Vote 'no': stop local war on drugs

Carol DeProsse, 26 April 2013  •  Comments

Any resident who has been paying attention to this upcoming vote knows that Johnson County suffers from the same ills that the general American system of incarceration suffers from:

  • A disproportionate number of minorities in the prison population, most of them black.
  • Too many imprisoned for victimless crimes.
  • And too many people sitting in jail for offenses for which they are too poor to post bail, while those charged with similar crimes, but have access to financial resources, go free.

According to Iowa City’s 2012 application for Edward J. Byrne Justice Grant funding, from 2008 through 2013 year-to-date the special response team of the Iowa City Police Department was called out a total of 28 times. More than half of these callouts (15) had warrants to search for drugs.

In 2011 the Iowa City police confiscated seven dosage units of LSD, one-half ounce of methamphetamine, 10 ounces of cocaine, one ounce of crack cocaine, 1.3 ounces of heroin, 56 dosage units of ecstasy, one-quarter ounce of psilocybin mushrooms, 1,427 prescription drugs and 38 pounds of marijuana — which is equivalent to about 152 4-ounce bags of weed.

More than one out of 10 UI students graduate with some kind of charge on their record.

My head spins trying fathom reasons why groups of heavily armed police need to be breaking into people’s homes to search for small quantities of drugs. Heavily armed police units are best utilized for situations such as what recently occurred in the Boston area.

Johnson County has an opportunity to be a leader in making changes in the way this country imprisons people on May 7 by voting “no” to the proposed $40 million-plus, 195-bed jail.

Carol deProsse
Iowa City