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May 18th, 2011

Pot for Life

The title does not mean what you probably think it does.  Instead, it is referring to the life sentence given to Cornell Hood II here in Louisiana for getting busted a fourth time with marijuana.  Remember that, in this state, life means life.  There is no parole for lifers here; the only state in the Union where that holds true.

This boils my blood, as did the recent AlterNet article, The 5 Worst States to Get Busted With Pot by Paul Armentano.  I knew, before even clicking through to it, that Louisiana would be on there.  We have some of the harshest laws and toughest punishments in the nation.  Sure, enough, we made #4; which reads, in part:

Each year, cops make nearly 19,000 pot busts in the Bayou State – some 91 percent for simple possession – and according to Gettman, only three other states routinely punish minor offenders so severely.

It also brings up Cornell Hood, who was convicted on February 15 in Covington, Louisiana under the "repeat-offender" law.  Up to 2 lbs. of pot were found at his home near Slidell during a routine visit by his probation officer.  It was Hood's fourth conviction for possession and/or distribution and the State chose to "send him up the river", as they say.  Yes, for a victimless crime, this man will die in prison.

One of three for a long time, Louisiana is now the only state that still has "real life"; which means that, 90% of the time, you will die in prison.

"No possibility of parole" means exactly that in Louisiana.  Indeed, a second-degree murder charge in Louisiana is known as a "second death penalty".  Due to such harsh sentencing, 97% of the 5,000+ inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola will die there; that is a statistical fact.

Now add to that list Cornell Hood.

He will be sent off - most likely to Angola - and serve the rest of his natural life behind bars.  Are the streets of Louisiana any safer because Mr. Hood, known only to be a pot smoker (and possibly dealer) as far as breaking the law is concerned, is off of them?

Truly, has justice been served?  Or will the cost of keeping a man convicted of a victimless crime behind bars for the rest of his life be worth it for Louisiana and it's flailing economy?

The United States, as a whole, is insanely backwards and backwoods-ignorant when it comes to drugs and its fruitless yet costly "war on drugs".

Justice is rarely served, though so-cheap-it's-nearly-free slave labor of inmates contracted out through Prison Enterprises certainly serves the free market, capitalist society we have become.  And the majority of Republicans, Libertarians, evangelical Christians, and most social conservatives want us to be even more like that, if possible.

Do not for a moment think that locking up gaggles of people for ridiculous reasons is to cleanup our streets and/or eliminate crime in our towns and cities.  It's all to turn a profit, these days.  Some prisons - those bought out by private industries, as Jindal is trying to do here - will not even take "problem" inmates; they do not good workers make, you see.

It looks and sounds good for these politicians to be "hard on crime" and lock up everyone and throw away the key - the public eats that shit right up.

But it's all a ruse, my friends.  The wool is over your eyes and where you see justice being done those politicians see dollar signs in the pockets of the big industries and companies that are going to donate to their next campaign fund.

Wake up, America.  You're being sold out and you do not even see it.


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