Blood tests of everyone in Darlinghurst, Kings Cross and the rest of the city at a weekend would be over 50 per cent positive to ecstasy, cocaine, speed and/or cannabis. Sniffer dogs would be at risk of overdosing if unleashed and given their heads in public streets at weekends in the inner city.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Savage sentencing shames Australia
Sydney Barrister Charles Waterstreet, writing in yesterday’s Sun Herald, compares Australia with Indonesia in the extreme severity of its sentencing for drug offences. He tells of two Dutch police here to testify in an ecstasy importation case who were "astonished at the savagery of our sentences for large ecstasy importations from Europe."
"We send them away for 20 years," wrote Waterstreet. "In the Netherlands, ecstasy supply is treated as a tax offence – offenders are dealt with for the taxes they avoided in the supply. They get a couple of years."
"The Netherlands regards Australia as the Indonesia of the Pacific," he wrote in the context of Schapelle Corby's 20-year sentence there.
Our sentences are severe by any standard, but considering that drug offences are victimless crimes, this sentencing is deeply unjust and therefore immoral. Local hard-heads with an empathy bypass (usually alcohol drinkers) dismiss this with the line "Well they knew it was against the law so tough luck."
But that doesn't make the law right or justify giving someone an effective life sentence for a victimless crime. At the very least, it mocks the punishment we hand out for real crimes such as rape, assault and murder, which are often shorter than drug sentences. An unjust life sentence steals a life, so it's comparable to murder. The state is the real criminal here.
The War on Drugs is a civil war, a cultural battle between a hard right ideological hangover from the 1950s and a sizeable subculture of people who simply prefer safer, better quality drugs than alcohol. As Waterstreet says:
The War on Drugs is a civil war, a war against our own people. The stupid thing is, it doesn't even work. As Albert Einstein said: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Australian governments should be ashamed of themselves.