Our War on Drugs is Driving Family Migration

by Assistant State's Attorney Inge Fryklund (Fmr.)We are torn by images of children being ripped from their parents at the border with Mexico, but few are asking why parents are so desperate to escape their own countries that they are willing to risk everything—including family separation.

A recent NY Times article explored that question. Many parents had concluded that the risk of losing their children outweighed the near certainty of death for those children at home—due to gang and cartel violence.

Source: The Associated Press
People are not fleeing some Act of God—drought or hurricanes—that could not be anticipated or prevented. Rather, they are fleeing violence and governmental failure stemming in large part from the War on Drugs driven by failed U.S. policies.

When something people want is declared illegal, the inevitable and predictable consequence is violence. Alcohol Prohibition (1920-1933) led to government corruption in U.S. cities as the unabated demand for alcohol required…

How a Black, Female LAPD Cop Would Change Policing, Part II of II

A Conversation with Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey (Ret.) of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Read Part I Here. 

Monica Westfall: Do you think there’s a gap in use-of-force training that allows officers to plead that they feared for their lives when they face murder charges for use of force - in killing unarmed black men in particular? And what do you think would be a better method of training in this area?

Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey (Ret.): It’s not a training issue. It’s an accountability issue! We are trained a certain way, and we are certainly not trained to shoot people who scare us. If you are that frightened of a community, again, this is not the job for you. If you’re easily moved to anger because someone curses at you, or because someone runs from you, or because someone doesn't comply - this is not the job for you. Those are things that are inherent to police work, those things happen everyday - sometimes all day! You don’t get to shoot people when they run from you. I don't think any o…

How a Black, Female LAPD Cop Would Change Policing, Part I

A Conversation with Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey (Ret.)PART I of II

Monica Westfall: In one interview, you said that you “try to prepare folks going into the force to know what really goes down.” What do you believe to be the biggest difference in what new recruits encounter in training versus what really goes down?

Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey (Ret.): Well, it’s probably not that different from any other occupation, I would imagine, in that you’re taught in a very sterile environment. You’re taught the proper way, the by-the-book way. Then when you get out of that sterile environment into the real world - the old salts, the old guys who have been around would tell us young whipper-snappers, “Forget everything you learned in the academy, this is how we really do it. Some of it was still by the book, but some of it not so much.

What do potential recruits seem to find most surprising about the reality of the job, and do you find that the reality of policing tends to cause those considering police work to cha…

An Inside Take on Kentucky's Cash Bail Problem

A Conversation with Former Federal Prosecutor David Grise
Mikayla Hellwich: You spent many years prosecuting cases in federal court.What was your experience with bail bonds there?
David Grise: Because my career as a prosecutor was spent in federal courts, I practiced in a system in which a court was required to either place a defendant on a bond that the court knew the defendant could post, release the defendant without requiring the actual posting of a bond, or detain the defendant without bond. Decisions were made based on an assessment by the U.S. Probation Office, and any evidence the parties wished to present. This system ensured that no one was detained merely because they were financially unable to post a bond.
Unfortunately, that’s not fully the case in Kentucky state courts.

What’s the situation in Kentucky?
Thankfully, Kentucky eliminated private bail bond finance companies many years ago.So we’ve avoided many abuses there. Unfortunately, Kentucky courts still use money or prope…

Why Police Should Support Harm Reduction for People Who Use Drugs, Part II of II

A conversation with Chief Mark Spawn (Ret.) of the Fulton Police Department in New YorkPart II of II
Read Part I Here.

Mikayla Hellwich: If politics were not a concern, describe how you would, as Chief, train your officers to engage people with drug addictions. This includes a) people who’ve overdosed, b) people who are found with illegal drugs, and c) people who approach an officer because they need help.

Chief Spawn: I would make sure my officers were trained to use Narcan (editor’s note: Narcan is the brand name of Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug) which is currently carried by many police officers in New York State and in other parts of the U.S. In the early days after Narcan was deployed in the field, when there was a life-saving rescue, there was always a news headline. It’s now happening with such regularity that it no longer makes news. The upside is that police have been trained to respond effectively to an overdose, but it’s also disheartening because it shows how wid…

Why Police Should Support Harm Reduction for People Who Use Drugs, Part I

A conversation with Chief Mark Spawn (Ret.) of the Fulton Police Department in New York.Part I of II
Read Part II Here
Mikayla Hellwich: How do you personally define harm reduction? What does it mean to you? 
Chief Mark Spawn (Ret.)
- Any initiative or program that lessen risks in public health and safety. This includes needle exchanges and supervised injection facilities or “SIFs,” [also called supervised consumption spaces, or SCSs] to name a few. 

What is the biggest misconception about people with drug addictions? One of the biggest misconceptions is the image people have - the person who’s down on his luck, maybe a homeless person with a criminal record. The reality is that addiction affects men and women of all races, socioeconomic statuses, people in rural and urban areas. It cuts across all demographics.

What role does stigma play in this misconception? It’s the negative stigma of someone being a “drug addict” that can prevent the person from seeking help or even talking to their…


By John Tharp and Maria Foscarinis
Originally published by Huffington Post on May 31st, 2018

When San Diego resident Gerald Stark’s rent increased and he couldn’t afford another apartment, the retired union pipefitter moved into his RV. But because he lacked an address, San Diego law made it almost impossible for him to park his RV legally, and it was not long before the city confiscated it, leaving him with no other place to live but the streets. There, he was ticketed for violating another law prohibiting sleeping in public. Faced with thousands of dollars in fines and fees he was unable to pay, Stark lived every day in fear of being arrested — for simply trying to survive.

He is not alone. As rents and housing costs skyrocket in cities across the country — there isn’t a single county in the United States where you can afford to rent a two-bedroom market-rate apartment working a full-time, minimum-wage job — many of our neighbors are just one health emergency, car repair or missed payc…