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A police dog who cried drugs at every traffic stop (reason.com)
539 points by pessimizer 27 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 411 comments

Highlighting this part, which might otherwise go unnoticed:

> Instead of birthday cake and ice cream, she got jail food and a bill for hygiene supplies

To spell it out, although she wasn't charged in the criminal sense, she was "charged" financially—for the privilege of experiencing false arrest.

There are other states with extremely messed up legal processes, such as those where not only convicted persons receive a bill for their public defender (which at least makes some sense, logically) but states where you are on hook for thousands of dollars even in the event that you are never tried or you are tried and found not guilty.

> you are on hook for thousands of dollars even in the event that you are never tried or you are tried and found not guilty.

You're on the hook for thousands of dollars even if you're never charged!

Don't forget about the bail loan firms. Say, you're arrested and kept on a $20K bail. Even if you have the money in the bank, the only way to pay is by cash or money order. They won't accept personal check, they won't accept wire transfer, they won't accept nothing. You can't buy a money order from your cell. But they will helpfully refer you to a bail loan firm. They take away your phone, so you won't be shopping around much - their referral is all you have. And, unless you happen to have a suitcase full of cash with you, this is the only practical way to pay. Bail loan firms charge 10-15% of the bond, which, of course, they get to keep even if you show up in court as promised, regardless of whether you're found guilty or even charged with anything. This is such a profitable scam those firms will do anything to keep the current system in place.

US justice system is probably more corrupt than some African countries, yet nobody is even talking about it.

Looking at it from the outside (Europe) I am always surprised when some investigation occurs after some documentary or other media event instead of when the crime occurred (Cosby, R Kelly).

Same thing happens in Europe too. Two cases I can think of in my country are Jonathan Jacob and Jozef Chovanec. Both investigations only started rolling when someone leaked recordings of what happened in their cells to the media. The government has very few incentives to investigate their own, that's why media is an invaluable part of democracy.

That is also why media is one of the first targets of most "electoral" autocracies. This can be seen in European countries like Hungary and Turkey where independent media has more or less disappeared, and they are massively attacked by other governments like Poland.

Furthermore, that is why public broadcasting is a primary target of populist/far-right campaigns in most other countries too: their propaganda focuses on the unpopular "unjustified" broadcast fees, while they really want to get rid of these largely independent stations, and replace them with commercial competitors that are controlled by media moguls instead of democratic structures.

I'm always sad to see the negative stand against all the media on forums like here or reddit.

From my central European perspective, (serious) media are so incredibly important for our society and democracy.

I understand that the USA has somewhat more independent and strong public institutions than us and can rely on them, but still.

As an American, I say that the media IS important. That’s why its all too frequent bias and sloppiness is so problematic.

Where I live, false or exaggerated headlines are the norm. Scary headlines are lucrative! If we can’t depend on the media to do its job right, then who does that function?

Agreed. I happen to be very critical of the media and I think the media is an invaluable institution. These aren’t contradictory statements, I criticize because I care (however cliche that may sound). I share the media’s political biases for the most part—I’m a liberal—but that the whole of the mainstream media (and academia, etc) is so uniformly, overtly, and explicitly biased in the same direction is IMO one of the drivers for our national division and for right-wing mistrust in our national institutions.

And yes, I know all of the rhetorical defenses for a propagandist media (“no one is perfectly neutral so why bother trying?”, “you have to choose between the progressive narrative and literal Naziism”, etc).

Sinclair and Murdochs empire (the two most consumed sources of media in the us) both skew heavily right.

Why is fox, the largest tv news channel, never allowed to count as mainstream?

Given that the media in Europe is chock-full of lies and/or accidental falsehoods (depending on your outlook on life), I'm really interested in why you think it's important (other than as a tool for mass manipulation, for which I'd say we may almost have invented more effective tools depending on how you scope 'media').

It's important because it uncovers crime and corruption, asks politicians and institutions tough questions and keeps them in check.

The situation in Hungary has gone really south once there was no strong independent media outlet left. Poland is following a similar path.

That one isn’t an American phenomenon, that happens here in Australia too to some extent

Is there a justice system anywhere in the world that actually does state-driven financial punishment on police to disincentivize false arrest? (E.g. all costs stemming from a false arrest being taken as treble damages from the department and awarded to the innocent accused, automatically, without the accused having to bother to sue?)

There's no need for that when no one profits from a false arrest or false conviction. Civil asset forfeiture, bail loan firms, for profit prisons, breathtakingly expensive phone calls and all sorts of other scams are pretty much unheard of anywhere else and we honestly can believe what we are reading when we see these .

> There's no need for that when no one profits from a false arrest or false conviction.

You underestimate the power of racism, homophobia and other things that drive some people, plus the feeling of having power over other people (and also, if a crime has been committed, the drive to make culprits out of innocents if police cannot find the real ones).

Sure, the US has some amazingly broken systems that seem to foster endemic corruption, but even without them it’s not enough to guarantee that a police force behaves appropriately (we just had a case in france where at least two people have done 1.5 years and 4 years in detention based on a made-up testimony forced by police officers caught on video, and the police unions and the far-right are still screaming that justice is too lenient and the liberation is a scandal).

I don’t understand how this would work. Is the idea that racists know about these scams and vote to protect them legally? I didn’t know about these and I consider myself pretty informed, while I (unsurprisingly) haven’t met any informed racists.

No doubt racism is real (especially in the criminal justice system), but it feels like Occam’s Razor would favor the “incentives” argument here.

There is a lot of information out there on this topic. But I will try to summarize my understanding of what goes on in the USA.

There is institutional racism in our system. These are laws from long ago, that stick around due to inertia. They end up punishing POC more. When changing these laws comes up for debate, it's not that hooded KKK stand up and protect them, it's that the laws been around for decades. The laws don't affect the majority white population. They are defended uses words like, lazy, poor, criminals, bad part of town...Those words don't tend to bring to mind white middle class people. Then the laws stick around. Or new laws are pass using the same methods.

You don't have to say racist things in the US in order to defend racist laws. There are a myriad of code words you can use instead. Also, many people don't realize just how racist we are as a culture. The Christian church in America has deep racism issues.(read White Too Long by Robert P. Jones)

The US population has been raised by generations of racists so we just literally don't see it anymore. It doesn't affect the majority, so it isn't an issue. Each time a problem is brought up, it's usually dismissed out of hand. We love our victim blaming, our blind eyes, our justifications, and our fear.

Yes, there are massive incentives and money to be made in the criminal justice system. But they only exist because of who they are keeping down. And why don't we care about the ones being kept underfoot?

I don't doubt these things are true to some degree in the abstract, but I don't understand how precisely these things apply to the specific extortive practices discussed above. Are you claiming that these practices have racist roots (I don't know and I'm not challenging; I just can't tell what if anything you're implying)? Are you claiming that these practices are maintained because of some ongoing racist attitudes which don't appear to be racist because "most Americans are so racist they don't perceive racism" or some such? What are the specific hypothetical mechanics at play here?

Racism, indifference, otherizing, victim blaming, self re-enforcing cycles/punishments(https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/19/opinion/charles-blow-how-..., is a great example of how we pile on fines)

If you want me to point to a single person or law I can't. There are hundreds of them, but very few of them written today are based on the color of your skin, the politicians got wise to that. If you really want to dive into this topic. Then I suggest reading a book or article that covers the topic of racism in America today. Preferably written by a POC.

I've read a lot about it, and much of it has the same problem as your earlier comment--it's too vague to confer any kind of understanding. To be quite clear, I don't actually doubt that there is a prejudice against people of color in the criminal justice system; however, most of the "anti-racist" literature with which I'm familiar doesn't posit a testable model for how the system works to perpetuate injustice, and without said testable model there's no hope for solutions.

> Preferably written by a POC.

I'm not a big fan of using race as a proxy for academic authority.

Ah, the system is really simple.

Since 1964 at least it is.

Some rich white men convinced a majority of American whites anything is better than "handouts" to people of color. They can and do rely on this majority to vote themselves into ruin if that's the price for people of color to get nothing. Instead of living in prosperity together, Americans vote to live in poverty together if that's what it takes. It's astounding.

By any measure, the United States by now is a failed state because of this. Hard to believe but it is.

What do you mean by, 'it's too vague to confer any kind of understanding'

It's not enough to characterize every disparate outcome as "systemic racism" and then to "fight systemic racism". We need to talk about what are the specific unjust factors that contribute to these disparities and identify solutions to combat them.

An example of putting forth a concrete, actionable model and proposing a solution might be (and note that this is only an example):

* jurors are more likely to convict a black defendant than a white defendant

* we believe that jurors see racial disparities in crime committance and project them onto defendants

* to combat this, we might try promoting cultural integration to reduce the racial disparities in crime committance as well as advocating for colorblind antiracism so jurors are less likely to see a defendant as a token of his race

The important thing is that the example (1) puts forth a testable model for how the system works and (2) proposes solutions based on that model. You may find yourself disagreeing with our hypothetical model, and that's fine. Note that you can even debate it because it's testable (you can probably conceive of data which rebut it). This is in contrast to esoteric debates about systemic racism, which seem more religious in nature than useful for combatting unjust disparities.

But this is great right? What you just wrote? I'm confused now. Is this what you wanted me to say? This is why I point you to research books or articles. Or even follow actual politicians on what work they are doing. I'm not going to have this. I'm a software developer removed from the issue mostly.

But if you know that black people are more likely convicted than a white person(they also get longer sentences for the same crimes), then why are you asking as if you don't know. Overall, you've ended up raising more questions than answering...

> But this is great right? What you just wrote? I'm confused now. Is this what you wanted me to say?

I don't know how to parse this. What are you trying to communicate here?

> This is why I point you to research books or articles.

I'm pretty widely-read on this subject, and yet there is no indication that this is converging on something useful.

> Or even follow actual politicians on what work they are doing

If the literature isn't forthright, why would a politician be different? Who are the honest, forthright politicians to whom I should be listening?

> But if you know that black people are more likely convicted than a white person(they also get longer sentences for the same crimes), then why are you asking as if you don't know.

I'm not asking whether black people are more likely to be convicted or not, I'm asking what utility there is in framing the problem with esoterics.

> Overall, you've ended up raising more questions than answering...

Right, I'm asking a question, and explicitly not positing any answers, so of course I'm raising more questions than answers.

95% of trials don't go to a jury

To be fair, jury trials look medieval for people who come from a country where judges are professionals. And plea deals, don't even get me started.

Genuine question: what countries are you referring to? Also, I'm unfamiliar with any philosophy that posits that jury trials are lesser to judge trials. Isn't the whole point of trial by jury that juries are less likely to be partial than judges ("professionalism" doesn't stop a judge from being corrupt or from a classist selection bias in which judges are chosen from the upper echelons of society and thus biased accordingly)? No doubt there are tradeoffs between judges and juries, I just thought the consensus was "juries are fairer".

The way jury trials are portrayed in American media -selection bias of jurors, prosecutor deciding what evidence and significantly limiting the power of juries - I rather prefer the way it's done in European countries (and in Latin American ones like mine which copy Europe usually).

> If you want me to point to a single person or law I can't. There are hundreds of them

I'd think someone would need to find and make a list of those laws and problems, and ways to explain to the voters how those laws are unfair against POC. And how the laws should be changed, maybe removed, many of them?

For a change to happen, there needs to be concrete specific steps of problems and things to actually do

(I'm not saying that you or anyone here should do this, just that some people, somewhere, needs to? I'd guess/think that BLM has gotten started a bit? Eg de funding the police, maybe that's one concrete thing to do, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defund_the_police)

I was just answering the parent by saying that no, police do not need to have financial incentives to make up cases and lock up innocents; and therefore there stills needs to be a way to punish corrupt police officers and departments even if those incentives do not exist.

Obviously financial incentives are a key motivator for many people in forces as well, I was only saying that this can happen even if there is no money to make.

Ah, thanks for clarifying. No doubt racism can explain arrests and undue charges, but the context of the thread is about institutional extortive practices (bail loans, etc). So we still need “financial incentives” to explain these extortive practices.

Add mugshot sites recently discussed on HN to the list [1]. Who would have guessed shit like this can even exist?

All those scams have to stop being dirty little secrets, there needs to be public outrage built around it.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27153800

Some policemen beat up people of color, just because those policemen think it's fun. (Not only in the US)

> ...state-driven financial punishment on police...

You need to stop thinking that punishment works. Punishing people, like with dogs, rarely serves any purpose beyond "feeling of justice".

Such "feelings of justice" don't tend to make the world a better place.

I'm no expert, but if you remove perverse incentives and train officers to resolve conflicts without violence, then you'll probably get very far.

Prosecuting police officers is a difficult way to change policing culture.

If punishment doesn't work (and it doesn't) then we don't need prisons and jails as they currently exist, nor do we need police as they currently exist. There's no point to improving the police. Get rid of the punishment angle to policing, then give all the non-punishment jobs that police do to people who are far, far more qualified to handle them than the police are. Then you have essentially no police, so there's no need to improve them.

I suppose the difference is that in most other places in the world there would be no 'costs stemming from a false arrest' (I mean direct costs if you exclude things like the opportunity cost of lost time, and the damages/stress inflicted, etc).

In Germany you are compensated for a wrong arrest. (Base rate is 25€ per day, which isn't much, but you can claim additional reimbursements with some paperwork and help from your (state paid) lawyer)

Putting it on the officers is bad. They then tend to lean back and not take the personal risk.

You need clear guidance about when they have to arrest somebody and when not. And only secondary a system where abuse can be punished.

Personal risk? Law enforcement in the US is not as dangerous an occupation as their unions would like you to believe. And it's not like police are preventing crime. They're like janitor who come along after the crime has been committed.

that would punish justice systems for making mistakes, which if they are an honest system they are already being punished for because of course a mistake is the system being inefficient.

The purpose of awarding damages for false arrests is to punish malicious false arrests, or mistakes so egregious that we might as well consider them malicious, which some systems are more prone to than others.

As the justice system does have a lot of power - like arresting people - of course mistakes should be punished to some extend. And those people making those mistakes, usually have little concerns over the efficiency of the justice system.

fiat rules that do not handle things on a case by case basis are particularly prone to perverse incentives.

The US is the most corrupt because it has the high incarceration rate on the planet except Seychelles. Prisoners are almost exclusively men who are minorities or poor.

Like the Reagans, the greater society doesn't care about anything unless it affects them. So, they're perfectly fine with degrading, exploitative warehousing and slavery of humans for profit.

> And, unless you happen to have a suitcase full of cash with you

Oh, and if you are carrying a suitcase full of cash, expect it to be seized under asset forfeiture laws. Apparently carrying large sums of cash is evidence of criminality.

> Apparently carrying large sums of cash is evidence of criminality.

It's not even large sums of cash, people have had what amounts to a part-time paycheck at minimum wage seized because they made the mistake of having it on their person while they drove a car.

FWIW, I wouldn't say that nobody is talking about it. In the county where I live, the new county prosecutor moved to eliminate cash bail on his first day in office: https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2021/01/washtenaw-count...

IIRC the US is one of only two countries where it is legal to take money to post bail for someone you don't know (the other one is the Philippines).

> Unless you happen to have a suitcase full of cash with you

That would definitely not help you.

It's a mess on many many levels.

Sorry. If you have a briefcase full of cash that is definately going to be confiscated and you'll have to sue to try to get it back.

Also bail firms act as their own personal police. Old law dictates that the bail firm can seize you wherever you're at if you don't show up. So instead of actual police you get unidentified guys with guns and tasers breaking down doors without a warrent. Even if it's not your place.

> US justice system is probably more corrupt than some African countries, yet nobody is even talking about it.

Plenty of people talk about this. It's a lack of listening that's the problem.

And you felt the need to create a throwaway account, which already speaks enough about the state of affairs in the US.

we just talked about it. saw it in the news a few days back too

> US justice system is probably more corrupt than some African countries...

Nice to know African countries are a symbol and the pinnacle of dysfunction and corruption.

That's something at least.

There are literal league tables of corruption, and many African countries do not do well on them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index). It's not a simple case of tracking corruption either - the CPI is sometimes used to determine whether or not someone has broken international law trading with a country's government (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Corrupt_Practices_Act).


Have you been there? Its just true. They keep you waiting for hours if you dont bribe.

And those backwater control posts are just living of the land like 30 year war mercenaries. Sorry if reality is offensive.

You might want to consider that lots african governments and legal cultures are awful, completely disconnected from the colour of their citizens skin!

Some relatives of mine got to experience a fun little hostage situation with, "either you pay [absurd figure] per month for a couple years for drug rehab at a facility we chose, for your adult kid, plus smaller amounts of money for other stuff pretty much indefinitely, or or they rot in prison rather than getting out on probation".

On the one hand, the guy definitely did something bad. On the other hand, gee I wonder how generational cycles of poverty, driving future crime rates, happen. No mystery that the effects of criminality seems to afflict entire families when the justice system is actively contributing to that.

And no, it's not like they only got charged that much because they're flush with cash. I'm pretty sure the courts didn't give a damn whether they could afford it (technically, yes they could, but in anything resembling a financially-responsible sense, god no, not at all, they weren't starting from a great spot and it basically ruined them—the bread-winner will now work until he dies or gets so sick he can't anymore)

>Some relatives of mine got to experience a fun little hostage situation with, "either you pay [absurd figure] per month for a couple years for drug rehab at a facility we chose, for your adult kid, plus smaller amounts of money for other stuff pretty much indefinitely, or or they rot in prison rather than getting out on probation".

The entire host of companies people are forced to do business with by court order are like this. Rehab, post conviction monitoring, etc. etc. They're all scum. And they get away with it because nobody will defend criminals.

Every time something like OUI comes up in passing on HN there's be a miles long comment chain where everybody is piling on about how they're terrible people. Sure, fine, they may be, but they also have rights. People like you (probably you reading this very comment) are why ignition interlocks and ankle bracelets can be made that report false positives left and right, the companies that run them can charge stupid amounts of money and get away with it all. Because your principals go out the window as soon as someone is convicted of something you don't like.

It really does seem like these companies have a conflict of interests with creating a better society. If nobody is forced to do business with them then they'd go out of business, therefore it's in their best interests to make sure that doesn't happen.

Add JPay to that list for charging 25 cents “per page” to send an email to an inmate and another 25 cents for each photo attachment.

I know about ignition interlock devices – my company provides these – and there is a little more nuance to it than that.

Firstly (and depending on jurisdiction), IIDs have to pass fairly rigorous verification in an accredited laboratory before they are accepted for use.

Secondly, all IIDs are regularly (every one to two months) calibrated against ethanol/nitrogen gas certified to a set level, to ensure accuracy. In contrast, police breathalysers are usually calibrated every 6 to 9 months.

Thirdly, all breath alcohol testing devices (IIDs, fuel cell breathalysers, evidential infrared breathalysers) detect ethanol.

This is well and good, but ethanol is also present in miniscule quantities in a vast array of foods and drinks, in addition to beer, wine and spirits.

If someone has consumed these in the past couple of minutes, then takes a test, it will detect the ethanol.

Some examples that people commonly report using in vehicles, which all contain ethanol:

- anything fermented. Kombucha, ginger beer

- fresh bread, pizza, doughnuts [1][2]

- mouthwash, hand sanitiser

- some medications, including asthma medications

These are common everyday items, leading to an ethanol-detecting device detecting ethanol in a substance that contains ethanol. From the user perspective, this is a false positive.

From a technology perspective, this is working exactly as it should be.

Fourthly, alcohol readings caused by mouth contaminants aren't a surprise. Any sane jurisdiction will allow the user to take another test within a few minutes to prove they hadn't ingested alcohol (mouth contaminations will clear from the mouth within a few minutes, whereas ingested alcohol will show another alcohol reading).

To summarise: breath alcohol testing is an established technology with high standards to meet; ethanol is widely prevalent leading to IIDs detecting ethanol; recourse is available to prove the ethanol detected wasn't ingested alcohol.

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fermentation [2]: https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/22237/does-bread...

Don't forget pre-conviction monitoring and probation, or in legalese "case load". Forget innocent until proven guilty.

"And they get away with it because nobody will defend criminals."

If only we had some mantra/idiom/whatever the correct word is like "innocent until proven guilty"...

Here it is more about how you treat the proven guilty. The answer I think should be measured proportionally, and geared towards rehabilitation. Plea bargains and privatization of various aspects seem to go right against that. It takes away control of the court systems and gives it to the executive branch, to people who are measured on their conviction rate and arrests. This all badly needs reform, but good luck when the Supreme Court is now just another political game.

"Here it is more about how you treat the proven guilty."

That is a part of it.

"Cops laugh about “probable cause on four legs” but the damage to innocent lives is real."

This is the first sentence in the article. So I think this the mention of innocent until proven guilty is something to talk about concerning the article. The system treats you like a guilty person and stacks the deck against you. I think the plea bargaining that you mention falls into this. I would add that prosecutorial and law enforcement discretion is probably the biggest area of abuse. Because of this, bad laws stay on the book and can be enforced with bias because many people think "oh they wouldn't charge me with that". For example, in my state you can be put in jail for 90 days for your dog getting out of your yard. If it happens twice in one year, it's a misdemeanor. Pretty insane really, but people don't care because it's only enforced sometimes and they don't know how serious it can be.

>>On the one hand, the guy definitely did something bad

if the "bad thing" was voluntarily ingesting a chemical that state has no ethical authority to ban a person from ingesting into their own body then I would urge you to reformulate what you consider a "bad thing"

Drug Abuse can lead to all manner of actual crime (theft, Intoxicated Driving, etc) that has a degree of probability to harm OTHERS, this is where the states power can be ethically applies, when a persons actions can directly physically harm another person against that persons will.

However state power should never be considered ethical when they are attempting to "protect people from themselves" this mentality leads to all kinds of abuse by authority and create the very system that causes the issue you highlight

not to mention so can alcohol which is very legal, very marketed, well accepted, and also more deadly and addictive than many so called "dangerous drugs".

Alcohol does a great deal of harm simply because it’s very common and often severely abused. Few drugs are harmless when heavily abuse for decades drives up tolerance levels.

Lifetime ultra heavy pot smokers for example face significant lung cancer risks, though very few people are heavy daily pot smokers for 50+ years at this point.

At the other end, 1 glass of wine every day for 60 years is as far as we can tell on net harmless. Where even light daily pot smoking still causes some lung issues on those timescales. So yes, alcohol in and of it’s self can be deadly but it’s not nearly as bad as these comparisons generally suggest.

> At the other end, 1 glass of wine every day for 60 years is as far as we can tell on net harmless.

When it comes to mouth, esophageal and stomach cancers, even one drink a day increases your chances of developing them.

In isolation yes it can cause a very small increase in cancer. But it also has other upsides such as reduced cardiovascular issues.

Therefore you need to take net not individual health impacts, which is more complicated. Remember the scale 55% of adult Americans drink at least monthly and those cancers are still rare and also associated with soda consumption etc.

> alcohol in and of it’s self can be deadly but it’s not nearly as bad as these comparisons generally suggest.

This is such a weird view.

Alcohol is addictive, causes a huge variety of mental health issues and can kill through both chronic and acute exposure.

It's not just that use is widespread, and if it is abused, that's part of the issue, that people are prone to abuse it!

It’s not safe, but a neutral comparison is to compare all users over all timescales. As such an infinitesimal number of alcohol users OD very early on but that’s extraordinarily rare. Chronic use is relatively common, and while not generally deadly for decades has significant issues.

By comparison even clean opioids are more deadly long term. Pot has different Heath effects but is not safe when consumed to excess with extremely heavy users facing mental and physical issues, which can for example result in cancer or traffic related deaths.

Which again isn’t to say alcohol is safe, but rather heavy drug is generally bad independent of drug type.

I’m not arguing otherwise, but the apologetics around alcohol concern me because all too often we hear “oh it’s only a beer”, and “well of course some people have problems but most are ok” used in the same breath as “cannabis causes mental health problems”, utterly disregarding that alcohol does too.

People don’t evaluate alcohol use the same way as they do drug use and they should. When honestly evaluated that way alcohol is right up there in terms of harm.

You can’t put it all down to how common it is, and neither can you write off ‘abuse’ as a separate issue, abuse potential is all part of the harm profile.

You’re correct.

My context was someone saying well accepted, and also more deadly and addictive than many so called "dangerous drugs" which is a common argument but as far as I can see biased in the other direction. ~55% of adult Americans drank alcohol in the last month, it’s hard to find illegal drugs that would be safe at that scale and level of use.

Micro dosing LSD for example is likely comparable to some moderate alcohol use. But, if 55% of the population was self administering LSD it wouldn’t be limited to people micro dosing. Many would push thing to much higher levels regularly. That’s really the only thing I meant by separating out people abusing alcohol. It’s part of the spectrum of use, but not the only point of comparison.

> ~55% of adult Americans drank alcohol in the last month, it’s hard to find illegal drugs that would be safe at that scale and level of use.

In that same month about 8000 people in the US died from alcohol-related issues. So I'm losing sight of your point?

Booze just is well established in the literature (AFAICT) as more addictive and more deadly than many/most other recreational drugs. Generally excluding tobacco, opiates, cocaine or methamphetamine, sure, but experts in the field tend to rank it more or less with them. If you don't think the people studying this stuff have taken the widespread nature of alcohol's use into account ... well I think they likely have.

LSD, your example there, is generally considered non (or relatively non) habit-forming, we'd be unlikely ever to see chronic health effects there. At the doses it's commonly used we'd be unlikely to see acute mortalities (though vasoconstriction can be a side-effect), though I imagine some idiots would still take it and get in the car. Result - even if available freely and used widely, it's very likely it would cause fewer deaths and other societal problems than booze.

Remember holistic comparison not just specific areas that support your argument.

Those alcohol related deaths include car accidents. If ~150,000,000 people in the US regularly took LSD you would get a significant increase in such accidents independent of any other health effects. Falls, suicides and other mental Heath related deaths would also increase. LSD related deaths are hard to track as only ~0.1% of adult are active users but from the data we have 8k deaths per month at that scale is roughly within the margin for error.

Now, you can reasonably argue that fewer than 150 million people would take LSD but that’s hardly making it safer for those who would. It’s just arguing Alcohol is popular not that it’s inherently more dangerous.

>> Now, you can reasonably argue that fewer than 150 million people would take LSD but that’s hardly making it safer for those who would.

Of course it is. Wow.

LSD is not habit forming. That's the point. This is so frustrating and you keep ignoring it. LSD does not present the same danger to the individual as alcohol because people are not drawn to keep using it in the same way. This in itself reduces the dangers of chronic problems, because lifetime exposure is reduced. It also reduces the liklihood of acute problems, because the frequency of use is reduced. This includes both physical and mental health issues, and consequences of intoxication like car crashes.

>> It’s just arguing Alcohol is popular not that it’s inherently more dangerous.

No, it isn't.

Alcohol is addictive. More so than most other drugs.

That is an inherent danger of alcohol.

You are in denial.

"Alcohol is addictive. More so than most other drugs."

Alcohol withdrawal can be nasty. But it takes years and dedication (usually) to build up an alcohol habit that threatens serious withdrawal symptoms; for the most part, "withdrawal" is simply a hangover.

Contrast with a minor tranq such as diazepam: you can easily acquire a habit from which withdrawal is potentially life-threatening, in as little as a month.

Addictiveness isn’t the primary issue with drugs. Caffeine is quite addictive (61) almost as much as Alcohol (81) though notably less than Nicotine (100), it also has withdrawal symptoms, and occasionally people even OD, but it’s a also much safer because it doesn’t have significant health impacts or impare driving.

LSD is mildly addictive (18) slightly less than MDMA (20) or Marijuana (21). But MDMA is inherently much more harmful. That said, when LSD was legal it was quickly becoming popular and caused users a lot of issues. As such the more addictive nature of alcohol (81) is just one property and not enough on it’s own to compare it to other drugs.

Research by John Hastings. Relative rankings are definite, numbers given are (+/-)1%

While addictiveness is not the same as habit forming, it does link to overall useage.

"LSD, your example there, is generally considered non (or relatively non) habit-forming"

It's literally impossible to acquire an LSD habit. After 3 or 4 days of continuous LSD use, no amount of LSD will have much effect on you. You need to lay off it for a few weeks to re-sensitise.

> Alcohol does a great deal of harm simply because it’s very common and often severely abused.

The body of someone who uses medical heroin every day with clean needles and doesn't drink alcohol will be in a much better state than someone that drinks two liters of beer every day. Of course I don't think that there is a person with a heroin addiction that doesn't also have an alcohol problem.

I think it makes sense to look at alcohol as more dangerous than heroin from a personal risk perspective.

> At the other end, 1 glass of wine every day for 60 years is as far as we can tell on net harmless.

The evidence seems to be that even low levels of alcohol consumption can increase the risk of certain cancers:


Moderate alcohol use is associated with some cancers, but is also associated with cardiovascular benefits. On net it’s as far as we can tell neutral.

All opioids build tolerance but not resistance. Overdoing is sadly common in very long term users even of medically sourced and therefore clean drugs. Even clean heroin by itself is vastly more deadly than Alcohol for average users over moderate to long timescales.

Which is why you need to compare habitual long term users of drug X to habitual long term users of drug Y.

I would say that inhaling smoke, especially tar-rich smoke from burning organic matter, is bad for lungs. The presence of any psychoactive substance in it changes little. There are several other ways to consume THC, though, somehow less destructive.

By the same token, drinking alcohol in shots, cold and concentrated, is about the worst way to consume it, because most of it is then spent ruining the liver, and little actually reaches the brain. Sipping a glass of wine does not compare.

AFAICT a lot of health problems that even heroin addicts face do not come from overdoses, but from the unsanitary ways of intravenous administration of it, and the wear-off of the veins from constant injection.

Comparing drugs by just their chemical properties, and ignoring the ways they are consumed, is not very productive, alas.

> By the same token, drinking alcohol in shots, cold and concentrated, is about the worst way to consume it, because most of it is then spent ruining the liver, and little actually reaches the brain. Sipping a glass of wine does not compare.

That really isn’t how alcohol works in the bloodstream. Once it’s through the GI tract there is zero difference in what the source of alcohol is. Further, the liver takes a long time to break down a shot of alcohol or a glass of wine. The only real difference is to the throat, stomach lining where more concentrated alcohol can be a larger irritant. But again once it’s in the blood stream it’s both significantly diluted and rapidly spread throughout the body.

Now sipping wine with food does significantly slow absorption, but it’s the same effect if you take a shot in the middle of a meal.


Not sure how this applies to drinking concentrated vs dilute alcohol though

It only plays a role when you are digesting something else.

In contrast to the results in the fed state, in humans fasted overnight the concentration of alcohol consumed (4%, 16%, and 40%) had no significant effect on mean AUCs. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1530-0277....

Well said. These drug laws are criminal, not innocent users.

This is how oppressors keep the bottom caste in their place while promoting a sense of justice to the unaffected.

The bottom goes in and out of prison and does just fine. You can't threaten them because they have little to lose. A year working less than ideal jobs and they're back where they were.

This is how you threaten the middle. You threaten their wealth and their careers.

"You can't threaten them because they have little to lose."

This also reminds me of how some drug companies are pricing gene therapy drugs (like to restore sight, fix muscular dystrophy, etc). They have admitted that they weren't pricing the drug based on what it cost to develop but based on what that person's [function] is worth to them. If your pricing model is based on desperate people being willing to pay anything, then I don't think these executives have thought this through. Desperate people may be willing to pay anything, but when they have nothing to pay, then they are also willing to do anything.

I think this can be a similar situation in the "justice" system. If you have no faith in the system do to their track record of misconduct, mistakes, etc, then you have no incentive to believ in them or try the legitimate path.

>I think this can be a similar situation in the "justice" system. If you have no faith in the system do to their track record of misconduct, mistakes, etc, then you have no incentive to believ in them or try the legitimate path.

I believe this is why high level politicians and the wealthy get out of trouble. They know the system is a sham, so there's no point in going along with it.

They can afford to perceive the system as a sham.

I might understand that it’s a sham, but I’d be miserable and powerless to push against it. So it’s a pointless belief to have.

But after that, it becomes a bit chicken and egg: Is it a sham only because you have power to make it a sham or was it a sham all along?

I meant this in terms of justifying it to themselves. They wouldn't lose also over "evading justice" because they don't think it's really just.

>But after that, it becomes a bit chicken and egg: Is it a sham only because you have power to make it a sham or was it a sham all along?

I disagree with this point. It was a sham all along. I think the chicken and egg problem is that people feeling like the system is a sham makes the system into a sham. Which came first? A system that's a sham or the belief?

> They have admitted that they weren't pricing the drug based on what it cost to develop but based on what that person's [function] is worth to them.

That's bog-normal value-based pricing which is used almost everywhere, especially in the software industry. You'll find many, many upvoted blog posts on HN that explain why you should do this.

Now you can certainly argue that this should not be done for medical products, especially those granted a monopoly via patents so that there is no price competition.

But you better have a really good idea of how exactly you're going to prevent it and how you avoid destroying the incentives for doing the (very, very costly) research and clinical trials to create these drugs in the first place.

My point was just that when you essentially extort desperate people, those people may do desperate things. You don't see this same type of desperation in tech or other things. For example, it's more believable that a parent of a child that needs one of these therapies may steal it, or even kill the executive that makes those sort of statements than someone not having the latest iPhone (although that occurs too).

"how you avoid destroying the incentives for doing the (very, very costly) research and clinical trials to create these drugs in the first place."

This just isn't true, and is built on typical industry lies. You have many people who would work on this type of societal improvement products for a well paid but not excessively lavish lifestyle. Look at people like Salk.

Pharma executives are some of the highest paid. Much of the research is government funded. The companies spend more on lobbying and advertising than they do for R&D.

Personally, I'm fine with the pace of progress slowing if it means we aren't allowing companies to manipulate the public and hold people's health hostage for obscene salaries and bonuses. There's too many people on the planet anyways.

Brazzy is right and you are wrong.

For big pharma to extort, first they need the product that actually works. Most gene therapy is pipe dream. There are some drugs on the market for some orphan (rare) diseases but the development is very costly and the market is very small.

Obviously it will mean that the price will be very high. Most people are not in the position to pay it and it is up to the insurers or the government to decide if they can afford it or not.

Here is the story of the first approved gene therapy drug: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alipogene_tiparvovec

They sold the drug to 1 person only. The original company developing this drug went bankrupt.

That's a pretty bold claim to blanketly say that one person is wrong and another is right when there are multiple points in each statement.

Do you realize they went bankrupt largely due to their pricing model? If you have a valid market and plan, you can get funding. This seems like they didn't have a good plan. Just because you give one example of a bankrupt small company doesn't mean that is representative of the industry. There are plenty of examples of other companies being successful. Some of these tend to get bought out by the larger companies. This article suggests that R&D costs about $1M (and 2 people recieved the treatment from the company that went bankrupt due to the high price). I'm sure there are additional costs for testing and approval.


Having executives making a combined $14M per year seems like a major factor in the price when the patient population is small. For example, 1k patients per year would have to pay $140k each just to cover the executive overhead.


Where is the aspiration for a better life in that sentence. Where is the idea that the bottom should rise, that ... omg

I made no comment about mobility, just stated the reality as I see it at a couple points on the ladder.

Until the bottom eats into the middle and you have a critical mass of people with nothing to lose.

I agree but...

If you have nothing to lose you have nothing to fight to protect but if you have little you have are precariously close to having nothing, and that is a line most people fill fight hard not to be pushed closer toward.

> justice system is actively contributing to that

Please help stop use of the phrase "justice system".

naming is hard, indeed. what do you suggest?

Legal system, or judicial system, or court system.

"Carcerial state"

"carcerial policing complex"

Refer to it as a legal system.


This is completely incorrect. There have been several large-scale tests of this theory, notably Australia, that proved it to be false. Genetics have nothing to do with it.

What, exactly, is the “it” that you think has been proven false?

I don’t have much sympathy for people that commit actual crimes. There are too many innocent people being arrested to worry about the guilty ones.

They chose to spend their money to keep their son out of jail. Thats was their choice. That’s the consequence of the son committing what appears to be a major crime. Hopefully the son learns from that and he should be working to help repay that debt.

It's less about sympathy than about how you structure a justice system if you don't want more crime in the future. A lot of things about our justice system work very much counter to how you'd do things if your main goal was to have less crime. See also: banning certain kinds of government college aid for people with drug-related convictions. If you care about recidivism and cycles of poverty & crime why would you make it harder for people who've done their time and gotten out to contribute positively to society?

From a sheer fairness and what is justice actually POV, it's bullshit that this is yet another thing a rich family can shrug off, while a poor family is screwed. I don't have a solution for it, but the role money plays in our justice system may well be the biggest problem with it, which is saying something.

> Hopefully the son learns from that and he should be working to help repay that debt.

Very unlikely, with a record. A decade later and he's doing OK, for values of OK that include "can mostly pay own not-large bills, and only because he's living with his parents, and is steadily and consistently progressing in a low-paying field". Last I checked he's still "in the system" to some extent, as far as ongoing fees and check-ins and such.

(for the record, just to set some parameters here, he didn't physically hurt anyone, but it was still quite serious and definitely not something a society would want to go un-punished, that's absolutely true)

One imagines the long-term lasting harm to all of: victims, families of victims, perpetrators, and families of perpetrators; happening over and over in high-crime neighborhoods and it's no wonder it's so damn hard to improve those areas. That, on top of everything else that's often wrong with them. Reducing, not increasing, the "blast radius" of crime seems like something you'd focus on if you want to reduce crime rates, when stress and poverty are causal for crime and stress and poverty are part of the effect of same "blast radius".

> A lot of things about our justice system work very much counter to how you'd do things if your main goal was to have less crime.

If you think about it, keeping families uneducated and perpetually in debt means more bargaining power for those who have the money to lobby and change the system. What incentive do they have to do that?

Was your relative a multiple-time offender? If so, maybe stronger punishment earlier would have put him on the right path sooner.

Look, some people will always be fuck ups. That’s the sad reality of the life. Some people, no matter how their are guided, will always eventually fuck up and ruin all the hard work people put into them. They are wired to always make poor decisions no matter what. My best friend is like this. After 40 years of trying to help him, I accept him as he is now with no expectations he will ever get better despite decades of trying to help him. I have a close relative like that too. If they are protected from consequences too early in life, they tend to make larger, irrevocable mistakes later in life and then they are fucked for a long time.

In SF crime is running rampant now because of a DA that refuses to prosecute smaller crimes. It has emboldened criminals. Prop 47 has made it so that gangs of thugs enter a store, fill their bags with merchandise and run out with no repercussions. I witnessed this with my own eyes and the manager said they don’t even call the cops anymore because they won’t come. Instead, 15 Walgreens have closed their stores in SF in the last few years because of it. Criminals are arrested 20+ times in the span of a year and they keep getting let go and they are free to continue committing crimes and it’s getting worse and worse.

So punishing criminals matter. Putting them on the right path matters but it can’t be consequence-free.

I don't think I've been advancing the idea that this should have been consequence-free. I just think some people (who, fortunately, haven't had much insight into "the system") may not be aware how the burden, financial and otherwise, for punishment can be in excess of the explicit punishment for a crime, and fall on far more people than just the offender, in ways that result in punishment being de facto much worse for the poor than the rich, even when prison time is in some way involved, and cause significant harm to families and communities in ways that don't seem particularly useful to the pursuit of justice. I find some of the ways these things are applied to be poverty-reinforcing, which is a really bad idea if you want less crime to happen, rather than more.

(FWIW I haven't downvoted any of your posts)

> In SF crime is running rampant now because of a DA that refuses to prosecute smaller crimes.

Just so you know, the DA came into office in Jan of 2020. That’s well after Prop 47 and nothing to do with him. If you look at clearance rates published by SFPD to compare 2020 to 2019, you’ll find that they are the same year over year at a surprisingly low 9% overall.

I see a lot of FUD spread about our DA where people don’t seem to actually look into what the DA’s office has done in cases or how often arrests are even made. In these convenience store robberies, it sounds like arrests aren’t even being made. No arrest and the DA’s office can’t bring charges. Just because it’s not a felony doesn’t mean they shouldn’t arrest and charge. Even if the person is released, the charges make repeat crimes more severe.

This sounds like cooking the metrics to me. If the police aren't making the arrests at all, sounds like someone up there is trying exceedingly hard to prevent this.

Just because the facts don't match your preconceptions doesn't mean you can just dismiss them. Proof that they are cooked, otherwise you don't have an argument.

I’ve always wondered, if someone is an irredeemable fuck up, what’s the point of punishing them? They’re not going to get better and it’s probably not even their fault.

I agree. If they're an imminent danger to others, lock them up strictly for segregation and not gratuitous vengeance (that is, be as nice to them as practical given that you're locking them up), if they're manageable, leave them be.

To get them out of circulation. A lot of these incorrigible people are pretty obnoxious and make everyone miserable around them.

Except it costs money to incarcerate someone in jail, and doing that & foregoing the dedicated drug treatment also means the person is more likely to relapse and cost society even more money.

Especially for drugs, we need to move away from a punishment/vengeance system of justice and towards a rehabilitation/lowest TCO form of treatment.

I agree w/ you in principle, but it's also worth pointing out that drug rehab in the US (and globally, but the US is the worst out of the countries I know enough about to assess) is a joke, court-mandated especially, eg: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/review-finds-many-wh.... putting aside the indentured servitude model, whether court-mandated or not, far too many rehabs adhere strictly to ineffective 12-step programs rather than harm reduction.

they're not necessarily worse than jail ofc, but they don't serve any useful therapeutic purpose either

A good start to reform would be to stop making crime a profit center for corporations that provide prison and rehab services. Their interests are the lowest quality at the highest price, and they will lobby politicians towards that end even if it's not in the best interests of turning a criminal back into a productive member of society.

The government may tend to lack efficiency, but at least its lack of profit motive wouldn't completely taint the whole system.

true, although I think it's worth pointing out that private prisons aren't as big a driver of mass incarceration in the US as a lot of people think. the privatization of services like food or health within public prisons, or replacing mail or in-person visitation w/ extortionate electronic systems, is probably much more significant.

similarly most exploitative prison labor doesn't take the form of producing goods for private companies (like the Whole Foods cheese thing) but consists of using inmates to reducing staffing & other costs inside the prison, like making them work in the kitchens or laundry

edit: immigration detention is the notable exception - about 70% of immigration detainees are held in private prisons, compared to about 10% of prison inmates

moving towards evidence based, medication assisted rehab is a HUGE step in the right direction which does actually work - especially opiates. Soboxone, naltrexone etc. sadly seems like Meth/stims don't really have any good clinical stepping stones; it's an awful drug.

there's no neat middle ground like buprenorphine but meth & some other stimulants can be prescribed in the US, so that's better than nothing - at least helps w/ problems of contamination, dose ambiguity, health risks associated w/ smoking/injecting etc

totally. I'm very passionate about this, like probably most Americans who have families now touched by addiction.

I am 100% in favor of unscheduling all drugs and providing addicts under Dr. care actual pharmaceuticals. Including opiates. Even if they still inject it's still a LOT safer.

When are we going to see some of this settlement money expanding treatment?!

If anyone hasn't watched it, I highly recommend the new HBO doc from Gibney "Crime of the Century" shows some new evidence just confirms how evil Purdue is and specifically Richard Sackler.

They present evidence that the FDA employee who wrote the label wrote it in a hotel with Purdue employee.

This is HUGE. That label is what they used to market the original "Big Lie" that OxyContin “Delayed absorption as provided by OxyContin tablets, is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug” which is on the same level as cigarette companies being horrible and deliberately killing hundreds of thousands of us.

Second half focuses on the Kapoor's fentanyl corporate crime syndicate. at least he is serving a small amount of jail time. Sadly now corporations are moving on to Asia and Africa. It's disgusting and makes me so angry.

it's monstrous yeah. did you see the thing about McKinsey recommending that Purdue pay a rebate to pharmacies for every OD death, to assuage their concerns over dispensing large quantities of opioids? https://www.fiercepharma.com/pharma/mckinsey-consultants-pro...

one thing I don't think that's talked about enough re: the opioid crisis is labor injuries - imo people taking opioids in order to be able to work through injuries they've incurred on the job played a big part in it. doesn't diminish the guilt of the Sacklers et al, ofc, but it wasn't purely an overprescription problem

no thanks for the link. that's gross!

AND it seems worse incentive! dole out more, kill more people, and you're pharmacy will make higher profit.

Yes I agree just the general idea of 'needing' to treat all pain, and companies skirting workers comp time off is gross. Might as well dope up Amazon warehouse workers. Given them vyvanse and longer shifts... That's what purdue marketed and completely changed how Drs treat. That 1-10 face chart that is still in my Drs office was made and distributed by Purdue.

The hbo doc actually goes into the distributors. How one gov. prosecutor used the existing DEA law to order a stop on one factory warehouse for filling orders that were magnitudes larger than like last months, and are are clearly abuse or diversion.

But then this same prosecutor who had a great reputation for being tough got hired by these Pharma corps, and lobbied to change that law so they can't shut it down anymore. It passed congress unanimous consent. he used his position to say 'this isn't effective' and lie about what it actually did, and most LAs and members didn't bother to read it...

Drug rehab and harm reduction aren’t the same thing.

I'm aware of that. but some rehabs adhere to the harm reduction model & too many don't, which is why you get people ODing because their rehab thought expecting someone to stay fully abstinent after a month or two of inpatient was a better idea than putting them on suboxone while they got long-term psychiatric help. the 12-step approach is partly responsible for the abstinence dogma, hence my mention of it

Be careful what you wish for. The best ROI form of punishment is fines. Government loves fines because they make money rather than cost money. Nobody wants to live in a police state that hands out fines for everything.

Punishing criminals is more important than saving money.

Simple possession shouldn’t be a crime but crimes themselves shouldn’t be consequence-free otherwise it turns a city into a shithole. Look at SF over the last few years.

Only if your goal is vengeance and not less crime. You get less crime with drug rehab and education programs for prisoners.

Would you rather have less crime & better society, or punish people for some vague notion of consequences, even knowing it's a worse outcome for society? Because the consequences of a crime, whatever they are, should also be chosen to have the least negative drain on society.

Amazingly, a huge portion of people believe, like this person, that the role of the legal system is to punish people rather than to produce a just and safe society. A huge amount of abuse in policing, courts, and prisons suddenly starts to make sense when you realize that people want people they perceive as low caste to suffer and they see crime not as a chronic condition but as an immutable property of one's soul.

The roles of sentencing in a criminal justice system are:

* Prevention * Deterrence * Veangance

The least-useful of these is veangance. Legislators think it is needed to forestall private acts of veangance. But in itself it serves no purpose.

To deter crime, people have to believe that the likelihood of their being caught and punished is high; without that belief, it doesn't matter how severe the penalties are set.

Prevention by detention is an extreme sanction, and extremely costly. It's only appropriate for incorrigible psychopaths. "Prevention" by court-ordered medical treatment (e.g. rehab, chemical castration) is a human-rights violation. Prevention by supervision, harm-reduction, or education are evidence-based responses that actually have a chance of improving things.

When the punishment is too harsh the rational response is increased hostility towards the society responsible for the punishment. People are not stupid. They know life is short, treat them like pariahs that don’t belong to your society and they will surprise you with their despise for the rules of the society that made clear they are not welcome in it.

The deterrent effect of punishment has been proven many times to be no where near as strong as law abiding people believe it to be. Now you can say "well you just need harsher punishment" but many systems has disproven this as well.

Jail should be reserved for people who a direct physical threat to other peoples bodies or properties. Continued incarceration should be viewed from that lens as well.

Victim Compensation should be a higher priority instead of punishment, instead we put almost no priority to Victim Compensation instead viewing the crime as a "crime against society" and the person "pays a debt to society" that is the wrong position.

I don’t think these arguments are the opposite of each other the way you assume. I believe that punishment is important. I also believe that reducing the total cost is important, but not always to the point of reducing punishment where people aren’t punished for their crimes. It’s all relative, but here’s an extreme: you murder someone, it costs $10m to prosecute you and put you in jail for life, OR you are given $5m and told you get to keep it unless you commit another crime. The latter might be more effective, (I have no idea) but that doesn’t make it the right choice in my opinion. Obviously an extreme case that will never happen but it’s all grey is what I am trying to say...

> it costs $10m to prosecute you and put you in jail for life, OR you are given $5m and told you get to keep it unless you commit another crime

I don't think that would work simply because after that person spends the $5M, the government can't claw it back even if that person commits another crime, and if they are in the state where they are considering another crime, the extra $5M debt would probably not deter them too much. This proposal would need to be reworked to align long term incentives of the person with not committing another crime. It would also need to disincentivize people from committing crimes just so they can get this benefit.

In a somewhat related vein, I recall there being a proposal to provide basic housing to the chronically homeless, as certain homeless people cost the taxpayers millions due to arrests and illnesses from being homeless. Although there is no angle of punishment here, there is still the angle of those homeless not deserving free housing. I believe however that there is a strong case for providing such housing, when viewed from a dispassionate point of view, as it is both fiscally prudent as well as humane in reducing suffering.

Pay the $5 million over 50 years. If they commit a crime early, they keep the years they were crime-free and lose the rest.

Your example is so outlandish, it serves no purpose.

In your scenario you are adding an incentive to a single commit murder. You are trying to make the point justice is not about utilitarianism but about morality on some level - but your example is so unmoored from reality that it is useless.

If giving people millions of dollars also lowered crime, then I would be all for it - improve the economy, lower taxes, and reduce crime! What a score!

The only real reason to object to it would be problems unlisted in this analogy - like the obvious incentive to murder. But we're axiomatically handwaving those intuitive signs of a bad choice away due to a "those turn out to not be an issue".

The problem here is your conclusion ("yes this may look good on paper but your gut instinct clearly tells you this is a bad idea regardless") is based on using your gut instinct, in a hypothetical that axiomatically requires you to ignore your gut instinct. In other words, you're breaking your own rules.

I can tell you from personal experience that if the "victim" ends up being a large insurance company that had to cover a claim due to an act of the defendant there is in fact quite some emphasis on Victim Compensation.

This is wrong in practice. This is the theory put forth by Chesa Boudin and it has been an utter failure in SF. Criminals end up continuing to commit crimes because they know there are no consequences. Victims get victimized twice, once by the criminal and another by the “justice” system and the taxpayers end holding the bag in terms of cost with no real benefit because the criminals will continue to commit worse and worse crimes, leaving a trail of victims with no justice.

This idea of restorative justice is an abject failure. It might work for first time offenders, which I’m okay with trying on, but once criminals commit crimes multiple times, we need to protect society from them. Locking them up is the best way to do this.

The tides are turning against the idea that criminals shouldn’t see jails, because of how much of a failure it has been. I used to think maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on crime, but after not only being the victim but seeing what it had done to SF, I’m firmly in the camp of throwing criminals in jail. Mainly moderates like myself feel the exact same way in the last 2-3 years and it will show more and more in voting, especially in SF.

The US already has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and it's also by far the most dangerous and crime-ridden developed country in the world: there are 7x (seven) times more murders than any other OECD country!


Yet you're proposing doubling down on a clearly broken approach?

Both Colombia and Mexico are OECD countries and have higher murder rates than the United States. Lithuania's is close. The U.S. is roughly on par with Greenland for murders per capita.

Sorry, my bad, the study above is for high-income OECD countries as opposed to all of them. Mexico and Colombia are both much poorer than the US, and Greenland is both not a country and a bit of a special case since the locals struggle so much with alcohol.

>>This is the theory put forth by Chesa Boudin

no it is not, Chesa Boudin did not in anyway advocate for Victim Compensation, he was advocating diversion programs completely different

>Criminals end up continuing to commit crimes because they know there are no consequences.

Absolutely nothing in my statement is about no consequences. It is saying that we can have difference consequences than mass incarceration, one that actually makes the victims of crime, specifically property crime, whole again. Which are current system does not

You seem to believe I am advocating for SF style policy of just not prosecuting theft crimes at all, there is NOTHING in my statement that aligns with that position. Simply opposing Jail time for those offense, which further burdens society and does nothing for the victims is not a solution to shoplifting and theft, nor is the other extreme of just let shoplifters go

The fact that you have a tribal binary response of "if you do not want harsh prison must mean you want no consequences" show your lack of understanding of this topic, there are lots of other models out there

I'm not arguing for a universal policy. Clearly circumstances must be taken into account for repeat offenders.

Drug addiction and the crimes that spring from it are a different matter. There is a clear cause for the crime: the addiction. Fix that, no more repeat offenses. However most rehab programs for addicts that end up in the criminal justice system aren't that great, so that's another area that needs fixing.

Regardless, my point is just that consequences for criminal acts should never be simple punishment if there are options with a better net benefit for society. That will of course mean there has to be a detergent aspect to things as well, which may take the form of a punishment, but not a punishment for its own sake.

When police selectively enforce the laws, a lack of sympathy for the guilty guarantees that systemic discrimination goes unredressed. It's not just that a dog like Karma exists, it's who the police choose to inflict Karma on.

>"There are too many innocent people being arrested to worry about the guilty ones."

Ow, wow. That's like 17th century thinking right there, when we used to hang people for petty theft, executions were a public holiday, folks thought it would deter crime but it stayed sky high.

Also boiling people alive was a thing, and, most egregiously, we overboiled them.

I am willing to bet that you or someone in your family or friends has broken some law somewhere at some point, possibly without realising. I don't think this line of thinking leads to a good place.

A close family member almost went to jail because they committed theft over $25,000. Had they gone to jail, I think it would have been easily deserved. I wouldn’t have had much sympathy for them either, and they are like a sibling to me. If you knowingly commit a crime, why exactly should one deserve sympathy when they did it with full knowledge of the consequences?

The idea is not thay noone should ever face consequences, but they must be afforded full protections of due process and be treated fairly.

The antithesis to this would be the police pinning another nearby robbery on your relative just cause he is guity already, or violating his right in some way.

I don’t know what your point is then. I said I don’t have sympathy for guilty people because I reserve my sympathy for the innocent people that are caught up in our current “justice” system. That doesn’t seem very controversial but what you are saying is so far off from that I don’t know what your point is.

Here's why you should care.

Keeping someone in prison costs tax payers about $70,000 per year (directly). In addition to that, it increases the chance that their family will need government aid, decreases the average educational level reached by their children, and isn't especially effective at deterring crime.

Furthermore, just because someone is guilty doesn't mean that the law is just. In the past, we have locked up people for (illegally) escaping slavery, being gay, publishing books the government doesn't like, and many other unjust laws. Currently, there are about 3 million people in prison for no crime other than drug possession, despite the fact that countries like Portugal have shown that decriminalizing drugs yields far better outcomes for individuals and society as a whole.

Lastly protecting the rights of the guilty is critical because doing so is the only thing in the US that protects the rights of the innocent. Countries like the UK are set up to charge officers and prosecutors who violate rights with crimes. In the US, however, we've decided that the better approach is to prevent misconduct by not allowing evidence that was obtained improperly. We as a society can not be lax on misconduct against the guilty because it is the only defense the US has against misconduct against the innocent.

"Countries like the UK are set up to charge officers and prosecutors who violate rights with crimes."

Woah, hang on. I've lived in the UK all my life; I've never heard of a prosecutor being charged. Officers can usually escape charges by taking early retirement; policemen are hardly ever charged with violating the rights of members of the public, even if they kill them.

That is not the UK I know.

I'll step in because I really took a different (and perhaps incorrect) read of the statement "There are too many innocent people being arrested to worry about the guilty ones."

On it's own I take this to mean that we need to address the issues in policing and the justice system to have a lot less bullshit and a lot more impact. Time/money (and resulting fallout) spent harassing innocent people creates all manner of problems and is also time/money not spent on actually doing the job. In this I wholly agree.

That said, There is still room for nuance and appropriate recourse in actual crime. There are a lot of crimes, and it's pretty clear that in many cases the punishment doesn't fit the crime, or that the crime even makes sense.

Ultimately if we ever get our shit figured out I'd assume both of these would be accomplished. I just hope that we get there.

Why didn't he/she go to jail? 25k seems like more than enough...

> I don’t have much sympathy for people that commit actual crimes.

Even when the "crime" doesn't hurt anybody except the "offender?" GP post strongly implies the charge was some sort of possession charge. Drug addicts do not need to be punished any more than they punish themselves.

I read the GP post as suggesting an actual crime likely occurred. You, I, and many others (especially people who tend to use HN) don't consider drug use an actual crime. Judges sometimes sentence (actual) criminals to drug rehab programs as an alternative to jail for certain things, e.g. if perhaps someone burglarized homes to fund a drug addiction.

I have no idea, though. It would've been better if they gave a little more detail about the nature of the crime.

Sure, that's possible. But, even if it were some sort of other crime that was exacerbated or precipitated by a drug addiction, the fact that the sentence included the option of rehab + probation seriously limits the badness of that crime.

If this were the scenario, and I had to guess, I would say it probably was some sort of property crime. People other than the perpetrator tend not to get seriously (physically) injured in most property crimes, and insurance often covers the damages. In any case, monetary restitution to cover the damage plus rehab. should be a sufficient sentence.

GP did not strongly imply it was possession. They said the guy “definitely did something bad”. So it sounds like to me it’s something more than just simple possession. That’s what I’m going with.

Yeah, it was worse than that, but waaaaaay under something that would get people to say "lock them up and throw away the key!" Also wasn't any kind of hate-related or vulnerable-group-targeting thing, of the kind that would get a person a torrent of death threats on twitter.

100% the kind of thing someone ought to be punished for (unlike simple possession, certainly). The main thing I find objectionable is that one must pay a flat-fee ransom to an assuredly-connected-to-important-people-and-overcharging commercial entity to get one's children out of jail. There are a few things wrong with that, but fundamentally it sucks that how much money you (or your family) have determines so much about how harsh a punishment is. It can be anywhere from "a little annoying but no lasting harm done to anyone" to "everyone in your immediate family's quality of life is now 10-80% worse, measured over a lifetime", for exactly the same crime.

[EDIT] and on a less personal level, the thing that bothers me about it is that a justice system that intends to reduce crime rates should avoid at all costs being a driver of poverty.

You know, you didn't actually answer the question I asked....

I don't think every person who replies to you needs to answer the exact question you asked. This is a general conversation, and people can talk about any interesting point in any part of the preceding text. Tangent conversations are just fine here.

I don't think me writing a comment compels anyone to do anything about it, so, what's the problem? This is also the specific person I asked the question of originally to whom I am replying. I think when I ask a specific person a question and get a reply from that person, it's fair to expect that the reply answer the question. Wouldn't you agree?

You also can't expect people to bother checking whether you are asking the question of the person you originally replied to. I actually thought about it myself for a second, and decided not to.

You'd hope, but people gotta peep.

> I don’t have much sympathy for people that commit actual crimes. There are too many innocent people being arrested to worry about the guilty ones.

What's an actual crime to you? I bet our definitions differ based on something not-so-quantifiable. A good DA can produce charges against someone to make it look like an actual crime was committed when it's really something petty or much less nefarious. We've seen countless examples of this.

Rather than describing my sympathies at some nebulous level, I'd rather say this: I have sympathy for those in the criminal justice system because I realize most people are capable of change and that is mostly ignored by the public and the criminal justice system together. Former criminals are almost never rehabbed, and worse we see many examples of folks who were never criminals being introduced to a system that by default does not care about them but carries maximal implications for their life.

I have zero sympathy for someone who stole a $200 necklace that my mother gifted my wife, as a token of remembrance and melted it to get some gold. $200 is not an issue. The memories associated with that artifact, the legacy - That is the issue. And in CA, the laws encourage petty crime like this, because of dollar value.

I don't know why I should care about if this thief is capable of change or should be rehabbed. I want to kick the shit out of the thief and get the necklace back, because this person has caused so much anguish to me and my family.

True, you're owed by this thief, and unfortunately they stole a sum that can likely not be repaid. I imagine there are no amount of years someone can sit in a box that will make you feel better about that.

To me, when someone does something like this the criminal justice system is supposed to figure out why they did it (drugs, opportunity, gangs, etc) and rehab them accordingly so they don't go on to repeat this behavior in the future. What happens all too often is we stick them in a box, never rehabilitate them, and they go on to learn more about criminal activity in prison only to commit worse offenses when they get out. You don't have to care, the criminal justice system does because it's within their charter to do so.

How does this stop the next thief from doing the same? Looks like I will loose everytime and the thief has no consequences other than someone analyzing why they did it? Who cares about my loss?

Keep in mind, I'm not advocating putting someone in a box. I have no solution either. I haven't seen proof that doing what CA is doing reduces pretty crime either. So paint me skeptical

Ideally the magic would be in the rehab actually solving the problem. Maybe it's helping them get their lives back on track or correcting a mental health issue. I wouldn't say the thief loses money, a court taking guardianship of someone to do rehab isn't going to be a day at the spa or something. They're going to have to do pretty life changing work in that paradigm. I don't know if you've ever done enough introspection to change your life, but that is not some easy or fun endeavor imo.

The purpose of the criminal justice system wasn't to make you feel better or to get you your stuff back. Sometimes that happens but it's mostly by chance and not by design. Really, the system wasn't built to facilitate revenge, that's just the way it works now. That's where things like insurance come in. No insurance program is going to value a family heirloom the way you value it though.

I'm yet to see this magic happen anywhere in the world. Also doesn't address repeat offenders. The purpose of the criminal justice system is enforcement, judiciary and corrections. You are talking about just corrections. I don't even see enforcement for many many crimes.

And, yes, no insurance will cover my emotional loss. "justice" in the system seems to be missing.

If the answer to that is "deal with it", I'm obliged to return in kind the same mindset to thieves.

If the penalties are a slap on the wrist, I'll be thinking of starting a life of crime, its gotta be easier than than hard work.

Right. The line of thinking around "criminals are victims of circumstances" has always stumped me. It completely marginalizes the actual victims of crime, "property damage is no big deal, covered by insurance". I wonder how many people advocating that line have gone through such a thing themselves

SB-82 for California would make your crime a misdemeanor, so even more of a slap in the face to you. The cops wouldn’t even bother responding to it if you reported it, it’s sickening.

The system has a task to determine whether a person has actually committed a crime, and how serious. You don't want to happen to be a false positive. Nobody does.

But with plea bargain, I bet the number of false positives is somehow elevated.

Also, prisons are a terrible way to handle criminals. Instead of reforming the criminal and helping reintegration into the law-abiding society, many prison systems, including the US's, produce hardened criminals who learned a lot more of criminal trade during incarceration, or crushed people who have no chance to get to their feet again. Unless a society just kills every criminal, it makes sense to care what happens to them, because they'll be back.

So that raises the question, if you are guilty of a crime, e.g. shoplifting but you get punished like a e.g. murderer. Are you innocent or guilty? If you argue they committed a crime, so don't deserve sympathy, then it follows that we don't need to look at the fact if punishment appropriate. We could then just throw people in jail and do away with much of the court system, because with the complexity of the law, you can say with nearly 100% certainty that someone would have committed a crime at some point, so they all are guilty.

Proportionality between crime and punishment is a central pillar of a fair justice system. The extrajudicial financial punishments that the article and the OP allude to, are in direct conflict with that.

Like one of the previous posters said, daemonizing the guilty is what keeps this system from being fixed.


We've warned you before not to post nationalistic flamebait to HN. If you do it again we will ban you. (It doesn't matter which country is at issue.)

Discussions on sensitive, divisive topics are difficult enough without someone pouring petrol on the fires. It may not be arson, but it's at least negligence, and it's destructive. Please stop.


We do care, but you must understand that policing (and the majority of government that Americans interact with) is fragmented by design under our significantly federated system of government. As much discussion as this gets on a national level, meaningful change in this realm means change at the local level. And that's where things start to break down, because the most egregious cases of abuse are happening in places that disproportionately benefit from these abuses.

Ever cop knows the phrase "you can beat the rap but you can't beat the ride". Arresting people you know will get charges dropped just to hassle them is standard practice.

"Our mistake, you get to pay for it" seems like something that should be illegal.

It seems like legal bills somehow are often considered exempt from common sense like that. Perhaps it has to do with so many politicians also being lawyers.

You actually pay for it twice as a taxpayer.

I think mistakes should be paid for by the tax payer, not by the individual who was involved. Everyone makes mistakes, they're unavoidable. But the costs should not unilaterally burden the innocent person involved.

I can't tell if you are disagreeing with me. Everything you said is what was implied by what I wrote.

I read the suit[1] linked in the article and it's even more bewildering than you might think; it seems that a (presumably minor) charge for hygiene supplies was the least of her financial problems, considering her car was "ripped apart" and "permanently damaged", and that she actually lost her license over this(!)

And the K9 dog wasn't even the biggest problem in the police handling. The police just acted in bad faith throughout.

I expected to find just one or two extra screw-ups, but good grief, this is just an orgy of fuck-ups. Granted, this is just one side of the story, and some details can perhaps be contested, but overall it seems fairly solid and reliable to me. Much of this was captured on body cams.

A summary:

- A concerned citizen called the police to make sure everything was okay.

- "Inexplicably, instead of initiating contact with Wendy to see if she was okay, Clark instead called for an ambulance–unnecessarily escalating the welfare check without even checking to see what was going on."

- For some reason this "are you okay?" call expanded to a DUI investigation. Wendy was repeatedly denied to do a chemical test for alcohol or drugs, which she asked for to prove her innocence. Clark insisted on doing a field sobriety test, which was "improperly conducted [..] and improperly instructed Wendy on how to perform the tests", and even more damning "Clark positioned Farris to take the field sobriety tests in a spot ↪where the tests themselves would not be caught on camera"

- She failed this test and was placed under arrest. Again she asks for a breath or blood test (the EMTs were still present, had already checked her out, and decided she was fine). Again denied. At this point she was "in a state of near panic".

- Clark's report didn't mention that Wendy had been awake for 24 hours, had just been awoken, was forced to look out into the bright sunlight to respond to the officer (of course her pupils were constricted), and that she wasn't actually driving the car.

- The dog fails to find anything on the first pass of the car, and near the end of the second pass the dog handler touches the car with the hand that was holding the dog's scent toy. Karma looks at his handler and "finds drugs".

- They discover the $5,000. The car was impounded and "ripped apart in an effort to find drugs" which "permanently damaged Wendy’s vehicle". No drugs were found. She never got paid damaged for this.

- Booked in to jail, according to Clark she refused a breathalyser; "Wendy did not decline, she simply advised the deputy that she had been told not to answer questions until her attorney arrived" (who was on their way, and had wisely advised not to answer questions).

- Finally got her blood test done (results for this take a while, more on this later).

- Cited with a DUI violation. Was booked in on Friday and released on Monday (doesn't mention times).

- On Monday the prosecutor dropped the charges as there's no real probably cause.

- The same day Wendy returned to complain about Clark's handling, and "In retaliation, Clark submitted the DUI arrest to the State of Washington Department of Licensing for an administrative decision on Wendy’s license. Wendy had no idea Clark had done this". The paperwork Clark submitted for this claimed that Wendy refused to do a breathalyzer.

- Wendy’s driving privileges were suspended for a year and was required to get SR-22 insurance, which she can't afford. "As a result, Wendy has not driven since she discovered her license was suspended" and "as a result of unjustifiable suspension of her license, Wendy lost job opportunities".

- Wendy was charged again for DUI based on Clark's lie that she had refused to take to a breathalyzer. She had to travel from Montana to Washington only to have the case dismissed again.

- To prove her innocence she tried to get the blood test results, but according to the police office the "lab was busy" and the results weren't ready yet. In May 2020 she contacted the lab directly, and they informed her that the tests had been completed and submitted to the police office on March 27th, 2019.

- She never heard about the complaint she submitted against Clark. Seems to have been >/dev/null'd.

[1]: https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.waed.91...

There really is no recourse if you get caught up in or are maliciously thrown into government bureaucracy which is rather alarming for a modern society. It fosters mistrust in government and in the worst case is a deliberate punishment which bypasses the justice system.

Batman is a fictional character but sometimes he seems like our only solution to these kinds of problems. Just do the right thing regardless of the consequences.

There is only no recourse because people have not yet started seeking recourse outside the law. Once that happens a couple times in high profile ways the courts will find ways to provide recourse within the law.

> There really is no recourse if you get caught up in or are maliciously thrown into government bureaucracy which is rather alarming for a modern society.

This has nothing to do with government bureaucracy, and everything to do with malicious, criminal cops. Don't confuse one for the other.

They suffer no consequences for harassing and abusing people. Frequently they even get away with murder. The cities and their unions protect them, because they know that at the core the police are a criminal enforcer organization. The law protects the rights of the poor and innocent in the USA, but the police are tasked by landowners with a lot more than simply enforcing the law: they want them to enforce the social order, too, which is a much more, err, "informal" process, such as we see here.

This results in a culture of lawlessness in the police, as they carry out the wishes of those who write the checks and suffer no consequences for breaking the law which they exist ostensibly (but not in practice) to uphold.

I've written about this before: https://sneak.berlin/20200628/the-problem-with-police-in-ame...

>This has nothing to do with government bureaucracy, and everything to do with malicious, criminal cops. Don't confuse one for the other.

This has everything to do with government (or otherwise, bigCo is not immune to this) bureaucracy.

Diffusion of responsibility, conflicting process, etc. etc. are how this kind of behavior can persist. These cops can do this crap and remain employed because the pile of bureaucratic process that distills everything down to (mostly) objectively evaluate metrics and therefore "doing your job while being a dick" doesn't negatively affect them.

It isn't just police that have this problem. Every regulatory enforcement agency has this problem to various extents.

This is kind of true for any organisation, not just governments. A few years ago I got screwed pretty royally by a rental agency after leaving for essentially no other reason than that they didn't like me objecting to their illegal actions[1], but what do you do? Okay, I can go to the small claims court or something, but it's time-consuming, potentially costly, and most of all: stressful and emotionally draining.

I don't tend to stay angry for very long. Actually, I pretty much never do. But it's hard to describe the amount of anger one can feel when being the victim of such a blatant bad faith injustice. I never thought I was capable of this, but turns out I am. These people tried to charge me for fixing cracks in the walls because the building had subsided. Yes, really. They literally admitted in the email that they knew this was illegal but were going to try it anyway (and there's a lot more bad faith bullshit in similar fashion). Eventually I got the £2,800 charge down to £800-something after filling a dispute. There was still a bunch of outright bullshit in there (about £200 at the most was justified), but is those £600 worth it?

If you can afford it: probably not. Aside from the time you need to spend on it you just get consumed by anger and negativity. It's not healthy for me, so I just moved on and tried to forget about it. I still get angry when thinking about it though; what bunch of morally bankrupt tosspots.

I've seen this with other people as well; years ago one of my coworkers had a similar conflict with his garage. I don't even know if he was right, but he certainly had the same feeling as I had. He did go to court for it (I don't recall the outcome) and he spent months talking about it to anyone who wanted to listen, including customers (many customers). I don't think it was good for him.

Ideally, government should be better than some random company. But in reality, government and companies are both organisations comprised of the same sort of people, and people can be rather ugly and unreasonable.

I do think you can minimize these sort of things by fostering a good organisational culture, which is easier said than done of course. You will always have some problems, but a lot of the truly outrageously bad problems seem to stem from a toxic culture: the culture at my rental agency, or the culture at the police in the US, or stuff like the toxic culture at the Dutch tax service leading to the recent/on-going scandal regarding false allegations of fraud and ignoring of evidence there was actually no fraud.[2]

[1]: They also evicted me over this, turns out that calling your landlord a cunt over entering your house without ringing the doorbell is not a good idea in a country with minimal protections for renters, even though it was quite justified considering it's 100% unacceptable and illegal and I had already told them many times I didn't want it.

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_childcare_benefits_scand...

All of this is pretty standard police procedure in the US. Once they have a suspect or target, they tend to simply assume they are a criminal, and their goal from that point is to find a way to get them into jail. Field sobriety tests and drug-sniffing dogs are two of many, many police tools that are typically used not to determine the guilt or innocence of a suspect, but to provide justification for arresting someone. Then they seize cash as "possible drug money" and destroy people's property under the guise of searching it.

After an arrest, police will often ignore exonerating evidence or not bother trying to get it, for much the same reasons. And they have a whole arsenal of tactics for making life a pain in the ass for the accused while they fight to get rid of bogus charges.

And after all that, they make filing a complaint as difficult as possible, after which the complaint either disappears entirely or seemingly sits in a drawer for months to years before ending in a generic finding of no wrongdoing from the officer.

As far as the police are concerned, the system is working as intended. Politicians may disagree, but they're too scared to make serious changes, so it never changes.

I have a friend out almost $10,000 for simply being innocent of a DUI charge. (Breathalyzer and blood test were both 0%, and he does not take meds or do drugs.)

This is what we get when we over-rely on armed agents and the legal system to fix far too many societal issues. That’s a result of too many fear-possessed people simply voting their fears.

What were the charges for?


It's pretty well known that for lower level offenses (traffic, summary, etc) the system is a racket. You pay more to defend your innocence than it would cost to just pay the fine. Most states restrict public defenders to those who have low income. Are there states that will reimburse for legal fees if found not guilty? The ones I know of do not.

I don't know what you would call it, but I don't think "justice" should be part of its name.

PKD once pointed out that the only way to really live unmolested in a police state is to never find yourself on the radar to be examined in any way in the first place.

They never really close the file.

This is something any US citizen should be concerned about, if not outraged. There is no 4th amendment if a cop can just have a dog with him, or say "I smelled weed", etc. The cops even joke about it, referring to the dogs as “probable cause on four legs”. The root problem is credulous or complicit judges who let this evidence be introduced. We need them to throw out these cases.

The judge issue is understated. Local judges who can throw out this evidence get elected without challenge and often by relatively small numbers of voters. Judges are often voted in during an off season so voter turnout is tiny. But i used to joke that if about 50 percent of a local university turned up to vote for a judge they could easily de facto make marijuana legal in their area.

It's no joke!

Ann Arbor Michigan had the most liberal cannabis laws in the United States for a couple decades running, it was a $5 fine for personal use quantities.

In the late 80s (IIRC) a Republican on the city council tried to change this, campaign promise or something. The council said "hmm, yeah, it costs us more to process this paperwork than we get in fines" and raised it to $20 or $25.

In the UK we seem to have similar problems where what is considered personal use and not worth enforcing seems to be suspiciously dependant on the users societal class. I know people literally growing the stuff next to their house, but because they have a nice big garden and some local stature they'd face no consequences, whereas in the same county I'd never get away with that because I live in a suburb.

Legalise it and tax it folks.

>>> Legalise it and tax it folks.

Can't we just enforce the law equally without fear or favour?

It is just a plant

Ok I am on the wrong side of HN on this, but question - are drug laws more harmful because they exist or harmful because of the unequal and discriminatory enforcement?

If a law is used to systematically keep a section of society in its place (poverty, race, class whatever) then it kind of does not matter if the laws are repealed - the systemic abuse will continue some other way.

If those in society who are not systematically on the wrong side of the law, but are otherwise inconvenienced by access to drugs, then they see only upside.

If however we work to enforce the law equally, whatever the law is, we see all sorts of benefits. Kick down doors in penthouses in manhatten using ten SWAT officers and two helicopters, and we shall see re-evaluation of those tactics and those laws, but only if we apply the law equally.

Justice without Mercy. My new campaign slogan

They exist because of the unequal and discriminatory enforcement so it's a pretty naive question.

The single most important issue in the US is getting our elections to be on the same date for all levels.

The nonsense that is "democratically" voted for in elections where a handful of interested parties vote for it and no one else knows it happens is astonishing. Especially for judges and infrastructure bonds.

Most countries don't elect judges or prosecutors. Seems like a case where less democracy is desirable rather than more.


yeah seems like a strange thing to want to turn into a popularity contest.

The alternative to being elected is they are (effectively) appointed by the elected officials. Either system has tradeoffs.

Why should elected officials have any say who is in judiciary branch any attempt should be shotdown and maybe get attempters shot. It's clear way to corruption.

I don't know, in most countries judges are appointed by the government after advise from independent advisory boards. Then again, in most countries judges have a lot less power than what it seems like they do in the US and the legal system is not a political battleground.

The US has a really quite unique judicial system, and in many ways ultimate sovereignty of the USA resides in the Supreme court. That power has filtered down to lower courts who make various rulings that will shape what things the higher courts consider on appeal.

Courts can say whatever they like, it comes down to the executive branch to enforce it.

The courts are the ultimate source of legitimacy.

Every time an executive defies the courts they erode the basis of their own power, and their public image as a legitimate executive.

Look at what actually happens to executives who defy the courts. The level and types of protest people feel are legitimate increases dramatically. Once the court said that "well technically the emergency order only lasts for 30 days" the anti-mask brigade was much more vocal and flagrant about it.

Free and fair elections are the ultimate source of legitimacy. The courts have maintained good publicity in our rigged system, but they don’t have any inherent legitimacy of their own.

Its a double edged sword. Do you think the people of say Atlanta want all their judges appointed for them by the party that controls Georgia legislature?

Of course you don't want the legislative or executive branch to appoint members of the judicial branch. All three branches are supposed to be strictly separate from each other.

If you did allow the other branches to appoint judges, the bench would obviously become stuffed based on who's currently in power.

And yet that's what the US does.

But it's the same electorate! So it's likely to be the same party?

Often the Party and the electorate have differing goals. As a general rule the Republican Party didn't particularly like Trump, but the Republican electorate adores him. Likewise the Democratic Party really likes Biden, but my general feeling from Democratic voter was, "we'd rather Bernie or Yang, but have have to dump Trump."

Biden got an absolute majority of the Democratic primary vote. Sanders got half that, and Yang's share was minuscule.

It seems like it should be a requirement and very easy for state and local governments to publish calendars. I did a quick search and was excited that Chicago published an iCal until I looked and saw that there were zero items on the calendar going forward or backward six months


I'd say somewhere around 50% or more of Americans are pretty much understand that the cops have accumulated fairly unanswerable power, that something should be done about it and that nothing will be done about.

But another 30-40% of Americans believe cop movies/TV and think cops need to be able to shoot first and ask questions later 'cause of armies of "bad guys" armed with machine guns.

Look at the venn diagram between the first 50% and people who blow like grass in the political winds.

Unfortunately I will be surprised if a great many of the "reform the police" advocates stick around after it becomes apparent that "reducing police power" likely means some amount of "reducing the number of criminal infractions", "reducing staffing/resource allocations" and "reducing police's ability to screw people at their discretion" and that will greatly reduce their ability to call the cops and get a response to minor nuisance behavior. Unfortunately people really like using state violence as a cudgel against whatever they don't like.

I've been bitching about the cops for decades. Things have changed a lot since BLM came onto the scene and getting cops/government to generally treat people fairly and with dignity/respect after interactions have started (which seems to be the avenue where most progress is being made) would be a massive win but I see a lot of pitfalls that need to be avoided on the way there.

This is why BLM and the like generally ignore "reform the police" types entirely. Reform always ends up toothless for those exact reasons, so the only solution is to reduce their power in other ways (namely reduction of funds and repealing of criminal laws).

I don't know why it's not considered animal abuse. They say that 40% of them are domestic abusers, but really 100% of K9 units are animal abusers. They are taking advantage of puppies and having them do things that a dog shouldn't naturally tend towards when interacting with human beings.

If a dog can be trained to find drugs then it can be trained to alert on command.

I feel like many science-y people have an intuition that a measurement technique should not be used until you have explored its false positive rate. Perhaps judges don't share that intuition. Presumably judges receive their training in law school. One solution might be to persuade law schools to teach that to their students, by adding questions about this to bar exams.

Judges must defer to experts, and experts are often really wrong.


>While the scientific community highly endorses double-blind testing, it can have disastrous effects on canine teams. As there is no way to determine whether the canine responded correctly at the time of the alert, the question is, should the handler reward the canine? This is a vital question due to the fact that detection canines are largely trained on a fixed ratio reward system where the canine is rewarded immediately for almost every correct response.

A measurement system that only works when you can't calibrate it isn't a useful system.

Also we live in a world where instantaneous communication at arbitrary locations is possible. How hard would it be to make an app where the evaluator can check if the canine's response warrants a treat?

I recently had an experience with the system. Literally every person we encountered as a part of that system make mistakes, were incompetent, or committed misconduct. I'm talking about 3 magistrates (who aren't even required to be lawyers!), court clerks, a trooper, the SGT that approved the citation, the ADA, the second ADA, the DA clerk, a judge, court reporter, president judge, and I'm sure I'm forgetting others.

It's an absolute shit show that only cares about money. I was even told by a civil rights lawyer that we had a case, but that the judges don't care unless we sustained substantial monetary loss (more than the $2k plus of handling the case pro se).

Search dogs simply do not meet even a minimum requirement for probable cause because their accuracy is poor at best, yet they are widely used and accepted by law enforcement and the courts.

Law enforcement agencies across the US still use lie detector tests, despite their efficacy having been determined many decades ago to be exactly nil.

DNA evidence is infallible they say, yet an entire state( NY) screwed up their test procedures to such a degree that they are essentially trash. The system knew this, yet proceeded to use those tests because telling the truth was deemed too costly. They deemed it better to send possibly innocent people to jail than admit their mistake.

Fingerprints are another area where law enforcement regularly screws up. They try to glean useful information from a partial print, in many cases so partial as to be laughable. I know of two cases where someone was arrested for a crime, even after having soundly proven they were not in the same state and even in the country at the time of the crime.

Further, most of the tools in an arson investigator's toolkit are no better than using a divining rod to find water, yet they are accepted by the courts as valid.

There are tens of thousands of cases where prosecutors proceeded with pressing charges in the face of overwhelming evidence to a suspect's innocence.

The police are given tools that they do not understand, nor care to understand, and cannot employ with any reasonable amount accuracy.

The courts nearly universally side with the police on these matters.

These are simply facts, and should make everyone's hair stand on end, because the police are using what amounts to voodoo to determine the guilt of a suspect, and the courts go along with it.

Speaking of hair, it’s not reliable either. The same goes for bite marks, blood spatters, shoe and tire tracks.


This is so true. In the grand scheme, there are never any bigger slimebags to walk through the courts' doors than those who work there.

The dog got a reward when it signaled the presence of drugs. (before an actual search to confirm the dog's signal) That seems like a great way to train a dog to always signal the presence of drugs.

Anyone who knows anything about dogs would say that drug-sniffing dogs are a constitutional nightmare. They're basically a rubber-stamp. Dogs want to please their handlers. If the handler wants the dog to alert, the dog will alert. The presence or absence of drugs isn't relevant to the dog.

Yes. I train my dogs to give me its paw when I show it a cookie and say "paw". It never takes long for them to just sit down and start waiving their paw around as soon as I pull out the cookie. Or rushing to the door when I get home and doing the same thing even when I didn't present a dog treat.

Drug K-9 units are right up there with polygraph tests in the "fake nonsense without enough science involved and a high-degree of abusability".

Pretty sure polygraphs are inadmissible in court these days and are mostly used as an interrogation tactic to elicit a confession

Actually in several states they're still usable. Some as supporting evidence, others requiring double consent, and some just as evidence. Their time has not completely passed sadly.

Never mind that the government itself still uses them as part of their security clearance process...

Do you have a source on this, and on how common it is? I certainly wouldn't be surprised at all if it's true, but I'm curious about actual studies.

The article for this post is a pretty good source: 100% rate for the dog indicating the presence of drugs is pretty much a rubber stamp.

> The article for this post is a pretty good source: 100% rate for the dog indicating the presence of drugs is pretty much a rubber stamp.

If you read the article you will find a description that the dog didn't alert the first time around the car, didn't alert the second time around the car, and only alerted after the cop maliciously signaled to the dog that they want an alert. To me that doesn't sound like a bad dog, it sounds like a bad cop.

>Similar patterns abound nationwide, suggesting that Karma's career was not unusual. Lex, a drug detection dog in Illinois, alerted for narcotics 93 percent of the time during roadside sniffs, but was wrong in more than 40 percent of cases. Sella, a drug detection dog in Florida, gave false alerts 53 percent of the time. Bono, a drug detection dog in Virginia, incorrectly indicated the presence of drugs 74 percent of the time.

These are concerning false positive rates, but I don't think anything in the article suggests the extent of what the parent wrote, in a universal sense:

>They're basically a rubber-stamp. Dogs want to please their handlers. If the handler wants the dog to alert, the dog will alert. The presence or absence of drugs isn't relevant to the dog.

If I took a test in college and got 40% of the answers wrong I would get an F.

Sure, but that's one particular dog. I'm asking about the statistics for all of the drug dogs in the US.

I agree if a particular dog is wrong more than 10 - 20% of the time, the dog and/or the handler should be taken off of the job. And I agree that they probably shouldn't be allowed to be used by police unless they already have probable cause through some separate means.

Why was this comment downvoted? It's a very legitimate and relevant question.

I think it was seen as me slyly trying to defend the use of drug-sniffing dogs. I'm really not; I was just curious about the data, and wondered how much variation there might be.

It's interesting to see the difference in testing between the US and Europe (or NL at least) - here getting 60% correct is a passing grade (usually 50% is the minimum)

I had a class in college where a 40% curved to a B.

But yeah, the drug dogs are an end-around of the 4th Amendment.

It's tricky because, while dogs can understand fairly complex vocabulary, their ability to reason abstractly about events is less developed. If the dog alerts, you spend two minutes searching, and then you reward the dog, it will have trouble connecting the reward to the alert.

The obvious solution is to train the dog to search things that you know have drugs (or don't) because the trainer set it up that way. You'll need to then repeat this training often, and not always in the same environment. If you don't, eventually the dog will figure out that it will always be rewarded for alerting in the field.

The problem with this, of course, is that it's expensive and cumbersome to do. You need to set up cars/bags/lockers/etc with and without drugs in them in a variety of locations, secure them (lest actual criminals steal the drugs), and bring the dogs to them (lots of time out of the handler's day). Also, even if you do this, you'll still get false positives: dogs are living animals, not machines.

> It's tricky because, while dogs can understand fairly complex vocabulary, their ability to reason abstractly about events is less developed.

dogs are also experts at picking up on non verbal body language and cues, whether you're intentionally giving them off or not.

This is hilarious. It's exactly the same problem as the "use AI to identify suspicious people" thing except that everyone freaks out about the former but loves this dog thing because they're fluffy.

If we ever make fuzzy happy fun killbot, I think civil rights might be doomed because there'll be an army of killbot fans who will defend them even if they run internally on an API call to random.org

Or you just reward the dog when you put it back in the police vehicle whether it indicated the presence of drugs.

I think the condititoning is more like "train a dog to signal the presence of drugs _when the officer wants there to be drugs_"

At least that's what happened when I was K9 nonconsent searched.

The dog didn't signal for 4 laps and then the handler looked at him like i look at my dog when he eats cat food. Of course the dog then sat.

My dog tried to train me to give him a night time treat.

When I let him out at night, I give him a treat when he comes back in after doing his business outside.

Then he got smart enough to scratch at the door to go out again, then came right back in and sat by the cabinet to wait for his treat. Finally he gave up on the extra treats when he found it didn't work.

Dogs are very good at figuring out the actions they need to do to get a reward.

In the case of Wendy Farris it's actually even more blatant than that as the dog handler actually touched the car, after which the dog looks at the owner and "finds drugs" immediately in exactly that location. Surprise surprise. This is at the end of the second pass.

A clue to the dog about as subtle as a brick in the face. The best possible good faith interpretation I can give to this is spectacular ignorance in understanding how dogs work.

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