After watching a recent 60 Minutes episode, Congressman Cohen delivered a floor speech on the need to end the practice of local law enforcement using young people as informants for minor, non-violent drug related crimes without regard to their rights or safety. Below is video footage of that floor speech:
Below is an e-mail that I received from the amazing Betty Aldworth, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. I posted it when I received, but felt it was worth sharing again in light of Congressman Cohen's speech:
Last Sunday, 60 Minutes aired an investigation of the use of young people as confidential informants featuring the story of SSDP alumna Rachel Hoffman. Frequently, young people who are busted for minor drug offenses are pressured into becoming informants without the guidance of trusted adults, advice from an attorney, or a full understanding of their rights and the likely outcomes of their choices. Frightened, pressured, and alone, they agree to participate in a scheme to catch more "bad guys." But the truth is that this scheme will, at best, catch their friends in the same web or, at worst, expose them to the violence inherent in the unregulated drug market or even death.
"Joe", an SSDP member at a U.S. college, is one of those people who was busted allegedly in possession of a small amount of marijuana concentrate. "Joe" is facing a variety of charges including drug manufacturing, a very serious charge, so he asked us not to use his name. Just a few states away, marijuana concentrate is manufactured and sold by business people who are celebrated on the covers of magazines, but "Joe" was told he could face up to 6 years in prison. Without the opportunity to consult with a trusted adult or attorney, "Joe" was pressured to participate in the police department's confidential informant program to avoid being charged. If he were charged, it's unlikely he'd face 6 years in prison as he was told, but he would certainly face suspension or expulsion from his university, unmanageable fines, some jail time, and a lifetime of curtailed opportunities due to the felony charge.
Thankfully, "Joe" was able to work out another arrangement with the police and has neither been charged nor forced to participate in a drug purchase. Since then, he has joined SSDP and is working to make sure other students don't face the same kind of fate. You can join "Joe" and other SSDP members to stop this devastating practice.
- Encourage your local and state authorities to adopt a policy which protects young people and hold your school accountable for student safety.
- Educate your friends and community about the tactics used by law enforcement to recruit confidential informants.
- Support SSDP's efforts to protect young people from the drug war. Make a one-time or monthly gift today so that our 300 chapters can work on changing confidential informant policies and other policies that purport to protect young people but actually put them directly in harm's way.
Together, we can protect future generations of students from this insidious and dangerous practice.
Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy