Atlanta “ends” Cash Bail requirements

(Activists celebrate the passing of a new law that exempts bail requirements on certain misdemeanor offenses.)

 

On Tuesday, February 6th, 2017, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an ordinance Tuesday that eliminates the Municipal Court’s cash bond requirement for certain low-level offenders who otherwise would be forced to sit in jail due to being unable to afford a bond.

The Atlanta Mayor stated, “…It makes no fiscal sense to hold someone in jail over a $500 bond”.

According to the many reports, after six hours of public comment and debate Monday afternoon, the City Council approved the ordinance 13-0. The bail bond industry itself appeared to be the main opponent of this law during public comments. However, citizens largely supported this effort. Sure, the bail-bonds industry may lose a little money, alas, families will be safe from the racketeering system that our legal system has become!

Like in all matters of the law, we have to strike a balance between liberty and security; Protecting the logical rights of men and their properties, while not creating monopolies that only the wealthy and the governments themselves can understand or afford to participate in. That’s the problem with our current legal system. The legal system is a glorified socialized “gun” that we use to point at one another in a “civilized” courtroom. However, it doesn’t make society any fairer or safer when that shared use of force can only be afforded by certain groups of people. Namely, the extremely poor who can claim to be “indigent” , or the extremely rich who can afford the best lawyers or to pay off judges. It is the middle-class who has no remedy. They don’t qualify for low-income exceptions, and they cannot afford a legal team of their own. Where do they go?

The legal industry and the for profit prison system, nicknamed the “Prison Industrial Complex”by many, benefits the state departments, judges, prison investors, bail bondsmen, lawyers, and police officers looking to keep their quota numbers up. However, this sort of “for profit” legal system creates another hurdle for the poor looking to get a leg-up.

Public urination, driving on a suspended license, an unpaid traffic ticket, simple possession of marijuana, — these are not charges synonymous with dangerous criminals who may flee the country or state, they are merely “infractional” petty offenders. To hold these people on a bond, who probably can’t afford the bail money, will sit in jail over such infractions whereas they are likely to lose their jobs and further slip into the cycle of legal penalties which facilitates poverty and loss of family ties.

The system doesn’t seem to care. As long as they are pulling in revenue for the system, lawmakers appear oblivious to long-term impacts on low-income families looking to escape poverty. According to statisticbrain.comthe average police officer in the USA pulls in about $300,000 per year in revenue from citations. That’s about $6,232,000,000 per year nationally! That’s a lot of revenue for infractions that could largely be forgiven, warned, or overlooked.  If I receive a seat-belt ticket, and am forced to pay the state $50, how does that solve any problems? If I cannot afford the ticket, my license will be suspended, taking away my ability to get to and from work, further forcing my family into the bellows of poverty. If I get caught driving on a suspended license, I go jail.

Holding a prisoner isn’t cheap either. It costs taxpayers about $31,000 per year to feed, clothe, and house an inmate.  That’s about $85 per day, much more than the cost of your average citation. But, the prison investors, bail bondsmen, law makers, government workers and attorneys who make money mitigating these issues don’t care about tax-payers or at risk families. They care about profit margins and expanding department budgets!

Some may say, “Just follow the law and it won’t be a problem!”.  We must ask ourselves, why does the United States have the largest prison population in the world? Over 70% of our inmates are non-violent! It’s a money scheme! It costs $500 to legally operate a lemonade stand in America! The average American commits three misdemeanors and a felony per day without even realizing it! Literally every inch of American life has a statute or code attached to it! If the legal system can’t get you for running a red-light, maybe they can get you for being a “public nuisance” or for the bumper on your car being one inch lower than what statute allows. The more laws we create, the more criminals we create by default! It is an inadvertent consequence stemming from good intentions; or perhaps it is all designed purposely to be this way? Or perhaps, the truth is somewhere in the middle?

Regardless, this reform effort that the city of Atlanta has made, thanks to so many passionate advocates and leaders like Atlanta based attorney Gerald A. Griggs, who championed this effort, is a welcomed change! It is so rare for attorneys and politicians to come together on behalf of the poor. When these instances happen, they deserve all of our applause and credit.! I salute Mayor Lance-Bottoms and all of those who fought for the repealment of such archaic bail practices.

Sure, if a man is wanted for malicious battery,murder, rape, robbery, or grand theft auto, it makes sense to put a bail requirement on him/her. Alas, those who are subject to a bail requirement for petty offenses are merely pieces of evidence proving what a corrupt system we have. This new change in the law is an excellent move and I pray that all cities follow suit!  This may seem like a small victory, but in reality, it can potentially turn into a huge wave of momentum in terms of criminal law reform.

Please send your special thanks to:

Gerald A. Griggs,

https://www.geraldagriggs.com/

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/mayor-s-office/meet-the-mayor

 

—And all other activists who assisted in this effort!

 

-Randell Stroud

Nalini-Global

2018

 

Cannabidiol Discussed in International Drug Scheduling Convention on Psychotropic Substances

To:  ecddsecretariat@who.int

The Secretariat of the World Health Organization

From: Naliniglobal@yahoo.com

Nalini-Global, Founder, Randell Stroud- International Human Rights Organization

RE: International Drug Scheduling Convention on Psychotropic Substances

The United States , as well as the international community, will be participating in a global study to potentially reschedule a host of illegal and/or regulated substances including Ketamine, Carfentanil. CBD (cannabidiol) and various other narcotics. Nalini-Global has submitted an official comment to the convention and  will also be submitting this article to the secretariat of the World Health Organization as secondary material to be referenced at the later stages of the study.

The study is known as the “International Drug Scheduling Convention on Psychotropic Substances”  and is being overseen by the World Health Organization.

An official notice by the FDA was released regarding the convention and its procedures: (Read as follows)

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of 17 drug substances. These comments will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs. WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs. This notice requesting comments is required by the Controlled Substances Act (the CSA).”

As you can tell from the notice, the FDA as well as the World Health Organization, are inviting persons of interests as well as international organizations, to be involved in the discussion of rescheduling certain “drugs” or having certain ones completely removed from scheduling.  We here at Nalini-Global have decided to throw our hats into the discussion and submit an official comment to be reviewed during the convention which is set to be discussed after the deadline for submitting comments has passed. (September 13th, 2017)  Each member state must provide an official response to the secretariat of the World Health Organization by September 30th,2017.

Upon first glance, many readers might say, “Drugs are bad! There is no discussion to be had!”.  However, many countries have decriminalized all drugs or have put more focus into “harm reduction strategies”. Countries like Portugal and Switzerland, treat drug addiction as a medical problem, not as a criminal one. ( Mind you, “decriminalization”  and “legalization” are not the same thing.  )

In the scope of this convention,  various substances are being looked at to see whether or not they have any medical value and/or whether or not these substances should be reclassified or possibly completely removed from the drug “schedules”.  What are “schedules”? Drug schedules are essentially a chart that labels certain substances in levels of potential danger from use.  There are Five Schedules. Schedule I drugs include, cocaine, heroine, LSD, Marijuana(including CBD products), Peyote, Ecstasy, and a few others. According to the Schedule I guidelines created by the FDA, Schedule I drugs are considered “highly addictive” and pose a potential for abuse.

Schedule V drugs are known as “controlled substances”, usually over the counter drugs such as codeine or Robitussin.   (Read more about Drug Schedules here)

Currently, the United States of America has the largest prison population in the world, more than Russia or China combined. Over 70% of American inmates are incarcerated on drug related charges. This prison industrial complex creates economic barriers and deep scars on those effected. While it is Nalini-Global’s position that all drugs should be decriminalized in a way that is similar to what Portugal and Switzerland have implemented, we have decided to focus on “Cannabis”, specifically “Cannabidiol”  also known as “CBD”.

While some argue the benefits of psychedelics such as Peyote, LSD, and other substances, pushing for decriminalization in the United States appears to be a far-cry in the midst of America’s 30 year long, “War on Drugs”.  Alas, pushing for the legalization and/or decriminalization of Cannabis, specifically CBD, makes alot more sense.  Hence, why so many comments submitted towards this convention have specifically requested that CBD be removed from the schedules completely.

While some may argue that marijuana is dangerous because of its intoxicating effects and should remain illegal (except for under the supervision of a doctor for medical purposes), such arguments cannot logically be made towards CBD.  CBD is one of the cannabanoids found in Cannabis and its related plant, “Hemp”. CBD is non-intoxicating and acts on “CB2” receptors in the body, while THC (the intoxicating compound found in marijuana) , mainly acts on “CB1” receptors in the body.  These receptors influence pain, inflammation responses, mood, sleep patterns, and other functions in the body.

That’s right! The human body is actually built with cannabanoid receptors, as if nature intended for this plant to be consumed.  Most Marijuana strains are bred and sold with very high THC content. THC is the chemical that gives the user a sense of euphoria, pleasure, and does have pain relief and anti-tumor fighting properties, however, it can cause paranoia and impairment.  CBD is one of the compounds found in marijuana and hemp that contains no intoxicating effects yet retains most of the medical benefits that THC has to offer and then some! Calming anxiety, reducing inflammation and pain, inducing relaxation, stopping seizures, the list goes on!

When we hear the word, “Drug”, we immediately think of intoxication and danger. However, CBD poses no danger. Even in very high dosages, the only reported side-effect was lowered-blood pressure which returned to normal when use was discontinued.

Celebrities such as Michael J Fox, Montel Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg have also publicly endorsed  the use of CBD’s for their own health issues.  Michael J Fox, actor and comedian, stated that CBD was the only thing that reduced his tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. Montell Williams stated, quote, “Snowboarding and Cannabis saved my life and have helped me combat my disease of Muscular Sclerosis.”

When THC and CBD are ingested in balanced amounts as such found in cannabis strains like, “Harlequin”, the medicinal effects of cannabis are fully realized. However, the Hemp plant, which contains almost no THC, does have a high amount of CBD. CBD by itself is not quite as powerful alone without the other dozen cannabanoids supporting it, which are naturally found in Cannabis, yet it remains extremely beneficially and extremely safe. In my opinion, CBD should be regulated as if it were a vitamin C tablet, to be sold in stores everywhere. Due to it not have any major adverse effects from use or found to be intoxicating in any shape or form, it makes no sense for it to be included in the FDA’s drug schedules.

To read Nalini-Global’s official comment submitted to the Convention on Narcotics, please refer to the information below.

ID: FDA-2017-N-4515-0291 (Docket #)

Tracking Number: 1k1-8y3x-1rgt

Nalini-Global- Official Comment (Click here)  

note: Comment can also be downloaded on our Human Rights Reporting Page

 

If I can be of any additional assistance towards the process or development of this convention, please reply to this correspondence with additional instructions.

Sincerely,

Randell D Stroud

Owner,

Nalini-Global

Kentucky Police Department tests the 4th Amendment

To: Paducah Police Chief, Brandon Barnhill-  bbarnhill@paducahky.gov

From: Nalini-Global- Naliniglobal@yahoo.com 

The Paducah Police Department of Kentucky has recently launched a new initiative known as the, “Lock it or Lose it” campaign. Officers will now be encouraged to conduct sweeps around the city to check vehicles parked on public property, to see if they are properly locked and/or if valuables are in plain-view. If the vehicle is found to be unlocked and unattended by the owner, the officer will run the license plate and make attempts to reach the owner of the vehicle by telephone. If the officer cannot make contact, the officer will place a door hanger on the owner’s registered home address linked to the license plate. The informational door hanger will contain a warning to keep their vehicle properly locked up.

Officers who come across vehicles that are properly locked, will leave a “Thank you” card on the windshield of the vehicle. On the back of the card, a survey can be completed and mailed to the Paducah Police Department. Those who fill out the survey are automatically entered into a drawing contest to win prizes.  Officer Christopher Fearon recently spoke on a local Television program called “The Paducah View“, promoting the initiative stating that , “….Paducah is a safe town to live in, and sometimes people gain a false sense of security because of that.”   The initiative is not a nation-wide federal mandate, however, other cities and states have launched similar programs such as the “Lock it or Lose it” program launched in Lakeland,Florida last year. The Lakeland Police Department uses even more invasive tactics such as placing a bright orange cone on the top of an unlocked vehicle and leaving “lock it or leave it” brochures inside of the vehicle in order to send a “wake up” message to the car owner to lock up his/her valuables.

According to an article written by the West Kentucky Star, Officer Fearon states that, “……the Paducah Police Department will not leave warning hangers on the car itself nor will they open the car doors.” However, there is a million dollar question that comes with such a statement.

How can you know if a car is unlocked unless you try to open it?

On the surface, such a program may seem innocent or even well-intended. To be honest, it probably is well intended. Some may jump to conspiracy theories about, “Big Brother is Watching”, or claim that there is some secret agenda, yet, I believe it is simply a plan that is not well-thought out albeit well intended.

I have two problems with this initiative.

  1. A potential breach of the 4th Amendment
  2.  An abuse of power 

For an officer to make contact with a person or his property, there generally has to be “probable cause” or “Reasonable Suspicion”. “Probable cause” is a principle that is highly debated, especially with practices such as the “Terry Stop” being the norm these days.  A “Terry Stop”, is more a less an officer’s legal right to stop someone for questioning if the subject is doing something “suspicious” but is not engaging in a blatant activity that warrants probable cause for arrest or seizure of property.

Looking at the “Lock it or Lose It” program, I can see many pitfalls with this well-intended program.

Under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, a private individual has the right to be secure in his possessions and maintain his privacy. This includes his home, his personal belongings, his e-mails, text messages, and yes……his vehicle! If an officer wants to enter the home of a citizen, search a vehicle, or seize property, he must obtain a warrant signed from a judge or the subject must voluntarily consent.

If an officer routinely approached your house, unwarranted, and began to “jiggle” the locks on your door to make sure they are “secured”, would you feel safer or violated? If your answer is “violated”, then you are probably not a supporter of this initiative. Or at least you shouldn’t be.   In order for an officer to determine whether or not a vehicle is locked, unless the door is left wide-open, the officer will have to physically attempt to open the door of the vehicle. The Paducah Police Department claims that they will not open doors, but how else could they test whether or not a car door is locked?

If this program becomes the norm around the nation, citizens will begin to develop a false-sense of trust for law enforcement officers who “check” their locks. While I believe most officers have good hearts and truly want to protect their communities, who is to say that this program wouldn’t be alluring to an officer who may be inclined to use this program to conduct full on searches or to plant evidence illegally? This type of program could create a curtain for abuse of power and make it easier for law enforcement to target citizens or to obtain an arrest and/or conviction.

If my car is stolen, or my valuables are taken because of my own negligence, I have no one to blame but myself and the person who lacks the moral aptitude to refrain from stealing.  Our local police are already burdened with investigators looking to track down murderers, pedophiles, rapists, and other violent criminals.  We cannot expect law enforcement to protect us 24/7 unless we all agreed to live in a militarized police-state where our every action, thought, and movement were all being recorded or monitored.

With the rise of the TSA, Terrorist threats and the controversy surrounding the “NSA Spy Program” leaked by former intelligence officer Edward Snowden, many Americans look at this program with the same question that has plagued us all since September 11th, 2001.

“How do we balance security while respecting our individual liberty and privacy?”

The police and military have a job to do. Their #1 duty is to protect the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of their fellow residents and citizens. Their job is not to make sure we button up our shirts correctly, brush our teeth every morning, or lock our cars when we run inside the grocery store to purchase a loaf of bread.

Not only is this program disrespecting the 4th amendment of the Constitution, but it is also creating unnecessary, “Busy Work” for police officers who could be applying their time and resources towards tackling and solving crimes that are actually taking place or have already taken place.  From a tax burden issue, who will pay for these informational cards to be printed up? What will be the administrative cost of this program a year from now?  How many man hours will be dedicated to this program? These, among other issues, certainly need to be addressed before further implementation of this program continues.

What are your thoughts? Should the program be discontinued, altered, or do you see it as perfectly innocent?

Let me know at, NaliniGlobal@yahoo.com

Thank you,

With love and honor

Randell D Stroud,

Founder of Nalini-Global

2017

(To be Submitted)