The Battle Over Drug Penalties...

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Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thank you for watching us tonight.

There is a ferocious battle going on here in New York State over penalties for drug trafficking.  That's the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo.

This week marks the 30th year that the state of New York has imposed mandatory sentences on drug-involved offenders.  If you possess more than four ounces of heroin or cocaine, or sell more than two ounces of those drugs, the law requires jail time between 15 years and life.

But prosecutors have discretion in the cases they bring to trial.  If the offender cooperates or is a first-timer, the charges can be altered or dropped.

Right now, about 94 percent of incarcerated drug offenders are black or Latino, and some media people and others are outraged, citing racism.

The tag "nonviolent offender" has also been slapped on some of these drug convicts, and many articles have been written about people serving long sentences for allegedly small crimes.

However, the district attorneys of New York State want to keep the penalty, saying that it is virtually impossible for a low-level offender to get a mandatory sentence.

D.A. John Tunney says, quote, "People are not going to prison because they're addicts.  There is no one in prison who fits the profile that the reformers suggest."

The debate really comes down to this.  Is trafficking in hard drugs a violent crime?  I say it is.  Selling a highly addictive substance such as heroin or meth is a crime against humanity.  Yes, the user is at fault, but the seller drives the product and contributes to the destruction of human beings and to society itself.

It's a connect-the-dots situation.  Drug addiction is responsible for massive amounts of street crime, child abuse, and other social problems. Quite simply, drug dealers are dangerous individuals who prey upon the weak and put all of us in danger, especially children.

The reason that minorities get more jail time is twofold.  First, drug dealing is more open in the poor neighborhoods, so it's easier for the cops to make cases.  Secondly, minority dope dealers are often addicts themselves and can't hire sophisticated lawyers.

But that's their problem.  Just because you're an addict doesn't give you the right to destroy another person's life by dealing poison.

Actually, the minority community should be the primary supporters of tough mandatory sentences against dealers.  Those parasites are abusing poor kids and destroying working-class neighborhoods.  We don't have crack dealers on the street where I live.  Why should they be on the streets in Harlem or Bed-Stuy?

Every study ever done on drug addiction shows that young people are the most vulnerable to it.  Drugs on the streets are dangerous, and those who are in the dope trade should be pariahs.  Crime has dropped dramatically in New York City because the Giuliani administration prosecuted most dealers, even low-level ones.  The streets are safer because these people are in Riker's Island.

So I'd put an appeal process in the mandatory drug sentencing system, but that's it.  Drug dealers are violent offenders.  Keep them off the streets.

And that's the memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for the "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day" 

A Kentucky teenager has turned in his own father for drug use, a 17-year old boy.  His name is being withheld, called the sheriff in King County and told him his father was a pot dealer.  According the cops, the kid said he was sick and tired of being around drugs and sick and tired of his dad doing drugs.  The boy's sister and seven-year-old brother are now staying with family friends.  The whole situation is a shame and it's ridiculous the kids have to be subjected to that kind of stuff.

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