“We can go out and arrest somebody and we don’t have any jail space because we’ve got a jail full of people that commit violent crimes so we have to turn around and let them loose,” [task force Sgt. Dick Madsen] said. “It’s like fishing in a bass tournament. You catch a fish and release it and that way you still have a population of bass in the lake . That’s what we’re doing and we’ve never won a tournament.”I've been saying exactly that - focusing on arrests for drug crimes by definition diverts attention from more serious offenses who actually harm or endanger others. Of course, task force officals try to conflate the two:
Even with a new jail under construction, Madsen said people are needed to “do the fishing.”
“You’re not going to catch the fish to put in the jail,” he said.
“There’s probably less than 10 percent of all crimes in our jurisdiction that are not drug related,” Madsen said. “There’s embezzlement to buy drugs, thievery from hospitals and pharmacies to get drugs, burglaries to get money to buy and drugs and they’re killing each other because of drug disputes.”If you really think they're all the same people and the jails are full, why not spend more time pursuing embezzlers, burglars and murderers? After all, at most a small fraction of drug users ever commit more serious crimes. For most folks targeted by local drug task forces, their worst offense is purchasing and using drugs, or dealing at a very low level to support their habit.
But if you admit that it's harder to justify huge sums of federal pork coming your way. No wonder the Bush Administration wants to get rid of the Byrne grant program.