What Creates A Dennis Marx – or – The Anatomy Of A Felony

I saw this browsing on Reddit:

Forsyth County Courthouse Shooter

The guy who tried to shoot up the courthouse, mentioned above, was a man named Dennis Marx. I wrote briefly about him and explained his circumstances in an earlier article. Like the individual on Reddit, he was also arraigned on multiple marijuana charges. On the day Marx was set to enter a plea he arrived at the courthouse with rifles, tear gas, handcuffs and spike strips. Had it not been for the mere luck — an active SWAT unit was located just around the corner — Marx may have been able to occupy the courthouse.

Had Marx simply gone through the motions his case would look almost identical to that above. Because what you see above is very typical, the norm, for the American criminal justice system.

Most people do not have first-hand experience with the American legal system (especially if you are not American). Those that do have only experienced it on a limited basis, once or twice, as suspects. This leaves a tiny group of individuals who work within the criminal justice system. And even they are very compartmentalized. The left hand does not know what the right is doing. And what these individuals see is not what you see.

The United States has an extremely prevalent cultural mythology surrounding law enforcement and criminal justice. The most popular TV shows, next to comedies, are police and court dramas. And this is how many Americans, even Americans who have been through the ringer, think that the law works.

Yet, because more people are arrested now than ever before (approximately half of all black males and almost 40 percent of all white males are arrested before they are 23 years old) the mythology is starting to fade. The fictionalized criminal justice system — fast, fair, honest and well-intentioned — is being replaced by first-hand experience of the real American legal system. Most Americans now have a friend or relative who has been arrested.

I saved this post from Reddit as an example of the real criminal justice system. Also, to illustrate the anatomy of a felony from arrest to supervision post-conviction. It works like this:

  1. First, have laws that punish people for victimless crimes such as selling, possessing or using marijuana. If you don’t have laws for soft targets then you can only arrest people who must remain incarcerated. Real criminals. And that isn’t profitable. They don’t pay fees. We want soft targets that can be released to pay fees.
  2. Entrap (not to be confused with legal entrapment, an example of modern Orwellian Newspeak where entrapping someone is not entrapment) an individual who otherwise would not break the law. Bonus points for posing as a medical marijuana patient so the victim isn’t even sure if selling you marijuana is illegal.
  3. Play good cop and lie about how cooperation will be beneficial, how the charges will be minor, or how things will be easier if you open your mouth and spill the beans. Go all the way – tell them you just want the drugs and don’t even plan to file charges.
  4. Hit the person with every charge available after they cooperate and admit guilt. Yes, break all of those promises you made to gain compliance. Yes, this is legal.  Yes, this is normal. You’re supposed to do this.
  5. Send the case to the District Attorney. The DA will add additional charges.
  6. Let the judge decide what part of the bond agreement, terms of release, parole, DA’s recommendations, sentencing and plea bargains will be upheld or rejected out of hand. Nothing you’ve been told up to this point is a promise — even though we told you it is a promise — a man who may not have even looked at your file until the moment you stand before him will decide what is going to happen to you.
  7. Terrify the suspect into taking a plea bargain by explaining the 20+ marijuana charges the DA added will effectively equal life in jail.
  8. Invent a solution — how amazingly fucking lucky you are — we’re going to offer you a plea bargain to admit to just one felony. No 20 years for you.
  9. Admit guilt. Pray that the judge accepts your plea bargain. You have already admitted guilt and the judge can reject your plea agreement and hit you with the full sentence. Time to get religious if you aren’t already.
  10. Whew. The judge accepted your plea bargain. How lucky you are to be a convicted felon with six years of supervised release, weekly mandatory drug tests, mandatory drug rehabilitation classes, an electronic tracking device, thousands of dollars in court fines and thousands more in mandatory counseling fees, urinalysis fees, probation fees, and any other arbitrary agreements made as a part of your sentence.
  11. Remember not to fuck up! If you ever fail a urinalysis, fail to pay your fees, miss a probation appointment, don’t complete your classes, or if you get fired from your work your probation can be revoked. Then you can be sent back for the full term of your sentence. Alternately, maybe you’ll just have your probation restarted at day one. Yes, that’s a thing. Watch your six year probation turn into eight years, then ten, then sixteen before you are finally released.
  12. About that not getting fired from work — good luck finding a job. You’re a felon and with the scarlet F your career opportunities are limited. But if you really have to make money, you know, to pay your court and probation fees, then crime is still an option. Maybe your only realistic one.
  13. If you finish your six year supervisory sentence without a hitch, congratulations! You’re free. Except for the part where you are still a convicted felon, you’ve been disenfranchised, can’t find a job, can’t rent an apartment and can’t do all of the other things felons cannot do. Buy yourself a cake and celebrate anyway. You are a minority if you made it this far.

I wish I could say this is hyperbole, pessimistic or sensationalized in any way. But it is not. That is, more or less, the average course of a felony conviction from arrest to termination of probation. If you’ve ever wondered why probation officers have the highest turnover rates, spend the least time in their professions out of any in a criminal justice career and quickly become the most jaded, disillusioned individuals, this is why. I don’t know if the system has been intentionally designed to work this way, but this is the way it works in practice. The individual becomes trapped in a cycle of unemployment, supervisory violations, incarceration and extensions of the probationary period.


Drug War, Part 2: Drugs In Cars

I was reading an article about Dianne Feinstein being a bad person and this stood out to me:

As a possible example, the California Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal weekend collision in Santa Rosa as being related to marijuana use. A woman and her daughter-in-law were killed when a Toyota Camry in which they were riding was rear-ended by a pickup truck. A preliminary CHP investigation determined that the 30-year-old man driving the pickup was impaired by marijuana and reading a text message on his cellphone at the time of the collision.

With marijuana legalization in US states such as Colorado, police departments are moving away from enforcing possession of marijuana and towards enforcing driving while high. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) have always been applicable laws to any type of intoxication, but have largely been applied only to alcohol. An officer who smelled marijuana would work toward the goal of finding the individual in possession of marijuana. The officer who smelled alcohol, on the other hand, would work toward showing the individual to be intoxicated.

The drug war is a career for many individuals in law enforcement. The Drug Enforcement Agency, for example, would have no reason to exist if it were not for the drug war. Yet, it would be wrong to think that legalization will make them go away. They will simply find a new niche.

A million dollar “Drive High, Get A DUI” campaign has been put in place in Colorado. These media blitzes serve the same purpose for police departments as they do for corporations. It is marketing. They are attempting to imprint the idea or concept of a brand upon the public so that the public will accept it. In this case the brand is marijuana DUI/DWIs.

The state of Colorado will also receive federal funds to train officers for the shift in enforcement:

According to C-DOT’s website, a Colorado Drug Recognition Expert is a law enforcement officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. There are currently 185 active DREs around the state. New federal money will cover training for 35 more officers.

This is done in the name of safety, but it is a money grab. The fines associated with simple possession of marijuana resided in the hundreds, while the fines associated with a DWI/DUI in the United States average approximately $10,000. A large part of this involves mandatory payments to different state agencies, including law enforcement agencies, as well for-profit corporations in a few cases. Thus, a DWI/DUI arrest is far more lucrative than the average marijuana arrest.

Police Chief Michael A. Pristoop: 37 Marijuana “Overdoses”


Michael A Pristoop Annapolis Police Chief

Michael A Pristoop, the Chief of the Annapolis Police Department, cited a parody to the Maryland State Senate claiming that 37 people died from marijuana overdoses on the first day of legalization in Colorado.

Citing Joke, Annapolis Police Chief Testifies That Pot Killed 37 People On The First Day Of Legalization In Colorado

Testifying against marijuana legalization before the Maryland legislature today, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop warned of the potentially lethal consequences. “The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” Pristoop told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”

This man, Michael A. Pristoop, is the Police Chief of Annapolis, Maryland. He is clearly in favor of prohibition. Yet, he knows very little about the very drug he wants to prohibit. He is so out of tune, in fact, that he was unable to spot a parody in The Daily Currant.

Is this really the type of person who is qualified not only to enforce, but also to lead law enforcement and prohibition efforts? This is a man who got up in front of the Maryland State Senate and cited a fake story from a fake newspaper, in order to push a dangerous agenda that has ruined the lives of countless individuals.

The Annapolis Police Department website says:

We are committed to nurturing the public trust by maintaining professionalism in every facet of our operations and demanding the highest levels of personal and professional integrity.

Pristoop did apologize for the gaffe, although he also said it “did not take away from the other facts.” Perhaps this is the “highest level” of integrity one can hope for. Is this really professional, though?

Imagine if he were not a police officer. Let’s say he worked in a different professional field, such as medicine. Maybe he would be a heart surgeon or the director of a hospital. He stands up in front of a patient to refuse a new drug, citing a fake story. Perhaps he recommends a new hospital policy based on a fake story. While funny on the surface, this type of gaffe could end his career. What if he killed somebody? What if he were sued? What if he cost the hospital tens of thousands of dollars?

At the very least nobody would forget it. They would lose respect for him, question his competence and wonder if he was truly fit to work.

If he were not a member of a powerful union, if he did not have a secure government contract, would he be able to keep his job? If it were fire-at-will — if he were your employee — would you let his association with your company ruin your brand?

This Is What Winning Looks Like (Full Documentary)

Highlights from the documentary:

    • Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) hide kidnapped prisoners from US Marines in a hole in the wall for later ransom to Taliban. (4:50 – 9:30)
    • Afghan National Police growing marijuana at the Afghan National Police HQ. (13:35)
    • ANSF nodding off on heroin. (19:00)
    • US Marine describing organized crime in the Afghan National Police. (24:00)
    • Hindsight bias in action from US Ambassador James Cunningham; “We’ve always understood, I think, there’s no way to end this insurgency through military means.” (44:30)
    • British Deputy Ambassador Nic Hailey; “If the Taliban choose they want to participate in politics in Afghanistan, if they choose to renounce violence, if they choose to take part in elections, in choosing of peoples’  leaders, then any group that makes those choices can be a part of the settlement here.” (“You’re now open to the Taliban having some say in how the country is run.”) “I think we’ve always been open to the idea that people who want to take part in politics in this country…have a right to take part in politics in this country.” (46:20)
    • Young boys abducted, used as sexual slaves and shot by Afghan National Police commanders. (51:20)

The Illusion of Legal Marijuana

Weed Legalization As Privatization, Disempowerment

Of course, this is not the introduction of a free market in marijuana. Rather, it is the state-controlled dream of political progressives who have been pushing for a government overhaul of the weed market for quite some time. At the root of this movement is an ethos of paternalism and extortion. Weed must only be legal under the condition that the government can act as “partner” and that it be put in the hands of “responsible” retailers. And thus, Big Marijuana is born.