In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 13, 2008 / 6 Adar II 5768

A ‘Wire’ war vs. the drug war

By Clarence Page

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If you're called for jury duty, let the lawyers and judges know up front that you're not going to send nonviolent drug offenders to jail.

That provocative piece of advice comes from the creators of my all-time favorite television show, "The Wire," which ended its five-year run on HBO last Sunday (March 9).

"If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented," the writers declare in a Time magazine essay.

The essay is signed by David Simon, the former Baltimore Sun reporter who created the series; Ed Burns, a Baltimore cop-turned-schoolteacher who became Simon's co-creator; William F. Zorzi Jr., another former Sun reporter (who also plays a Sun reporter named "Bill Zorzi"); and best-selling crime novelists Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos and Richard Price.

"Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war," they write. "No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens."

Although I have some reservations, I've learned enough as an urban affairs journalist to know that they make a powerful and persuasive argument. The war on drugs too often has become a war against poor people.

That theme is driven home with bracing clarity authenticity on "The Wire," which is more than a cop show. It's really about the two Americas left behind to coexist uneasily in the social rubble that departing factory jobs left behind.

Simon and Company say they were moved to write by the show's fans like me who became invested in the lives of characters like "Bubbles," the junkie struggling to get straight, and "Dukie," the dropout outcast who slides into junkiedom. We few, say the writers, we captivated few who made up their loyal audience flooded the writers with one question: What can we do?

Having talked in recent months ago with almost all of the essay's authors, I know how frustrating they have found that question to be. Kids get killed, addicted or jailed. Politicians get elected. Lawyers get rich. Jails get filled. The drug war goes on. Drug arrests soar without a noticeable decline in drugs.

In Baltimore, Simon and Company note, arrests for drugs have soared over the past three decades while arrest rates for murders have dropped in half. In other words, serious crimes against lives and property are going unsolved in a system that encourages police to spend time snatching cheap drug arrests off the nearest corner.

Even former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, a former federal prosecutor, suggested that decriminalization would cause fewer problems than the drug war was causing. In that spirit, the "Wire" writers advocate what Simon has called a "paper bag" approach to minor offenders. In the real world of the streets, putting your beer can in a paper bag frees the police to look the other way and go after more serious crooks instead of arresting you for illegally drinking in public.

With lawmakers unwilling or unable to repair the drug war's damage, Simon and Company invite juries to look the other way by exercise their right to nullify a law they see as unjust or unwise.

Jury nullification dates back in English law to the Magna Carta. It refers to a rendering of a verdict by a trial jury that refutes the judge's instructions as to the law or its application in a particular case. In a historic 1735 trial in the colony of New York, journalist John Peter Zenger was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor.

If enough members of the public signal their disapproval of a law by refusing to enforce it, they might bring about its repeal. That's a happy thought, as long as it is not taken too far. As a rule, it still is better to pass laws in legislatures than in courtrooms.

It is also a good idea, before releasing someone for a nonviolent offense, to check to see if they have histories as violent offenders and tendencies to do it again. Many often do.

And there is still a lot that we should do to help today's at-risk youth and small-time criminals avoid becoming big-time criminals. For example, we can find and support neighborhood programs, many of which are church-based, that do a good job of putting kids on the right road. After all, we find the young wasted lives that are portrayed on "The Wire" so unsettling because we know that they're based on real people.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Clarence Page's column by clicking here.


© 2007, TMS