A recent report from the Drug Policy Alliance indicates that while police forces waste an exuberant amount of cash resources fighting the War on Drugs, they still insist on blaming a lack of funding for their inability to process the more than 100,000 rape kits currently in storage facilities -- just waiting for the system to give a damn.
An article published earlier this week in the Washington Post provides horrific details of the rape kit backlog in the United States. “In 2009, authorities found more than 11,000 unprocessed kits at the Detroit crime lab after it was closed for improperly handling weapons evidence. After testing the first 2,000 kits, authorities identified 127 serial rapists and made 473 matches overall to known convicts or arrestees, or to unknown people whose genetic material was found at crime scenes.”
The city of Memphis is another municipality that has an embarrassing overload of untested rape kits -- around 12,000 of them -- some of which have been shelved since the 1970s. Yet, even after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received a $3.4 million grant to catch up on violent cold-cases, public records show the force only spent $537,000 on “a few hundred cases” and gave up.
Drug Policy Alliance director of national affairs, Bill Piper argues that with nearly 1.5 million Americans arrested every year for drug related offenses, 660,000 for possession of small amounts of marijuana, there is undoubtedly a skewed and green-eyed perception in the United States as to what constitutes a real crime.
“It costs an estimated $10,000 to arrest, process and convict someone for marijuana possession,” writes Piper. “Then there’s the cost of keeping thousands of drug task forces operational, most of which do nothing but bust people for marijuana or other low-level drug offenses. New York City claims to not have enough money to test all its rape test kits but spends millions each year randomly searching young people of color for marijuana.”
Perhaps the reason behind this sickening injustice rests in the fact that police agencies are awarded by the federal government to bust minor drug offenders, not rapists. Earlier this week, HIGH TIMES reported that the Feds are trading low-level marijuana–related arrests for federal dollars under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. This bribery system allows police forces to capitalize on drug seizures associated with minor drug offenses, while there are no federal bonuses given to agencies that take down violent predators.
Piper points out that while recent polls indicate a strong outpouring of public support for less focus on marijuana offenses and more on actual crime, he says there are still too many lawmakers in bed with the War on Drugs to make a significant change. “It’s time we start calling them out,” he said. “Every dollar and police hour spent on nonviolent drug offenders is money and time not spent on real crime.”
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.