L. Neil Smith's
Number 271, May 16, 2004

Remember: You are the most powerful force in history!

Why There is no Such Thing as a Victimless Crime
by James Maynard

Special to TLE

Bob Dylan sang that "In Jersey anything's legal as long as you don't get caught".

Well, outside of Jersey, there seem to be two kinds of crimes.

The first are violent crimes, the committers of which, most people would agree, should be removed from society.

But many people talk about "victimless crimes", and the very definition the phrase "victimless crime" suggests there are no victims involved. But if the breaking of a law hurts no one, where is the victim?

Violations of the law are prosecuted, spending taxpayer money and valuable police resources chasing after small time cannabis users, and 19 year-old girls with a wine cooler. This takes money, attention, and resources away from serious, violent crime, which does hurt families and neighborhoods.

Also, there are families torn apart by prohibition, and the rise of urban gangs and street thugs, profiteering off the huge profit margins generated by prohibition. Eight year-old children shot in the back while laying on their bedroom floors, cancer patients being denied the only medicine that works for many of them, and children going without one or both parents because they are incarcerated for non-violent crimes are the true victims of victimless crimes.

And what about other "crimes" which populate our law books? We have all heard stories of how bad the life of a prostitute can be on the streets of America. Pimps, disease, violence, and possible death may await women who take this unfortunate path.

They, and the people they work with, are the true victims of this "victimless crime".

Yet in Holland, these adult workers have more sanitary conditions, mandatory health care, they make their own hours, and are protected, rather than prosecuted by, the police. Oh yeah. They also have their own union.

In short, the victims of victimless crimes are the people who are prosecuted and punished for victimless crimes.

Can we get rid of this problem? Certainly. But not by making the problem worse through more and larger prisons, and "tougher sentencing", which denies judges latitude and flexibility in sentencing. The only way to save the victims of victimless crimes is to stop making the "offenses" crimes.

There have been a few brave people who have stepped forward lately in their desire to remove the crimes from victimless crime, which removes the victims.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson led a successful decimalization of cannabis in his state, and led the charge for treatment instead of incarceration for people convicted of harder drug offenses. This resulted in a lowering of the harm and deaths caused by the use of illegal drugs.

People who know they might be arrested and/or incarcerated if they were to call a doctor or ambulance for a friend's overdose might not call until it is too late. Or not at all.

But under New Mexico's harm reduction policies, these people were able to get the medical care and addition treatment they needed. In fact, the police were given the training and medicine needed to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries.

Governor Johnson was even supported in harm reduction and re-direction by former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz (www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n451/a07.html).

In 2001, New York Governor Pataki, too, began to realize that the states tough "Rockefeller Laws" didn't reduce the usage or availability of drugs; it just changed the dynamics of the underground market (www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n223/a02.html).

In December 2000, then-president Bill Clinton said to a Rolling Stone Reporter "I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be."

Well, he was right in calling for the decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis should take place, but 736,000 people were arrested for just that offense in the last year of his presidency.

In the April 15th issue of Join Together Online, New Hampshire Governor Benson stated "...putting addicted individuals in prison is an expensive and ineffective way to deal with the state's alcohol and other drug problems... It's possible we are not always spreading resources in effective ways. If we're putting people in prisons for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, it's the wrong thing to do."

There's a new day dawning, one where our police have the time, money and resources to reduce violent crime. One where gangs can't sell drugs to make a profit anymore than they can currently sell aspirin to supply finances for their activities.

In New Hampshire, there will be 20,000 activists moving to the state to, among other agendas, reduce the harm of prohibition by bringing about true drug reform, and removing the same old tired, failed policies (www.freestateproject.org).

For the first time in history, there will be tens of thousands of activists, volunteers and political donors arriving in one state to bring about a smaller, less expensive, more accountable government. And getting the state out of the business of creating victims of victimless crimes.

You can help this new world dawn, by calling your governor, state senators and representatives, and asking them to do what is right for our communities by working for drug reform, not punishment.

If you really want to make a difference, with thousands of like-minded individuals, join the Free State Project, and move to New Hampshire. There's a battle to be won.

Will you step forward?

James Maynard is a two time candidate for Keene, New Hampshire City Council. He is a NH media representative for the Free State Project, and the chairman of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance (www.nhliberty.org). He holds a BS in chemistry, physics and history, and is a big fan of the Boston Red Sox.


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