Stop the violence and abuse against the courageous Georgia Prison Strikers! Grant the prisoners' just demands of respect for their humanity and human rights!
Beginning on Dec 9 the prisoners in at least 6 facilities across the state of Georgia carried out a united non-violent strike, sitting down and refusing to perform slave labor for no pay. Demonstrating unity and solidarity among all prisoners -- Black, Latino, white, Muslims, Christians, Rastafarians -- the prisoners have issued a set of demands that boil down to one: they insist on being treated like human beings. Yet the response of the Georgia prison system has been violence and more abuse.
At Augusta State Prison, at least six prisoners were dragged from their cells and beaten, resulting in broken ribs and other serious injuries. At Telfair State Prison, guards rampaged through the cells, destroying personal property while searching for contraband cell phones.
At Macon State Prison, the prison authorities first shut off the heat as temperatures dropped below freezing and then, on the second day of the strike, also cut off the hot water. An unknown number of prisoners have been taken to isolation or "the hole" at the various facilities.
I demand that this abusive treatment cease immediately, and that there be no reprisals against the strikers. I further demand that the prisoners' just demands be met immediately. The list of them itself speaks volumes condemning and exposing the totally inhuman and barbaric conditions in the Georgia prison system. They must be addressed immediately. They are:
- A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
- EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
- DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
- AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
- DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
- NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
- VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
- ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
- JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.
Hands off the Georgia Prison Strikers! Grant their just demands immediately!
Source: IAC Centre
The reintegration and recovery of drug users is at the heart of the new drug strategy.
A key part of this is the support that drug users in treatment require to move them closer to the labour market and the NTA will be working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that this support is firmly embedded within the drug treatment system.
Part of this work requires challenging barriers to getting drug users into a job or placed as volunteers.
One such barrier is the so-called "two years rule" or the requirement by some employers – including some drug treatment services – that people need to be drug-free for a specified length of time before they can be considered suitable to take up employment or volunteering opportunities.
However, never having been endorsed as national policy by any government department or by the NTA, this was never actually a 'rule' and the application has proved to be of little use in terms of a universal rule to determine an individual's appropriateness or readiness for employment or volunteering.
Despite this there is still an inconsistent approach to the employment of current and ex-service users and many organisations are confused over the practicalities involved.
To help un-ravel this, the NTA is restating common sense good practice messages from existing guidance (available here), which collectively outlines a more flexible approach that employers can take to employing current or ex-service users.
In addition. the NTA and Jobcentre Plus have been working closely with drug treatment providers to establish referral pathways in to treatment for customers who identify that substance misuse is a barrier to work, and have now published a Joint-working Protocol between Jobcentre Plus and treatment providers. The protocol has been developed to support closer collaboration between the agencies and to promote more effective and coordinated actions to address the employment-related needs of people who are in treatment for their substance misuse.
Source: The National Treatment Agency
- The Chairs of the Drug Partnerships
- The Chairs of the Joint Commissioning Groups
- Joint Commissioning Managers
- DAT Managers
Following the publication of the Drug Strategy, we are now able to give an outline of the national funding streams in support of community drug treatment in England.
The Drug Strategy commits the government to removing unnecessary bureaucratic barriers to the effective local deployment of resources. To facilitate this, most funding for drug treatment in the community and prison will, from April 2011, become the responsibility of the Department of Health (DH).
This provides opportunities for local areas to integrate and align their spending on both offenders and non-offenders in the community, and better bridge the gap between prison and community treatment with one pot of money with one purpose.
Source: The National Treatment Agency
The Drug Strategy 2010, Reducing demand, restricting supply, building recovery: Supporting people to live a drug free life, sets out an ambition to explore how to use Payment by Results to incentivise the drug system to improve delivery of recovery outcomes.
Local partnerships are now invited to participate in a pilot programme to explore how to realise this ambition. Around six pilot sites will be selected by March 2011, using a two-stage process. A pre qualification questionnaire (PQQ) will be used to select a shortlist of around 15 partnerships, who will be invited to submit a full proposal. Following the final selection of sites, there will be a co-design period before the pilots start in September/October 2011.
Read the covering letter
Read the invitation to participate
Source: The National Treatment Agency
The Department of Health has launched a consultation exercise to explore the proposed funding and commissioning routes for public health in England, including the ring-fenced budget provided to local authorities.
The consultation, which is "asking both health professionals and the public to think differently about public health delivery, seeks views on:
- what activities should be funded from the new ringfenced public health budget and the appropriate allocation of responsibility for public health activity
- aspects of how services will be commissioned
- how money will be allocated to local authorities, including the design of the new health premium."
The consultation runs from 21 December 2010 to 31 March 2011. Read more.
Source: Alcohol Concern
The University of Malaya’s Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA), organised the Asian launch of the Lancet Special Series on HIV in People Who Use Drugs on the 10th and 11th December 2010 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
This Lancet Special Series on HIV in People Who Use Drugs had its first launch at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, in July 2010. This Series draws attention to the issues around the growing HIV epidemic in people who use drugs, including tackling the myths surrounding HIV and people who use drugs, and subjects as diverse as women and drugs to the effect of amphetamines, alcohol, and human rights on the epidemic. The issues surrounding antiretroviral HIV treatment, opioid substitution therapy, and needle and syringe programmes are covered in depth, as are the social issues around decriminalisation of drug users and reducing intimidation, stigmatisation, and imprisonment of drug users.
The Symposium in Kuala Lumpur featured presentations from many of the authors involved in developing the papers and highlighted key research that will help to inform policy and advocacy efforts to address this critical issue. There were also a number of panel discussions with local, regional and international experts with topics that ranged from the Prevention and Treatment of HIV in People Who Use Drugs to Structural Risk Environments, Women and Drug Use and Human Rights, Drug Detention Centres in Asia as well Drug Policy Reform.
The situation around harm reduction and laws, policies and practices towards people who use drugs in Malaysia was also discussed in detail throughout the Symposium. Malaysia is increasingly being held up as an example of good practice in the South East Asian region as the country continues to scale up harm reduction programmes and begins a discussion on reforming drug control policies. The Lancet Special Series on HIV in People Who Use Drugs can be accessed here.
On Thursday, 9 December 2010, a joint seminar between the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) and the International Drugs Policy Consortium (IDPC) was held at The Legend Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was run in conjunction with the ‘Lancet Series Symposium: HIV in People who use Drugs’ which took place on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 December 2010, organised by the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA), University of Malaya.
The aim of the seminar was to engage high level officials in considering alternative options to the current mandatory treatment and rehabilitation for managing drug using offenders. It was attended by representatives from the Malaysian Parliament, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK), the Prisons Department and the Social Welfare Department, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Judiciary, the Federal Government Administrative Centre and the Islamic Religious Council.
Keynote speakers included Mike Trace and Ann Fordham from IDPC, Professor Mahmood Nazar (Deputy Director General from AADK), Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman (Deputy Director of Disease Control, MOH), Datuk Mohammed Zaman Khan (President, MAC), Mr Jamil bin Aripin (Prosecution Division, Attorney General Chambers), Dr Alex Wodak (Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent’s Hospital, Australia), Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch (Director, OSI Global Drug Policy Programme), the Honourable Datuk Su Geok Yiam (Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge) and a video interview with drug ‘czar’ Joao Goulao (Chairman, Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction, Portugal).
This seminar provided the opportunity to share experiences from different countries and encourage new thinking at a time where the Malaysian government has already successfully implemented harm reduction measures and is in the process of scaling these up.
Guatemala is fast becoming a new front line in Mexico's drugs war, as violence and narcotics flood across the border.
In just one year the amount of drugs seized in the small country to Mexico's south has doubled and now a month long state of siege has been declared near the border - to reclaim some cities taken over by a brutal drug gang.
From Guatemala, the BBC's Julian Miglierini reports on the huge task of taking on the cartels. To watch this short film from the front line, please follow this link
Source: BBC News
Continuing reports to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran have indicated widespread secret group executions of hundreds of inmates in Vakilabad prison in Mashad, mostly charged with drug trafficking. It is reported that thirteen inmates were executed on 5 October and ten on 12 October in “Execution Hallway”, located near the visitation room, where they were executed one after the other. The executions were carried out contrary to Islamic law and without any prior notice for the families involved or any the victim’s lawyers being informed.
On 12 October, Attorney General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei stated that suspects of drug- related crimes should be tried in the shortest time possible and not shown any mercy. He admitted that even low-level traffickers should be shown no mercy when he said “Some of the people who are arrested with drugs are not the main drug traffickers, and they don’t benefit from this materially, but the main drug trafficker deceives these people while he is sitting in a safe place and another person is tried in his place, and even executed.”
The Campaign has made several attempts to persuade the Iranian Authorities to release statistics on the executions. Unfortunately the authorities have failed to release any information.
Many prisoners released from the prison have told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that around two hundred people were executed between July 2009 and March 2010, this does not take in to account the number of women executed in the prison’s Women’s Ward. Again, there is no information available to the Campaign on this subject. These figures are also separate form the number of prisoners who were taken from their hometowns surrounding Mashad to Vakilabad to be executed.
According to sources within the Campaign, in August 2010, there were four mass executions of around sixty or ninety people at once. Ahmad Ghabel, a theological scholar and well-known student of the late Ayatollah Montazeri said that he personally witnessed up to fifty executions in front of him, a fellow inmate borrowed his pen to write his last will. He also said that these executions were a violation of Sharia Law and carried no judicial weight, “if these execution sentences were without any problems, why were they being carried out secretly?”
After the interview, Ghabel was arrested in September and sent back to Vakilabad prison. The Campaign is still being told of hundreds of prisoners on death row awaiting execution inside Vakilabad.
Source: Talking Drugs
Nationwide percentage of treatment admissions primarily linked to alcohol has declined, while the percentage primarily linked to illicit drugs has increased
Although the overall rate of admissions to substance abuse treatment in the U.S. remained stable between 1998 and 2008, at about 770 admissions for every 100,000 persons in the population, a new study shows striking changes and variations in admission rates by region. For example, the rate of admissions for alcohol as the primary drug has declined by 15 percent nationally. However admission rates for alcohol in West North Central states (Ark., Iowa, Kan., Minn., Mo., N.D., Neb. and S.D.) remained the same.
The full report is available at:
It provides detailed charts and tables showing the admission rates for a wide variety of substances for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for each year over the course of this 11 year period. It also provides data by Census divisions -- groups of states delineated by the Census Bureau. These materials allow easy analyses of changing admission trends for any state or region of the country.
For related publications and information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/.
From a giant billboard in the Salvadorean capital, a man with a defiant attitude shows off a slogan on his shirt: "No one can intimidate El Salvador," it reads.
The ad - part of a government-funded anti violence campaign - holds a special significance at the time when many worry that an overflow of Mexico's drug violence could soon hit this small Central American nation.
The first one to raise the alert was President Mauricio Funes himself, last April. "We have information that they [the cartels] have entered El Salvador with exploratory purposes," President Funes said.
Because of what he described as the "effectiveness" of Mexican President Felipe Calderon's policies, the cartels were looking at new bases for their operations, he added. Since then, security forces have been watching closely to see if criminal organisations like the Zetas - one of Mexico's most violent cartels - are deploying in Salvadorean territory.
The cartels' possible collusion - or confrontation - with local gangs is also being monitored. Douglas Garcia Funes from the Salvadorean national police says intelligence suggests that gang members are already "being used by or are operatives for the transport of drugs and money towards the United States, passing through Mexico".
In a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, this is a sobering scenario. It could bring more chaos to an already violent country, many Salvadoreans say - and the government seems to be bracing for the worst. "We are certainly worried, and that is why we want to act in a preventive manner," Hugo Martinez, El Salvador's foreign minister, told BBC News.
The presence of the gangs known as "maras", born among Salvadorean migrants in Los Angeles in the 1980s, is believed to be the largest contributor to those soaring rates. Some estimates say that about 15,000 young men and women belong to one of the gangs. In some families, a third generation of gang members is now developing.
Source: BBC News
The persistent failure of drug war policies and generational change are turning reformist ideas once considered taboo into mainstream thinking.
The prospects for reforming drug policy have never been so good. The persistent failure and negative consequences of drug war policies, combined with budgetary woes and generational change, are mainstreaming reformist ideas once considered taboo.
Nowhere is this convergence more evident than with respect to marijuana. In 1969, when Gallup first asked Americans if they support legalizing marijuana use, 12 percent were in favor. Support hovered in the mid-20s for many years, then started drifting upward—from 25 percent in 1995 to 36 percent in 2005. In October, at the height of the landmark campaign for legalization in California, the latest Gallup poll found 46 percent in favor nationally, with 50 percent opposed. Prop 19 garnered 46.5 percent of the vote—and roughly a quarter of Californians who voted against it said they favored legalization but were hesitant to vote yes for one reason or another.
Criminal justice reformers know that marijuana offenses account for "only" 50,000–100,000 of the roughly 500,000 Americans behind bars for a drug law violation, but arrests for marijuana possession represent 45 percent of the 1.7 million drug arrests made annually in recent years. And as Queens College professor Harry Levine has amply documented, African-Americans and Latinos are arrested for marijuana offenses at dramatically higher rates than whites, even though they are no more likely to use or possess marijuana. It's only a matter of time before the racial justice implications of marijuana prohibition and legalization overcome the cultural conservatism of African-American and Latino communities.
According to the Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans who live in the West now favor legalizing marijuana use. It's thus highly likely that 2012 will see more legalization initiatives in Western states, and with the support of young people—who consistently say they care a lot about this issue and turn out in higher numbers for presidential elections—a few may actually succeed.
Unfortunately, the recent Republican takeover of the House does not bode well for other aspects of drug policy reform. Lamar Smith, the incoming Judiciary Committee chair, was the only member of Congress to speak out last summer against the bipartisan reform of crack cocaine sentencing laws. Republican control may also undermine recent progress on issues like medical marijuana and federal funding for needle exchange. Elsewhere, New Mexico's incoming Republican governor, Susanna Martinez, is a prosecutor who has threatened to shut down the state's tightly run medical marijuana program, and New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie seems determined to strangle his state's nascent medical marijuana program with nonsensical regulations.
But all is not lost around the country. Incoming Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin introduced a marijuana decriminalization bill when he was in the state legislature and favors harm-reduction policies with respect to other drugs. Rhode Island's new governor, Lincoln Chafee, seems to get it too. Prospects for drug policy reform will be better in Connecticut without Republican Governor Jodi Rell, who vetoed medical marijuana legislation and blocked other drug policy reforms, and in California without Arnold Schwarzenegger, who opposed most pragmatic efforts to reduce the state's prison population and vetoed numerous harm-reduction bills. The overall state prison population declined for the first time in thirty-eight years in 2009, a result in good part of an emerging bipartisan consensus that nearly bankrupt state governments can no longer afford to keep locking up ever more people, especially for nonviolent drug offenses.
The greatest challenge today is one that was best articulated a couple of years ago by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, co-chaired by former presidents Cardoso of Brazil, Gaviria of Colombia and Zedillo of Mexico. It is to "break the taboo" on vigorous, honest and open debate about all drug policy options, including harm reduction, decriminalization and legalization. That's what drug war advocates most fear—because they know the policies they advocate ultimately are indefensible on grounds of science, compassion, health or human rights. Breaking taboos requires courage, but it is an essential step on the path to broader drug policy reform.
- A multi-agency programme launched today in New York will help curb drug trafficking and organized crime in West Africa, a hub for cocaine trafficking from Latin America to Europe. As narco-traffickers adjust their tactics to evade counter-narcotic efforts, West Africa is witnessing new criminal methods, which call for stepped-up and coordinated international responses.
International cooperation gathered greater momentum today with the new United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Programme for West Africa 2010-2014. At a high-level session co-chaired by UNODC, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), in cooperation with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), parties voiced their commitment to the Programme, which is designed to address new drug and crime trends in a comprehensive and integrated way.
Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, said that the Regional Programme for West Africa "represents an opportunity to support the ECOWAS regional framework through effective collaboration among all international stakeholders involved in fighting drugs and transnational organized crime in West Africa".
To read more, please follow this link
Leaked embassy cables reveal that US diplomats privately blame Jakarta for instability and ''chronic underdevelopment'' in West Papua, where military commanders have been accused of drug smuggling and illegal logging rackets across the border with Papua New Guinea. A September 2009 cable from the US embassy in Jakarta says ''the region is politically marginalised and many Papuans harbour separatist aspirations''. An earlier cable, from October 2007, details the claims of an Indonesian foreign affairs official about military influence in Papua.
''[The Indonesian official] claims that the Indonesian military (TNI) has far more troops in Papua than it is willing to admit to, chiefly to protect and facilitate TNI's interests in illegal logging operations,'' the cable says.
''The governor [of Papua] … had to move cautiously so as not to upset the TNI, which he said operates as a virtually autonomous governmental entity within the province.''
The cable notes that because the allegations are coming from an Indonesian official rather than a non-governmental organisation, they ''take on an even more serious cast''. 2006 cable details a briefing from a PNG government official that the armed forces were ''involved in both illegal logging and drug smuggling in PNG''.
In another cable from 2006, the US embassy records the reaction of Indonesian authorities to a riot in Papua that left four officials dead. ''While the gruesome murder of three unarmed policemen and an air force officer at the hands of an angry mob is unconscionable, the authorities' handling of the aftermath has merely added a new chapter to the history of miscarriages of justice in Papua,'' it says.
Cables from throughout last year blame the Indonesian government's neglect of Papua - including the failure to ensure revenue generated by mining is distributed fairly - for continuing unrest.
''Most money transferred to the province remains unspent although some has gone into ill-conceived projects or disappeared into the pockets of corrupt officials. Many central government ministries have been reluctant to cede power to the province. As a result, implementation of the [Special Autonomy] law has lagged and Papuans increasingly view the law as a failure,'' a September 2009 cable says.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
The Fair Sentencing Act passed this summer knocked down the requirement of long prison sentences for possession of crack cocaine, but a quirk in how the law was written has resulted in some defendants being sentenced under the old rules—and the situation could continue for years.
Four months after Congress rewrote the sentencing guidelines for possession of crack cocaine, defendants are still being sentenced under the old stiff mandatory rules. Gary Fields elaborates on the quirks in the language of the new law.
Lawmakers who backed the change, with the support of the attorney general and federal sentencing officials, aren't pleased with the outcome. They said the new guidelines rectified an injustice born during the drug wars of the 1980s. Instead, the snafu has created a parallel universe where defendants face different rules for the same crimes—sometimes in front of the same judge—because their offenses were committed at different times.
The cause of the problem: Congress didn't say whether the Act should apply to crimes committed before Aug. 3, when it was signed into law. Penalties for any repealed law remain in place for acts committed under that statute, unless lawmakers "expressly" establish otherwise, according to a federal statute.
And because prosecutors have a five-year statute of limitations to file charges for most federal crimes, people accused of committing crack-related offenses before the revision are subject to the old rules.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said prosecutors were required to seek the previous law's penalties for crimes committed before the changes were enacted.
But prosecutors and judges have always had some discretion in the crimes that are charged and sentences meted out. Congressional aides said the thinking of lawmakers who supported the law without a retroactive provision was that most prosecutors and judges would opt to follow the new, more lenient rules, even for acts committed before Aug. 3.
To read more, please follow this link
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Nearly one in 10 babies were born addicted to drugs last year in southern Ohio's Scioto County. Rehab admissions for prescription painkiller addictions were five times the national average. In a rare step, the health commissioner declared a public health emergency, something usually reserved for disease outbreaks.
The culprits putting the rural county at the forefront of a burgeoning national problem are not only the people abusing the painkillers, officials say. They blame at least eight area "pill mills" - clinics or doctors that dole out prescription medications like OxyContin with little discretion. At least two health care providers are facing criminal charges.
"I would describe it as if a pharmaceutical atomic bomb went off," said Lisa Roberts, a nurse for the health department in Portsmouth, an Ohio River city of about 20,000 with falling population and high unemployment.
Health officials say nine of every 10 fatal drug overdoses in Scioto (pronounced sy-OH'-toh) County are caused by prescription drugs. Of those drug deaths, nearly two-thirds of the individuals did not have prescriptions, meaning they bought the drugs illegally or got them from friends or family.
At least 117 people died of overdoses in the county between 2000 and 2008. Pictures of the dead fill a storefront in downtown Portsmouth that a grieving mother converted to a memorial to the epidemic.
Thanks to a thriving drug culture that breeds crime and intravenous use, Scioto County's per capita rates of murder, fatal overdoses and hepatitis C infections have in recent years been outranked only by Ohio's biggest urban areas. The DEA considers the county one of the worst places in the country for prescription painkiller abuse, with more people abusing per capita than almost anywhere else.
Health Commissioner Aaron Adam's public health emergency declaration nearly a year ago was a largely symbolic gesture but did allow the county to set up a military-style chain of command and could allow staffers from other health department divisions to work solely on the problem.
To read more, please follow this link
Source: The Washington Post