his classified letter, underscored the need to protect innocent aircraft. The Defense Department would stop the intelligence sharing on May 1, he wrote, unless Colombia and Peru agreed not to use weapons against aircraft in flight. What threw the interagency dispute into crisis was its uncommon rancor and the willingness of U.S. adversaries to let it spill out into relations with Colombia and Peru. Noteworthy because it accompanies new claims of bureaucratic peace within the Clinton administration, the policy feud has "descended into hatred," according to one senior participant. Defense Department officials charge that the State Department deliberately failed to provide advance notice of the May 1 cutoff to Peru and Colombia - or even to U.S. ambassadors there - in order to create maximum backlash. When the two countries protested, one Colombian diplomat said a State Department contact told him the Defense Department stopped the aircraft intelligence "unilaterally" and that the military "didn't even tell the State Department about it." In a remarkable suggestion that one U.S. official likened to "treason," the same State Department official even encouraged Colombia to lodge a strong protest, according to the Colombian diplomat and another U.S. official with knowledge of the conversation. "I have been through a lot in 27 years of service," wrote Alvin Adams, U.S. ambassador in Peru, in a classified May 3 cable to complain that he received no word in advance. "Of the little I can remember in my advanced middle age, this is - in my ken of experience - a standout." Adams asked "urgently for coordinated guidance from you." In Washington, two of the principal adversaries, Assistant Secretary of State Robert S. Gelbard and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Brian E. Sheridan, each in charge of counter-narcotics policy for his department, are said to be not on speaking terms. State Department officials, according to sources there and on Capitol Hill, have told congressional Republicans that the Pentagon is trying to walk away from the war on drugs. One State Department official, who provided a reporter with the names of Republicans to call, said he worried that there might be an "unfortunate perception" that the Clinton administration is "in full retreat on narcotics." "We are trying to understand what is going on inside the American government," said a frustrated Peruvian official. "We are waiting for the discussions between the agencies to come to a consensus." The importance of the small aircraft to drug traffickers is not in dispute. Coca leaf grown in Bolivia and Peru must move northward for processing in successive stages to cocaine paste, cocaine base and - in Colombia - the pure street drug. Because dense jungle prevents overland transport and the rivers flow mainly east-west, the traffickers have what one U.S. general called "a north-south problem." U.S. intelligence officials believe nearly 1,000 flights a year head north carrying some form of cocaine or heroin. Since the late 1980s the United States has provided the backbone of an air tracking network capable of detecting and intercepting the flights. The idea, officially, was to pinpoint the where the planes took off and landed and "fuse" that information with other intelligence in order to mount ground attacks on drug labs and storage facilities. The ambitions of Peru and Colombia to down the aircraft in flight were largely hypothetical until recently, when Peruvian Tucano trainer aircraft armed with machine guns began shooting effectively at the renegade flights. Peru brought the issue into the open Nov. 4 with a dramatic shoot down of a suspected drug plane near Pucallpa, Peru. Shortly after that, Colombia announced its intention to shoot down drug flights. Those developments raised alarms in the Joint Staff and the Pentagon's civilian secretariat. Both grew sensitive to attacks on civil aviation after the Navy's accidental downing of an Iranian Airbus in 1988 and the 1983 downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007 by the former Soviet Union, which prompted one of the last great Cold War confrontations. Marine Lt. Gen. John J. Sheehan, the Joint Staff's director of operations, requested legal and policy guidance, and Pentagon lawyers concluded that the intelligence sharing was illegal. A classified by the State Department's legal counsel, dated Feb. 9, agreed. The assessment, obtained by The Washington Post, said providing flight data to countries that shoot at aircraft involves "either the USG (U.S. government) acquiescence in a violation of international law by another state or participation in such act." The 1944 Convention on Civil Aviation, known as the Chicago Convention, bans the use of weapons against nonmilitary aircraft for virtually any reason. An interagency legal review, with the Justice Department in the lead, then stunned both sides of the debate by concluding that continuing the policy not only would violate international law but would expose individual U.S. officials and troops to criminal prosecution. "U.S. law makes it a crime to willfully destroy, or attempt to destroy, a civil aircraft registered in a country other than the United States while such aircraft is in service," said the interagency review paper, adding that providing flight tracking data could be considered aiding and abetting that crime. Violations, the paper said, are "punishable by death." State Department officials argue that the air traffic is so important to the drug trade that the United States cannot afford to remove the threat that narcotics planes will be shot down. Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, chief of the U.S. Southern Command, also supported the shootdown policy until its legal implications became clear. But other officials, including a senior Drug Enforcement Agency expert, said interceptions of drugs in flight are a minor part of the drug war. Official Pentagon statistics, undisputed elsewhere in the government, show that 200 kilograms of cocaine were forced down last year while 300 metric tons were seized by other means in Colombia and Peru. Far more important than the flight interceptions, officials said, are the hard-won cooperative relationships with Colombia and Peru. With the Clinton administration still deadlocked, those relationships now appear to be in jeopardy. "The U.S. cannot decide what we do in our airspace," said an angry Colombian official in a telephone interview. "That's a sovereign decision and we're not going to change it. If the U.S. doesn't cooperate with us, we'll request its radars to be withdrawn." Said a U.S. government official, expressing anger against his Pentagon and State Department counterparts, "Why could these children not come together and work this out? The real reason we can't fight effectively against the narcotraffickers is that we're too busy fighting among ourselves." Staff writer Pierre Thomas and correspondent Corinne Schmidt-Lynch in Peru contributed to this report. RTw 05/30/94 AUSTRALIA STIRS POLITICAL POT ON MARIJUANA CANBERRA, May 30 (Reuter) - Australian Health Minister Carmen Lawrence, confronted with her past support of marijuana use, said on Monday the new conservative opposition leader Alexander Downer had also admitted using the drug. Downer, who ousted former leader John Hewson as Liberal Party leader last week, said marijuana had been foisted upon him, Lawrence told parliament after her own support for marijuana had been quoted to her. "Unadulterated and taken under suitable conditions by normal, well adjusted persons marijuana is a harmless inducer of a pleasant and relaxed state," opposition health spokesman Bronwyn Bishop quoted Lawrence as saying in her student days. Bishop was attempting to distract attention from her controversial support for tobacco advertising last week. However, Lawrence retorted: "There is at least one other person in this house (parliament) who echoed some of my words, and that's the leader of the opposition, Mr Downer." Lawrence said Downer had been asked in 1985 whether he had ever smoked marijuana. He had replied: "Even though it was illegal it was just everywhere when I was a student." "It was foisted upon me," he had added in the interview with The Melbourne Herald. Neither Downer nor Lawrence took advantage of parliamentary rules that let members of parliament claim to have been misrepresented. The Australian Medical Association called at the weekend for partial decriminalisation of marijuana use. Lawrence said she now believed the issue had to be considered. REUTER RTw 05/31/94 PORNO-WATCHING BISHOP RESIGNS IN SEYCHELLES VICTORIA, May 31 (Reuter) - The Roman Catholic bishop of the Seychelles, who has said he watches blue movies and has tried cultivating marijuana, resigned on Tuesday after Rome called for him to step down. "I admit to being a curious man and some of the scenes were quite explicit," 53-year-old Bishop Felix Paul told a local magazine last month, referring to his admission that he had watched pornographic films. The bishop first scandalised his flock in the mainly Catholic Indian Ocean archipelago, known as "the islands of love," last year when he spoke about his unorthodox activities on state television. The cleric also attacked the human rights record of President Albert Rene, an austere socialist who overthrew the libertarian 1970s leader, Jimmy Mancham. Bishop Paul, who has been in office since 1975, said he had later received a "nasty" letter from Rome. His resignation appears to have followed a visit to the islands last week by Kenya-based Apostolic Pro-Nuncio Clemente Faccani. REUTER RTw 06/01/94 LOOSE BORDERS WITHIN EX-USSR HELP DRUG SMUGGLERS VIENNA, June 1 (Reuter) - Drug smugglers are exploiting loose border controls within the former Soviet Union to establish new routes to Western Europe, the U.N. drugs agency said on Wednesday. The Vienna-based U.N. International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) said in a statement it was concerned by an "alarming increase" in drug crime in former Soviet central Asian republics. "A UNDCP delegation...has returned from a mission to Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where conditions are prime for opium and cannabis crops and where there are nearly non-existent border controls and poor controls of chemicals used in drug processing," it said. It said new drug routes for opium and heroin trafficking had opened from Afghanistan to Western Europe via neighbouring Tajikistan. "Once within the Commonwealth of Independent States with practically no border controls among member countries, the drugs are transported freely over a number of new routes and sent on to markets in Europe and North America," the statement said. Tightened controls in India, Pakistan and Iran had forced drug traffickers to move their operations to north Afghanistan and set up alternative routes to the Balkan connection. "One such route brings illicit drugs from Southwest Asia through Tajikistan, The Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States and from there to Western Europe," the statement said. Newly set up private banks and lack of proper controls had also made money-laundring from illicit drug trafficking easier in all central Asian countries, the UNDCP added. REUTER APn 06/01/94 Colombia-Drugs By JAVIER BAENA Associated Press Writer BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- President Cesar Gaviria signed a decree prohibiting drug use in public places and imposed other restrictions on a Constitutional Court ruling that legalized drug use in Colombia. The decree, signed Tuesday night, bans drug use on the streets and in work places, schools, bars, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and parks. Gaviria announced the decree May 18, saying he opposed drug use and citing opinion polls that indicate most Colombians are also against the court's ruling. The decree became law when he signed it. Gaviria also said last month he wanted a national referendum on the court's ruling, which legalized possession of small amounts of drugs. For a referendum to be held, 850,000 signatures must be collected. Under Gaviria's decree: --Drug use is prohibited if the user is at the controls of a motor vehicle, boat or aircraft. Violators face fines of up to $2,500, suspensions of licenses and criminal sanctions. --Athletes, minors and pregnant women are barred from using drugs. --Employees who use drugs on the job can be fired without severance pay. --Students caught using drugs on campus are subject to suspension or expulsion. The Constitutional Court ruled that laws prohibiting the use and possession of small amounts of drugs violated a constitutional guarantee of "free development of personality." Production, trafficking and sale of drugs remain illegal. There was no indication drug use rose significantly after the court ruling. Apart from an occasional impromptu marijuana smoke-in by youths, drug use has not been evident in public places. Although Colombia is the world's main supplier of cocaine, drug use is lower than in the United States and many other countries. RTna 06/01/94 DUTCH PREACHER OPENS CHURCH TO DRUG DEALERS By Chris Johnson ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (Reuter) - The Netherlands is famous for its tolerant attitude to drug use but many Dutch people think the Reverend Hans Visser has gone too far. He has invited drug pushers to sell heroin and crack cocaine in his Rotterdam church. "Many people may think I'm wrong, but in private lots of others, including the police and local government, agree with me," Visser told Reuters in an interview. Visser's church, the Dutch Protestant Pauluskerk in the center of the port, has been a day center for hard drug users for 15 years, providing food, entertainment and night shelter for hundreds of addicts. Drug use at the center has been officially tolerated since 1990 but dealing was always banned. "Where there are drug users there will always be dealers and we were having increasing problems with dealers coming in and making trouble," Visser said. "So I said "Okay. You can work here but no violence and don't mix the drugs with dangerous chemicals.' And, in the main, the strategy is working." Visser asked two drug dealers to sell heroin and crack cocaine in the church and accepted a contribution of $27 to $54 each week that was last week paid to tax authorities. He has no direct contact with the drugs, and leaves the regulation of sales and quality to the dealers. Drugs are sold at street prices of about $43.25 per gram for heroin and $67.57 for crack cocaine. "I don't receive money for the drugs and I don't intervene in their business or I would be regarded by the street mafia as the big boss," Visser said. "That would be much too dangerous." The Netherlands' official drug policy, introduced in 1976, is based on treating addiction as a medical problem rather than a crime. While all drugs are technically illegal, special "coffee shops" are allowed to sell hashish and marijuana and police rarely prosecute drug users. The approach aims to bring drug users out into the open and the government claims success. While hard drug use is rising in many European countries, the number of addicts in the Netherlands has stabilized at around 20,000 in a population of 15 million and drug-related deaths have declined. But Dutch tolerance has never extended to drug dealing and Visser has provoked protests from local residents. Angry people called a phone-in on local Radio Rijnmond last week to condemn him and demand Dutch drug policy be hardened. "Dutch policy has gone too far," said Jacob Pot, spokesman for the small Dutch Calvinist and Evangelical Party, which represents many of Visser's fellow churchmen in parliament. "Visser is a good man but drug dealing is against the law and that law must be enforced." Rotterdam police spokesman Ger de Jong said local officials were discussing what action to take over the church. "Junkies have used Visser's church to shoot up for a long time. We've known about that and let it happen because it is better there than in the streets. But dealing is different." Visser wants to push Dutch drugs policy much further, making hard drugs legal and taking the drugs industry away from the European trafficking mafia. "My aim is decriminalization. That is the only human policy," he said. "After 20 years a drug addict simply cannot get off the habit so we ought to prescribe drugs for long-term users and register dealers so we can control them. "It is not possible for the Netherlands to change on its own because if we did we would become a Mecca for users. But we can play an important role in Europe, leading opinion, and I have no doubt drugs will be legalized eventually." Whatever the outcome of the Dutch drugs debate, crack cocaine addict Edwin Heuverzwijn, 36, says the center fulfils a vital role. "Churches should be open for everyone but almost all of them are closed to people like us. This is the only safe haven we have," he said. REUTER circa 06/01/94 U.S. Drug Allegations Upset Thais; 3 Legislators Accused In Trafficking Cases By William Branigin Washington Post Foreign Service BANGKOK - U.S. allegations of drug trafficking by Thai legislators have thrown Thailand's parliament into an uproar and raised the prospect of the first major test of a new extradition treaty. So far, three opposition legislators have been publicly named by U.S. officials as suspects in drug-trafficking cases, and reports that others might be implicated have aroused apprehension among jittery politicians. The publicity has focused attention on the role of big money in Thai politics and fueled concerns that the parliament's reputation is being damaged. Thailand is a conduit for much of the heroin produced in the Golden Triangle, the border area where Burma, Thailand and Laos meet. The huge profits generated by the drug trade have sowed corruption among Thai politicians, security officials and businessmen at the local and national levels, U.S. and Thai sources charge. According to a recent State Department report, efforts to fight drug trafficking and money laundering in Thailand are hampered by such factors as "widespread police and military corruption" and "the narcotics involvement of some politicians." More than 60 percent of the heroin entering the United States comes from the Golden Triangle, U.S. officials estimate. Burma produces nearly 90 percent of the triangle's annual yield of more than 2,500 tons of opium, the raw material for heroin. Some analysts predict a record crop this year of more than 3,000 tons. Last month, Thanong Siripreechapong, 42, was forced to resign from parliament after a judge in San Francisco unsealed a 1991 indictment accusing him of involvement in smuggling more than 45 tons of marijuana from Thailand to the United States between 1973 and 1987. The indictment said Thanong was paid more than $13 million in a series of deals. Last year, the U.S. government seized about $1 million in assets - including a Beverly Hills house and a Mercedes-Benz - that Thanong was found to have acquired in the United States with proceeds from drug smuggling. He was notified twice of U.S. forfeiture proceedings but did not appear. Thanong denied the charges and said he wanted to fly to the United States to clear his name. The U.S. Embassy here responded that it would facilitate the trip, but that if he did enter the United States, he would be "arrested immediately." The Chart Thai party, the largest of five parties in opposition to the coalition government of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, expelled Thanong after finding inconsistencies in his testimony in parliamentary hearings. He had represented the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom, known as Thailand's premier marijuana growing area. Thailand now faces a dilemma over the prospect that U.S. authorities might seek Thanong's extradition. The case already has generated a debate over whether a Thai citizen can legally be extradited to stand trial in a foreign country. Extradition of Thai nationals has previously been banned, but the current constitution is ambiguous on the issue, and a 1992 extradition treaty with the United States neither authorizes nor forbids it. If the government decides Thanong cannot be extradited, it may decide to prosecute him here, officials said. But it remains to be seen whether Thai authorities could try him based on foreign evidence for offenses committed before a new Thai conspiracy law took effect. In a parliamentary session May 19, Mongkol Chongsuthanamanee, 48, tearfully denied involvement in the drug trade after it was disclosed that he had been denied a U.S. visa because his name is on a narcotics watch list. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has implicated Mongkol in a conspiracy to smuggle heroin to the United States, but currently lacks evidence to indict him, a U.S. official said. Mongkol, who represents the opposition Chart Pattana party from Chiang Rai, a northern town bordering the Golden Triangle, called the allegations against him "rubbish." A brother, Arun Chongsuthanamanee, is seeking commutation of a 1992 death sentence for drug trafficking. Mongkol is a protege of Narong Wongwan, who was in line to become Thailand's prime minister in 1992 until the State Department confirmed that he too had been denied a visa on suspicion of drug trafficking. Narong's nomination to head a pro-military coalition was later scuttled, and Gen. Suchinda Kraprayoon was chosen instead. Suchinda's accession to the premiership then prompted massive protests in which hundreds of democracy demonstrators were killed by the army before Suchinda was forced to resign. Narong, who is still in parliament, remains barred from entering the United States. The allegations linking legislators to drug dealing came to a head after Thai newspapers quoted Foreign Minister Prasong Soonsiri as telling a cabinet meeting that he had a U.S. list of 17 politicians, including 10 opposition legislators, suspected of being traffickers. Opposition legislators demanded that he name the suspects. Prasong dismissed the reports, and the U.S. Embassy denied providing any such list. However, lists compiled by Thai academic and media sources quickly began circulating, including one that named three senior members of the government. "I have to confirm that several politicians, both at the local and national levels, are suspected of being involved in the drug trade," Prime Minister Chuan told parliament. He acknowledged having a list of suspected drug-dealing politicians, but declined to disclose details. RTw 06/02/94 U.S. PRISON POPULATION SETS RECORD IN 1993 WASHINGTON, June 2 (Reuter) - There are almost one million convicts in U.S. prisons. The number of inmates in overcrowded state and federal prisons in the United States swelled by more than 65,000 in 1993 to a record 949,000 prisoners, according to a Justice Department report. The report by its information-gathering unit, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, found a 7.4 percent increase last year in the state and federal prison population, continuing a trend dating back to 1980 of more criminals behind bars. The report, released Wednesday, said the number of federal and state inmates has gone up nearly 200 percent since 1980, mainly from more drug offenders entering prison. It said about half of the growth in the nation's prison population reflected more arrests for drug violations. Fuelling the growth have been so-called mandatory minimum sentences which require jail time for minor drug offences. In addition, more people have been arrested and sent to prison since 1980 for sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery and burglary, the report said. A third factor behind the higher inmate population has been a sharp increase in the number of parole and probation violators being returned to prison. The report said state prisons at the end of 1993 held 18 to 29 percent more prisoners than they were designed to handle while the federal prison system was operating at 36 percent over capacity. During 1993, the number of inmates in state prisons rose by seven percent to 859,000 while the number of federal inmates went up nearly 12 percent to 90,000, the report said. REUTER WP 06/02/94 Prisons Hold A Record 948,881; Since '80, Inmate Total Has Nearly Tripled By William Claiborne and Pierre Thomas Washington Post Staff Writers The number of inmates in state and federal prisons climbed to nearly a million last year, an almost threefold increase since 1980, according to a Justice Department report issued yesterday. Last year's growth alone represented an average weekly gain of about 1,250 prisoners. Congress is poised to stiffen penalties for dozens of crimes, thereby exacerbating the problem. The Bureau of Justice Statistics said that nearly half the increase in prisoners since 1980 was linked to drug offenders entering prison. In 1992, the last year for which data on drug offenders were available, prison commitments for drug offenses reached 30 percent of all new commitments, the department said. The "War on Drugs" produced longer federal and state sentences, mandatory minimum terms and tighter parole policies for drug and violent crimes. In addition to drug offenders, the numbers of people jailed for sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and burglary have increased, the report said. Those crimes accounted for nearly 50,000 people entering prison in 1992, according to the Justice Department. Inmate growth also was linked to increases in the number of parole and probation violators returned to prison. In 1980, only 17 percent of state prisoners were parole or probation violators, but by 1992 this had risen to 30 percent. Overall, the nation's prisons held 948,881 inmates at the end of last year, compared with 329,821 men and women in 1980. The average annual increase for the 14-year period was 8.5 percent. At the end of last year, state prisons were estimated to be operating at between 18 and 29 percent above capacity, while the federal system was estimated to be 36 percent over capacity. The rapid rise in incarcerations underscored the fiscal impact of rising crime rates, primarily on state governments. Corrections officials estimate that it costs at least $15,000 a year to house each prisoner, and say the cost of building prisons has been rising annually. "In recent years, the increase in correctional spending for states has been twice that for general fund increases and even larger than in education spending," said Jon Felde, who studies judiciary issues for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "We have to find new ways to cope with the rate of criminality," he added. Felde predicted that state governments would intensify their searches for sentencing alternatives to incarceration. Joseph R. Biden Jr., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that the Justice Department report makes all the more imperative the need for Congress to pass the crime bill, which authorizes billions of dollars for prison construction besides lengthening sentences for a number of crimes. "But it is not enough simply to keep building prisons because - as the statistics released demonstrate - the prison population keeps growing to fill new spaces," he said. Biden called for a "new approach" to fighting crime, balancing punishment with innovative prevention programs and expanding cost-effective experiments such as boot camps and special drug courts. The report said that California had the most inmates in state facilities in 1992 (119,951), followed by Texas (71,103) and New York (64,569). Texas had an additional 29,546 inmates in local jails awaiting transfer to state prisons. The report stressed - and local law enforcement officials confirmed - that inmate overcrowding and rising costs of incarceration have forced a number of states to begin housing prisoners in local jails. At the end of last year, the report said, 22 states reported a total of 50,966 such prisoners being held in local jails or other facilities. Texas reported that almost 60 percent of its prisoners were being held in local jails even though they had been sentenced to state prisons, and four other states - Louisiana, Virginia, New Jersey and West Virginia - held more than 10 percent of their prison populations locally, the report said. Bud Meeks, executive-director of the National Sheriff's Association, said, "Incarcerating people is a very expensive proposition for us. We feel the increase because our local jails are turning into long-term facilities, which they really are not equipped to be." Meeks said one local jail in Fort Wayne, Ind., was housing 540 inmates, even though it was built for 220. "That's happening all over... . It's a disaster waiting to happen," Meeks said. APn 06/02/94 Prisons By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) -- The war on drugs and violent crime nearly tripled the state and federal inmate population from 1980 to a record 948,881 last year, and even stiffer prison sentences are on the way. But despite the inmate population boom, "I don't know anyone now who feels safer than 20 years ago," said Marc Mauer, assistant director of The Sentencing Project, a foundation-supported group that advocates alternatives to prison. Reporting on inmate populations at the end of 1993, the Justice Department said Wednesday that the incarceration rate for prisoners sentenced to more than a year also set a record -- 351 per 100,000 residents. The United States locks up a larger portion of its people than any other nation. In 1992, 455 of every 100,000 Americans were in prison or jail; South Africa under its old government was next, at 311 per 100,000. "Suddenly, we've gone wild on incarceration but there is no clear impact on crime rates," said Professor Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie-Mellon University. U.S. incarceration rates remained around 110 inmates per 100,000 people from the 1920s through 1970s, Blumstein said, "then in the 1980s began shooting straight up." But over the last 20 years, he said, "murder rates have remained absolutely flat, robbery has grown about 1 percent per year and burglary has declined somewhat." Mauer of the prison-alternatives group observed that "the politics of the crime bill shows the data don't have much impact on the debate." House and Senate crime bills, now headed for compromise negotiations, would stiffen the penalties for dozens of crimes and provide billions of additional dollars for prison construction. California has just enacted a law providing life in prison for some third-time offenders that could add 85,000 inmates over five years to its current total of nearly 120,000. But Paul McNulty of the conservative First Freedom Coalition saw no reason to stop building prisons just because crime rates have not improved. "That's like saying, `stop bailing a boat with a hole because water is still coming in,'" he said. "Violent offenders in prison are not committing crimes, and we will have a storm of violence in the late 1990s" as current teen-agers reach their most crime-prone years. But experts from all sides agree too many low-level, nonviolent drug sellers and couriers have been locked up as the drug war produced stiffer federal and state sentences, mandatory minimum terms and tighter parole policies for drug and violent crimes. In its report, the Bureau of Justice Statistics attributed half the prisoner growth since 1980, when inmates totaled 329,821, to increases in the number of drug criminals. From 1980 to 1992, the last year with full data, adult drug arrests more than doubled from 471,200 to 980,700. At the same time, the likelihood of going to prison for that crime increased fivefold, from 19 sentences per 1,000 arrests to 104. Rising arrests and imprisonment rates also produced a smaller increase in the number of people entering prison for sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault -- 50,000 more in 1992 than in 1980. Drug criminals soared from 7 percent of new inmates in 1980 to 30 percent in 1992. Philip Heymann, former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, said up to 25 percent of federal inmates are serving 6 to 11 years for drug crimes without violence and aren't major traffickers. "Other people quickly replace them on the street," Heymann said. Blumstein of Carnegie-Mellon agreed and added "our addiction to imprisoning drug traffickers," even nonviolent small fry, "may be sending the less-serious drug sellers to a graduate school for crime in prison." McNulty, who served in the Bush administration, said, "We are probably incarcerating some first-time, nonviolent drug offenders that we don't need to. The number is probably less than (Attorney General) Janet Reno thinks, but more than we Republicans have been willing to admit." RTw 06/03/94 BELGIAN POLICE SEIZE 13.5 TONNES OF MARIJUANA IN ANTWERP BRUSSELS, June 3 (Reuter) - Belgian police and customs seized 13.5 tonnes of marijuana with an estimated street value of 1.3 billion francs ($39.5 million) in the northern port of Antwerp on Friday. Two Canadians and an American were arrested in connection with the seizure, a spokesman for the Antwerp public prosecutor's office told the Belga news agency. Police were tipped off on May 26 that the 45-year-old American would fly to Belgium. He later contacted a 38-year-old Canadian and his 29-year-old girlfriend. The three were arrested after leading police to a container with nearly 500 bales of marijuana in the Antwerp port area. Antwerp police, customs and public prosecutor's office were unavailable for commment. REUTER RTw 06/06/94 SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN TAX ON MARIJUANA By James Vicini WASHINGTON, June 6 (Reuter) - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states cannot exact a tax on illegal drugs from someone convicted of drug possession. The high court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down Montana's $100-an-ounce tax on the possession of marijuana on the grounds that it violates constitutional protection against double jeopardy by imposing successive punishments for the same offence. The decision has far-reaching application, as at least 22 other states have imposed similar marijuana taxes. In other decisions Monday, the high court also: -- unanimously said prison officials may be held liable for acting with deliberate indifference to an inmate's health or safety only if there was knowledge of serious risk or harm and they still failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it. The court ordered more hearings in the case of Dee Farmer, a transsexual inmate who sued prison officials after being raped in 1989 by another inmate at a federal prison in Indiana. -- said by a 6-3 vote that a sentencing judge may consider a defendant's prior uncounseled misdemeanor conviction as long as it did not result in a prison sentence. That case involved a Tennessee man, who paid a fine for drunken driving without hiring a lawyer. He then faced a longer sentence seven years later when he pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking charges. In the marijuana tax case, Justice John Paul Stevens writing for the majority, said the tax appears to be motivated more for punishment than for the usual revenue-raising purposes. "In addition, it purports to be a property tax, yet it is levied on goods -- here the destroyed marijuana plants -- that the taxpayer neither owns nor possesses," he said. States simply could increase the criminal fine at the time of conviction, he wrote, adding the tax "is a second punishment that must be imposed during the first prosecution or not at all." Justices Harry Blackmun, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the decision. The case spawned three separate dissenting opinions. Chief Justice William Rehnquist said the marijuana tax was not so high to be deemed "arbitray and shocking," when compared with other so-called "sin" taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the decision was unnecessary to protect individual liberty because the excessive fines clause of the Constitution protects criminals from the government going too far. "Today's decision will be felt acutely by law-abiding taxpayers because it will seriously undermine the ability of the state and federal governments to collect recompense for the immense costs criminals impose on our sociey," she said. The third dissent was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, and joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. The case involved the Kurth family, whose ranch in Montana was raided in 1987. Six family members later were convicted on drug charges. The state then assessed a tax of more than $800,000 on the amount of seized marijuana. The tax bill was later reduced to $200,000 by a bankruptcy court judge. REUTER APn 06/06/94 Drug Tax By RICHARD CARELLI Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) -- States may not force people to pay drug-possession taxes in addition to criminal penalties, the Supreme Court ruled today. Such taxes are barred by the Constitution's ban on double punishment for the same crime, the court's 5-4 decision in a Montana case said. Most states impose such taxes on people already convicted of drug-possession crimes. Today's decision striking down the Montana tax calls into question the validity of those laws. In other actions today, the justices: --Ruled that prison officials can be forced to pay damages when inmates are attacked by fellow prisoners only if the officials knowingly disregarded an excessive risk of harm. --Ruled the federal Superfund law does not allow those who clean up their environmental contamination to recover legal fees they incur in getting other polluters to help pay for the cleanup. --Refused to let a public school district charge church congregations higher rents than other noncommercial groups for the weeknight or weekend use of school buildings. In the drug-possession tax case, the court's decision also freed a family from having to pay $181,000 in dangerous-drug taxes for growing marijuana on the Chouteau County, Mont., ranch and farm it used to own. "Montana has not claimed that its assessment in this case even remotely approximates the cost of investigating, apprehending and prosecuting (the defendants), or that it roughly relates to any actual damages that they caused the state," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court. "This drug tax is not the kind of remedial sanction that may follow the first punishment of a criminal offense," he said, adding that the state might consider increasing the fines for criminal convictions. Stevens was joined by Justices Harry A. Blackmun, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Rehnquist said the decision "drastically alters existing law." "We have never previously subjected a tax statute to double jeopardy analysis," Rehnquist said. O'Connor called the ruling an "unwarranted expansion of our double jeopardy jurisprudence." Richard and Judith Kurth pleaded guilty after police and federal agents raided their farm in 1987 and found 2,155 marijuana plants and more than 100 pounds of harvested marijuana. Kurth had been a respected rancher and grain farmer, active in local and state affairs. He was Montana's Conservation Rancher of the Year in 1971. But by the mid-1980s, the Kurths' ranch was $2 million in debt. Trying to save it, the Kurths began growing and selling marijuana. They recruited their adult children and their spouses to help. Richard and Judith Kurth went to prison; daughter Cindy Halley and her husband, Clayton, son Douglas Kurth and his wife, Rhonda, and son William Kurth all drew suspended prison sentences. The family filed for bankruptcy protection but lost its ranch and farm. Now on parole and living in Post Falls, Idaho, Kurth does odd jobs for property management companies. In an interview with The Associated Press in January, Kurth said he wasn't sure what stake he had in the Supreme Court case. "They certainly can't get anything from us, because we don't have anything. The government has seen to that," Kurth said. "They know that they've taken absolutely everything from us." Montana officials said the drug-possession tax was aimed at eliminating the need for tracing and seizing boats, cars, homes and other items bought with drug money. They said the tax was a revenue raiser. But lawyers for the Kurths called it a punishment. Today, the Supreme Court agreed with the Kurths. The Constitution says someone cannot be tried twice for the same crime, and the high court ruled 120 years ago that multiple punishments also are banned. More recently, the court in 1989 prevented federal authorities from imposing a civil penalty on a man who had been sentenced to prison and fined for mail fraud. The court ruled in the 1989 case that the civil penalty could be valid only if it was closely related to the loss to the government caused by the defendant's criminal conduct. If the civil penalty is aimed only at deterrence or retribution, it represents an unconstitutional second punishment, the court ruled then. In today's decision, Stevens said the 1989 ruling does not apply because tax laws are different from civil penalties. The case is State Department of Revenue vs. Kurth, 93-144. WP 06/07/94 Almost a Million PRISON POPULATION figures released by the Justice Department last week are startling. It has been common knowledge for some time that the number of Americans in penal institutions has been going up steadily, but it is now close to a million. That represents a three-fold increase over 1980 and an annual rate of increase of 8.5 percent. That growth rate must be halted if for no other reason than that it cannot be sustained financially. This situation is the result of a number of factors. While some communities report a decrease in crime over the past year or two, statistics are still much higher than they were 15 years ago. Mandatory minimum sentences have swollen the prison rolls, and much-needed tighter parole policies have kept the institutions crowded. More and more drug offenders are being incarcerated - they make up 30 percent of new prison admissions - in part because of mandatory minimum sentences. Bricks and mortar are not the answer. The country cannot keep up the pace required to provide facilities for more than 1,000 new prisoners a week. While crime prevention remains the long-run goal, there are realistic and more immediate steps that can be taken to address the prison problem. The first should be the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences, especially in drug cases. Then a firm line must be drawn between violent and nonviolent offenders, with nonprison alternative punishments found for the latter. There is no question that those who commit murder, armed robbery, rape and the like are a menace and need to be isolated not only to punish and perhaps rehabilitate them but to protect society. But most other offenders can be penalized without incarceration if resources are available. Nonviolent criminals, even those who embezzle large amounts or betray the public trust, can be made to pay confiscatory fines, to make reparation for their crimes and to perform sentences of hard work under monitoring. We are not thinking of easy alternative chores but of real penalties of appropriate duration that would severely restrict private life and be seen by the public as justly punitive. The supervision would be key. Intensive probation is expensive, but it works and it saves money. Electronic monitoring of geographic restrictions is ineffective if violations aren't spotted and punished. Work release is a joke if prisoners simply walk away from a halfway house, as they have done in the District. But even undertaken with sufficiently heavy monitoring, none of these steps would cost as much as incarceration, and each might offer a better prospect of rehabilitation. There is much room for strenuous argument about all of this. We say only that the argument should be going on in our mainstream politics now. Realistic alternatives to prison need to be explored, not out of misguided sympathy for criminals but rather for the sake of citizens who deserve protection from violent criminals and more effective, less bankrupting penalties for the rest. WP 06/07/94 Court Voids Tax on Illegal Drugs, Casting Doubt on a Popular Levy By Joan Biskupic Washington Post Staff Writer The Supreme Court yesterday threw out a Montana tax on illegal drugs in a 5 to 4 ruling that casts doubt on the validity of marijuana taxes used by more than 20 states to raise money. The justices said the Montana law, invoked against marijuana farmers convicted of drug crimes, wrongly punished people twice for the same offense. The court rejected arguments from the Justice Department that the tax had a strong revenue-raising, rather than punitive, purpose and ruled for the first time that a tax could violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy. "This tax, imposed on criminals and no others, departs so far from normal revenue laws as to become a form of punishment," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was among those dissenting, countered that the ruling "will be felt acutely by law-abiding taxpayers, because it will seriously undermine the ability of the state and federal governments to collect recompense for the immense costs criminals impose on our society." Most of the tax laws O'Connor cited were enacted in the last three years as part of the "war on drugs." The Montana statute called for plants to be taxed at $100 an ounce or 10 percent of market value, whichever is greater. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, dissenting separately, compared the Montana scheme to valid "sin taxes," such as those on cigarettes or alcohol, which are intended to raise money and deter conduct. A critical flaw in Montana's tax, according to Stevens, is its link to a criminal conviction. Traditional taxes on proceeds from prostitution, gambling and other wrongdoing levied independent of prosecution are not affected by the decision. The drug case began when Richard Kurth and five members of his extended family began cultivating and selling marijuana in 1986 on their family farm in central Montana. The justices noted that the Kurths had turned to the illegal crop to save their grain and livestock ranch from bankruptcy. In October 1987, two weeks after the Montana drug tax took effect, the farm was raided and all the marijuana plants confiscated. Kurth was convicted of felony drug charges, and his wife, Judith, their two adult children and their spouses pleaded guilty to related charges. The state then tried to collect an estimated $900,000 in taxes on the marijuana; that amount was reduced to about $200,000 by a bankruptcy judge. But that court and others that handled the Kurth case also concluded that the assessment constituted a form of double jeopardy. The Fifth Amendment provides that "No person ... shall ... be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." "As a general matter, the unlawfulness of an activity does not prevent its taxation," Stevens wrote. "Montana, no doubt, could collect its tax on the possession of marijuana, for example, if it had not previously punished the taxpayer for the same offense, or, indeed, if it had assessed the tax in the same proceeding that resulted in his conviction." Stevens acknowledged that typically taxes arise from a state's interest in raising money rather than in punishing people. "Yet at some point, an exaction labeled as a tax approaches punishment," he said, pointing to the "high rate" of the tax, that it was intended as a deterrent to drug dealing and that it is conditioned on the commission of a crime. "Taken as a whole, this drug tax is a concoction of anomalies, too far removed in crucial respects from a standard tax assessment to escape characterization as punishment for the purpose of double jeopardy analysis," Stevens said. He was joined by Justices Harry A. Blackmun, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Antonin Scalia, like O'Connor and Rehnquist, wrote a separate dissenting statement. Joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, Scalia said that the Constitution's double jeopardy clause prohibits successive prosecution, not successive punishment. He said the tax did not amount to a second criminal prosecution. The ruling in Montana Department of Revenue v. Kurth Ranch does not affect states' ability to impose larger fines or forfeiture against drug defendants, provided they do not breach the Eighth Amendment guarantee against excessive fines. James H. Goetz, the Kurths' lawyer, said the family had relocated to Idaho and tried to start anew. In a separate ruling yesterday, the court in a 6 to 3 vote said a criminal's prior misdemeanor conviction can be used to lengthen a new prison sentence even if the criminal did not have a lawyer helping him in the first case. The Sixth Amendment requires that defendants charged with felonies, or misdemeanors that can lead to prison time, be assisted by lawyers in their defense. In this case, Kenneth O. Nichols argued that a drunken driving conviction should not have been used to boost the prison time for a later drug conviction (by two years) because he had not been represented by a lawyer at the earlier proceeding. He maintained that consideration of the misdemeanor conviction in establishing his sentence violated the Sixth Amendment, as interpreted by court cases. Yesterday the court for the first time allowed the use of minor-crime convictions that lacked lawyer involvement. Rehnquist, who wrote for the majority, said repeat offender laws penalize "only the last offense committed" and " ... as a general proposition, a sentencing judge may appropriately conduct an inquiry broad in scope" into the prior convictions and past conduct of a defendant. Justices Blackmun, Stevens and Ginsburg dissented in Nichols v. United States, saying that uncounseled convictions lack reliability and should not be used to justify a longer prison sentence. RTna 06/08/94 UB40 TO COMPLETE N.ZEALAND TOUR DESPITE DRUG FIND WELLINGTON (Reuter) - British rock group UB40 will be allowed to complete a tour of New Zealand despite two band members being caught in possession of cannabis, officials said on Thursday. Police said the two, who were not named, were questioned at Auckland airport Wednesday after a sniffer dog detected the drug. They were given official warnings, but no charges were filed. Immigration officials said they had decided to let the pair enter the country and complete the tour. The decision had been made after "considered judgment on the part of the immigration officials handling the case," Immigration Service spokesman Bob Patterson said in a statement. REUTER RTw 06/08/94 BRITAIN REJECTS POLICE CALL TO DECRIMINALISE DRUGS (Eds: Adds British government refusal to relax laws) LONDON, June 8 (Reuter) - The head of the international police group Interpol backed British police calls on Wednesday for all drugs to be decriminalised, but the government said no. "I am in favour of decriminalisation but not in favour of legalisation," Raymond Kendall, secretary general of the International Criminal Police Organisation, told BBC radio. "I think we should accept the reality of the situation... that there are many, many drug users who are living in a situation of illegality already," he added. Prime Minister John Major disagreed. "I don't agree with softening the law," he told Sky News television. "It would legitimise the taking of drugs. That leads from soft drugs to hard drugs, and too often leads to crime." "What I believe we need to do is cut off the supply of drugs and better educate people." Kendall said drug use was more of a social and health issue than a police problem and that the legal emphasis should be placed on drug trafficking. "Since they (drug users) cannot be brought into the justice system and the police are simply cautioning generally the average cannabis user -- we have a situation that says most of these people are not being dealt with by the law, which is not a healthy situation to be in," he said. Kendall later told the annual drugs conference of Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers, which is also promoting decriminalisation, that police had to concentrate on the organised crime syndicates that ran drug trafficking. Interpol, based in Lyons, France, is devoted chiefly to fighting international crime and aims to promote and assure mutual assistance between police offices in its more than 150 member countries. The police conference discussed various schemes to regulate the British illegal drugs trade, worth an estimated five billion pounds ($7.5 billion) a year. REUTER RTna 06/08/94 INTERPOL CHIEF URGES DECRIMINALIZATION OF DRUGS LONDON (Reuter) - The head of the international police group Interpol called Wednesday for the decriminalization of drug possession by users. "I am in favor of decriminalization but not in favor of legalization," Raymond Kendall, secretary general of the International Criminal Police Organization, told BBC radio. "I think we should accept the reality of the situation ... that there are many, many drug users who are living in a situation of illegality already," he added. Kendall said drug use was more of a social and health issue than a police problem and that the legal emphasis should be placed on drug trafficking. "Since they (drug users) cannot be brought into the justice system and the police are simply cautioning generally the average cannabis user -- we have a situation that says most of these people are not being dealt with by the law, which is not a healthy situation to be in," he said. "You will get immediate results if you take strong police action to seize more drugs and arrest more traffickers. But you are not dealing with the basic issue of drug abuse and that is where you have to get the message across," he added. Interpol, based in Lyons, France, is devoted chiefly to fighting international crime and aims to promote and assure mutual assistance between police offices in its more than 150 member countries. Kendall's remarks coincided with the annual drugs conference of Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers, which is also promoting decriminalization. The group was discussing various schemes to regulate the illicit drug trade in Britain which is worth an estimated $7.5 billion a year. REUTER UPn 06/09/94 Albania begins anti-drug campaign TIRANA, June 9 (UPI) -- Albanian police arrested two more farmers for growing cannabis as part of a government policy to crack down on the relatively new problem of drug trafficking, a government official said Thursday. Ludimilla Pajo, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Order, said the two farmers were arrested in the Durresi district, some 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Tirana. Petrit Milaci, 51, and Nazmi Istrefi, 37, were each charged with growing cannabis on 48 square-yard (40 sq-m) plots of land, she said. Until recently, Tirana authorities shrugged off the danger of drug trafficking in the country, arguing that Albanians were too poor to buy drugs. Attitudes changed after it became clear Albania was being used as a conduit for drugs heading to or from the more lucrative markets of Greece and Italy. Tirana police chief Safet Stasa told United Press International he was afraid Albania could become a staging point for drugs moved along the East-West route and that growing prosperity would make Albanians victims as well. The newspaper Gazeta Sitare said Albania has been drawn into a network of stopover points extending into Turkey, Macedonia and Italy, with most of the drugs intended eventually for the West European markets. The ministry arrested six farmers from other districts for being in possession of hashish and they were sentenced in October to 5-7 years in prison. Another farmer was arrested earlier at Ersika, some 14 miles (20 km) from the Greek-Albanian border, for planting 3.75 acres (1.5 hectares) with cannibis. UPf 06/09/94 Ibero-American summit to tackle drug problem By FEDERICO FULLEDA BOGOTA (UPI) -- Drug production, trafficking and consumption figure prominently on the agenda of next week's meeting of 19 Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal. Represented there will be the world's three largest producers of coca leaf and cocaine -- Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. But the world's No. 1 drug consumer -- the United States -- will be absent from the IV Ibero- American Summit on June 13-15 in this port city, 705 miles north of Bogota. According to the chairman of the Foundation for a Drug-Free Venezuela, Vladimir Gessen, the Andean region produces every year some 1,170 tons of cocaine, 75 percent of which is shipped to the $181- billion U.S. drug market. The "business" has a heavy impact on Latin American economies. According to Gessen, cocaine production in the Andean countries cost about $5,000 per kilo, which represents an investment of $5.85 billion. The average price on the U.S. wholesale market increases to $25,000 per kilo, for an approximate income of $29.9 billion. "Drug trafficking is everywhere and is corrupting institutions once thought of as untouchable", said Venezuelan judge Mildred Camero after 32 suspect traffickers were acquitted in May. "We must take a firm stand against drugs." According to estimates by Mexico's attorney general's office, quoted by news reports, drug traffickers in that country will reap this year some $30 billion, equal to one sixth of the total cocaine consumption in the United States. Since January 1993, Mexican authorities have seized 65.5 tons of marijuana, 16.3 tons of cocaine and 10 kilograms of heroine in the Tijuana region alone. The summit's host, Presidenstrict anti- drug policy, but the last three months of his mandate, ending in August, will be marked by a national controversy over legalization of drugs. On May 5, Colombia's Constitutional Court abolished penalties against individuals detained with small quantities of cocaine, marijuana, or other psycoactive substances deemed "for personal use." Some saw in the ruling a first step toward legalization. Gaviria said his government will abide by the court's ruling but does not agree with it, arguing that such leniency would promote an increase in drug consumption in the country. Colombia has also repeated its demand to the international community for tighter controls on the chemicals used to elaborate cocaine. Peru is the world's largest producer of coca leaf, processed in base paste and transferred to Colombia in clandestine flights to be elaborated into the chloral hydrate alkaloid cocaine. Authorities estimate that coca plantations cover some 200,000 hectares in the Peruvian Amazon, where almost 700,000 hectares of forest have been razed and desertified in a growing environmental disaster. Paste-processing laboratories have dumped on the ground, rivers and lakes 9.7 million gallons of kerosene, 8.5 million gallons of sulphuric acid, 16 tons of lime among other chemicals, with murderous impact on wildlife. In Peru, where nearly 1 million people work in coca-related activities, drug traffickers have formed alliances with guerrilla groups for mutual protection against security forces, and corruption has spread to police, the military, the courts and civilian authorities. The Interior Ministry has estimated that Shining Path leader Oscar Alberto Ramirez, a.k.a. "President Feliciano," has amassed a $200- million war chest from drug traffickers' kickbacks in the Huallaga region where legal crops as cassava, rice and corn yield only some $30 million a year. Experts said the Peruvian economy receives every year between $600 million and $1 billion from drug-trafficking activities. Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada has warned about a "narcoguerrilla" in the Andean countries unless a regional policy is quickly implemented to fight against the organized gangs of producers and traffickers. In the Bolivian region of El Chapare, where 60,000 tons of coca leaf are produced every year, "nobody anymore chews coca -- the traditional use -- and most of it goes for the production of drugs," Sanchez said. A crop substitution program in El Chapare has eliminated 25,000 hectares of coca plantations, which amounts to $50 million in compensation. However, according to Felipe Caceres, executive secretary of the Special Federation of Peasant Workers of the Tropics, the former coca growers who received $2,000 per hectare of coca bushes destroyed are emigrating to Argentina and Chile, taking with them some $20 million in compensation money, because the government has not provided infrastructure for alternative activities. In Montevideo, the weekly Brecha reported that the Uruguayan government had set up last March a special unit under the Interior Ministry, to fight what is perceived as an increasing infiltration of international drug gangs in the country's economy and institutions. The government of President Luis Lacalle did not confirm or deny the report. In Paraguay,, the head of the National Narcotics Directorate, Ret. Gen. Publio Fretes, stated the country urgently needs a law to stop money laundering. "Money is being laundered on a regular basis in Paraguay," Fretes said. "There is no other explanation for the ease with which so many people mysteriously invest money in our country." The head of Paraguay's National Antidrug Secretariat, Brig. Gen. (ret) Ramon rosa Rodriguez, said that Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia and Paraguay will coordinate their efforts against drugs. UPce 06/09/94 Man sentenced for transporting marijuana EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill., June 9 (UPI) -- A Rhode Island man has been sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for his conviction of possession of 329 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute. Stephen Willis, 39, of Cranston, R.I., was sentenced Wednesday by U. S. District Judge William Beatty in East St. Louis. The judge could have sentenced Willis to a maximum of more than seven years in prison. Willis was arrested last December while driving on Interstate 55-70 in Collinsville, about 10 miles east of St. Louis. Illinois State Police found 329 pounds of marijuana concealed in hidden compartments inside a 1966 Porsche, which Willis had been towing on a trailer. Willis had been driving the marijuana from Arizona to Rhode Island, where he planned to sell it for about $500,000, prosecutors said. Federal authorities also confiscated the Porsche, which they said belonged to Willis's sister. APn 06/10/94 Boot Camp Suspended By LISA MARIE PANE Associated Press Writer HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The governor abruptly suspended operation of a boot camp-style school for troubled teen-agers Friday because of gangs, drugs and fighting. Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. acted after the state's chief prosecutor delivered a report sharply critical of the National Guard Youth Corps camp, the first established in the nation under a federal program. Fist-fights, sex, drug use and gambling disrupted the boot camp, Chief State's Attorney John Bailey said in his report. Gang members had tried to recruit other corps members before being expelled, Bailey said. Brig. Gen. David D. Boland resigned as the program's director earlier this month amid news reports about troubles at the camp, which opened last summer in the southeastern Connecticut town of Niantic. While there was sex between some of the girls and boys enrolled in the Youth Corps, Bailey said reports of prostitution were unfounded. He said only one fight at the camp involved weapons, and that most of the drug use was confined to marijuana. He disputed reports of wide-scale gambling at the camp and said it consisted mostly of small bets on the basketball court. Connecticut's program was the first of 10 federally subsidized National Guard Youth Corps camps. The other states are: Illinois, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, New York, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Maryland and West Virginia. Connecticut received about $4 million in federal funds, which was to be used to educate 400 students in a year's time. The program had already graduated 180 students. Its last class of students will graduate July 2 as planned. The camps are designed to help high-school dropouts earn equivalency diplomas. Students who graduate from the five-month program leave with a $2,200 stipend from the government as an incentive to further their education. The Weicker administration and the Connecticut National Guard said suspending the program would give the state time to find ways to improve it. The program could be resurrected within six months. "Seeing as this is the premiere, any pilot you're going to find the bugs," said state Rep. Pamela Z. Sawyer. Bailey recommended conducting background checks on applicants to determine if they are gang members or use drugs. He also recommended random drug testing of corps members. RTw 06/10/94 U.N. MISSION SAYS NO DRUGS CULTIVATION IN LEBANON BAALBEK, Lebanon, June 10 (Reuter) - A visiting U.N. drugs enforcement mission said on Friday there was no trace of drugs cultivation in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley -- a hotbed for the narcotics trade during the civil war. "Our tour confirmed there is no drugs cultivation in the Bekaa Valley," mission official Major-General Mohammad Mansour told reporters after a visit to site in the fertile plain and flanking hills where narcotics used to be grown. The Lebanese government began a campaign two years ago to eradicate the cultivation, trafficking or production of drugs in Lebanon, especially the Bekaa. Another official of the United Nations mission said it would press donor countries to help Lebanon find alternative crops for Bekaa farmers to ensure that they don't go back to growing opium or cannabis. The Beirut government has asked the agency to publish "realistic figures" on Lebanon's drug production in order to refujte claims the country is one of the largest opium and marijuana exporters in the world, newswpapers said this week. "We want the truth that Lebanon is no longer a drug producing country to be told," the papers quoted Deputy Prime Minister Michel al-Murr as saying after meeting members of the mission which arrived in Beirut on Monday. Murr said the only drugs still available in Lebanon were those produced three years ago which have been hidden. REUTER RTw 06/10/94 SINGAPORE TO HANG NIGERIAN DRUG-TRAFFICKER SINGAPORE, June 10 (Reuter) - A 40-year-old Nigerian was sentenced to death by the Singapore High Court for drug-trafficking, state television reported on Friday. Sabinus Nkem Okpebie was arrested at Singapore Changi Airport last September with 6.58 kg (14.5 pounds) of heroin. The drugs were hidden in the tubes of two televisions in his luggage. Okpebie arrived from Jakarta and intended to fly on to Lagos, the Nigerian capital, the report said. Under Singapore's strict anti-drugs laws, the death sentence is mandatory for anyone found guilty of trafficking more than 15 grams (half an ounce) of heroin, 30 grams (one ounce) of morphine or 500 grams (18 ounces) of cannabis. Singapore has hanged 59 people for drug trafficking since it introduced tough anti-drug laws in 1975. REUTER
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