Maine Wants a Piece of Arizona’s Immigration Law

Posted on April 23, 2011

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Author: Stan Moody

As Maine lurches from one legislative session to another, it becomes common for the media to sit back and decide which bill is valid and which a waste of time. Having been both a legislator and editorial writer, I have an appreciation of the urgings that drive both.

In a word, both are looking for that Hegelian moment that will shed light on the wisdom or foolishness of the status quo.

Making Criminals Out of Pot Smokers…

The status quo of our prison system in the US is one of making criminals out of drug offenders. Pot smokers who move on to new and higher experiences often find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Once they get into the penal system, they are pretty much ruined for life.

Thus, with 5% of the world’s population, we boast 25% of the world’s prisoners, a large percentage of whom began their journey downhill by self-medicating their mental illnesses with cannabis.

Legalize the Stuff!…

Rep. Dianne Russell (D-Portland) addresses the prison growth industry with a bill that would legalize and tax the recreational growth and use of marihuana. The stated objective is to raise revenue and reduce the cost of law enforcement and corrections. The bill has the support of ACLU-ME.

On cue, the press declares such a bill a colossal waste of time on the grounds that marijuana, being a controlled substance, is regulated by the federal government.

Debate a Colossal Waste of Time?…

Is there no merit in raising debate on prison overcrowding in Maine? Every “waste-of-time” bill that focuses on a major social issue helps educate the public on the unintended consequences of both the status quo and change.

I can think of a number of such “waste-of-time” legislative measures in the past. In 2003, the Maine legislature passed a non-binding resolution that asked the President of the United States to exhaust all means of diplomacy before going into Iraq on the grounds that there may, God forbid, be no WMD’s in Iraq. What emerged was exposure of stinkin thinkin on both sides of the aisle.

Gay marriage was another “waste-of-time” initiative. Maine could legalize gay marriage, but few of the proposed civil rights benefits would flow to gay couples until the federal government complied. Yet, without the debate forced by a bill, we would lumber on in our ignorance. With the debate, the ignorance or wisdom of everyone on both sides of the issue emerges.

The War on Drugs is a War on Us!…

Rep. Russell has sneaked into the legislative process a bill that ought to alarm Mainers – not about legalizing marihuana, but about our prison culture. The war on crime and drugs has turned us into a police state. Our prisons are full to overflowing with non-violent would-be sons and daughters of liberty being turned into rebels by our biggest growth industry – corrections.

Because Maine holds the largest proportion of white, suburban, employed and passive (peaceful) citizens in the nation, targets to feed the prison growth industry are moving closer and closer to home.

LD 1095 a Gateway Drug…

LD 1095 is the gateway drug destined to partner Maine with such states as Arizona in tucking away undesirables without adverse publicity. Passage will enable Corrections Corporation of America to build a private prison in rural Maine to house illegal immigrants.

National Public Radio’s Laura Sullivan reported in October, 2010, that Arizona’s infamous alien law, SB 1070, originated from and was heavily lobbied by the private prison industry. One of the key players in that drama was Corrections Corporation of America, the driving force behind Maine’s LD 1095.

In short, CCA will build a federal prison in Maine if the Corrections Commissioner, Joseph Ponte, a former employee of CCA, will be given discretionary authority to ship prisoners out of state. It would be incredibly cheaper and quieter to send our chronic pot smokers to CCA facilities than to flounder around with an ole boy network that is 100 years out of date.

We could keep locking ‘em up without showing our dirty laundry!

Rep. Russell offers an opportunity for debate over our wisdom or foolishness in locking up our rebellious neighbors. As a rebel in my own right, I am for open debate, even for pot smoking and whoopie pies.

Without the debate, the people perish in their ignorance.

Sources:

• Opinion, “Bill to Legalize Marihuana Just a Waste of Time.” Kennebec Journal, April 21, 2011.
• Seth Freed Wessler, “NPR Investigation: Private Prison Companies Helped Write SB1070.” Color Lines, October 28, 2010.
• AP, “It’s the Law: Whoppie Pie Official ‘Treat.’ Kennebec Journal

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