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Drugs: Prison Or Probation

September 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Probation

By Thomas Gallagher


Many people have opposing views on how the drug problem should be tackled, with the epicentre of any debate focusing on two differing solutions to tackle the problem.? These two solutions consist of imposing a sanction such as prison, or tackling the problem from a different angle by offering probation to an offender coupled with drug treatment programs.? This article will assess to the effectiveness of the two systems.? Firstly, the drug crisis and its effects on society will be examined.? Following from this will be an assessment of each of the systems, focusing upon there effectiveness.? Finally, some alternatives will be advocated that depart from the present system.? After assessing all of the evidence available, the conclusion that will be reached is that if society is to curtail the exponential rise in drug abuse, a far more informative system must be implemented, before another generation is lost to drug abuse.

The Drug Conundrum

Drugs have been around in some form or another since 4000BC (Egyptians with wine and marijuana used for medicinal purposes in China).? Although drugs were widely used, it was not until the 19th century that the active substances in drugs were extracted and used as a lifestyle choice.

The addictive nature of drugs was immediately apparent, although there was a gradual recognition of this property with the passing of the first national drug law, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The destructive nature of alcohol in society led to the prohibition period in America.? Therefore, the drug problem has been around, and more importantly, been acknowledged for some time.

The experimentation period of the 1960?s had a profound effect on society.? The ethos was love, drugs, social ideological rebellion, more drugs, and then more drugs.? The administration was rocked to its very foundations, which culminated in far more draconian police force.? Whether proliferation in state interference was inevitable, a position advocated by Orwell, or whether it was a result of drug taking, one can only surmise. Nevertheless, the position is conclusive, drugs have had a significant effect on society.? How society has chosen to deal with this crisis will now be examined.

The Threat of Prison as a Deterrent for drug Use

For an addict, the threat of prison is about as effective as a chocolate teapot in the desert. It relies on the premise that the addiction is controllable.? Anybody who smokes or drinks coffee on a regular basis should be in a position to bear testament that the addictive nature of these two substances, once removed, can have severe effects on their day to day lives.? So, what about heroin or crack cocaine?

Heroin addiction and crack cocaine addiction are possibly two of the most severe drugs for creating dependency and also tolerance. As higher doses are used, over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has become used to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.

The symptoms that a person going through withdrawal process? are cravings, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhoea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), kicking movements, and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can prove to be fatal.? Prison cannot be an effective deterrent against such symptoms.

Effectiveness of Probation

Probation is a term that can have a multitude of meanings, and, may be imposed after a prison sentence, although for drug users, this is often too little too late.? The interpretation given in a dictionary is ?the act of suspending the sentence of a person convicted of a criminal offence and granting that person provisional freedom on the promise of good behaviour?.? This provisional period can entail many things for a convicted drug user, with impositions such as involuntary drug programmes and drug testing.

Involuntary drug programmes can entail taking substitute drugs to wean a person off a specific drug, resulting in a lower dependency and a reduced level of tolerance.? The problems that can emanate form these programs consist of a lack of secondary support for drug users.? This can result in an individual being drawn back into a cyclic situation which ultimately results in that individual taking the very drugs that the substitute drug was supposed replace. Involuntary drug tests emanated from America and involve a person being requested to take a drug test within a specific period of time. If the person tests positive, then the suspended sentence is then imposed, these will often lead to a custodial sentence.

Whilst the two systems do have their own merits, it is possible to adduce from these two alternatives a far from satisfactory conclusion.? Both systems rely heavily on the circumstances that the drug user finds themselves in once the probation period has been imposed.? Those who have funded their habit through criminal activities will often have a criminal record, and thus will be unable to find employment.? They will often still exist in the very same peer groups where the original problems emanated, therefore, there must be a more viable solution to this drug quandary.

A Possible Alternative

The buzz word at this present moment in time is decriminalisation.? Decriminalisation, in its most severe form would involve a complete removal of all criminal sanctions that are currently imposed for drug use.? This would then remove drug users from the criminal process and would focus attention on treatment.? There is staunch opposition to this concept in some quarters as people believe that it would create an environment for experimentation and lead to an exponential rise in drug taking.? Advocates for decriminalisation point to alcohol as an example of a drug that, under correct supervision, can be controlled.


Any problem that involves an addiction will never be able to be tackled by easy solutions.? This article has, however, highlighted to difficulties that society faces if it wishes to address this problem in organised concerted fashion.? There is, however, a realisation that the draconian legislative measures, that have been, as of today, highly ineffective, being replaced with more suitable measures of tackling the drug issue. As a friend once said, ?education, not incarceration? is the only viable alternative.

Thomas Gallaggher
Llb John Moores University
LLM Liverpool Univeristy

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If You Have Been Arrested, Know Your Rights

September 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Getting Arrested

By Benjamin Netzky

This article is meant to provide general legal information regarding some of the basic constitutional rights of an individual accused of a crime. It is not a substitute for legal counsel. Anyone accused of a crime should immediately consult with a criminal defense lawyer.

Right to Remain Silent

The Fifth and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States guarantee an accused the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself.

In the case Miranda v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court held that a custodial interrogation is inherently coercive and violates a defendant’s privilege against self-incrimination unless the defendant is warned of certain rights. Under Miranda, a criminal defendant must be advised of his or her right to have counsel present in order to counter the inherently coercive atmosphere of custodial interrogation.

Anyone accused of a crime cannot be compelled to answer questions that may be incriminating.

Right to Be Represented by an Attorney

In the case Edwards v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court stated that once a suspect asserts the right to counsel during questioning, not only must the current interrogation cease, but also the defendant may not be approached for further interrogation until counsel has been made available. If police subsequently initiate questioning in the absence of counsel, the defendant’s statements are presumed involuntary and are inadmissible at trial.

Right to Confront Witnesses

The Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause provides that, “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” The United States Supreme Court has held that this bedrock procedural guarantee applies to both federal and state prosecutions.

The right prevents hearsay evidence from being presented against the accused and allows the accused the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses that present testimony at trial.

Right to be Free from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution prohibit the unreasonable search and seizure of persons and property by police or governmental authorities. An accused cannot be arrested or searched without a warrant issued by a magistrate or probable cause showing that the accused has committed a crime.

Right to a Speedy Trial

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”

In the State of Illinois, every person who is being held in custody for an alleged offense shall be tried within 120 days from the date he was taken into custody unless delay is occasioned by the defendant. Every person on bail or recognizance shall be tried within 160 days from the date defendant demands trial unless delay is occasioned by the defendant.

Benjamin Netzky, Esq. is a []criminal defense lawyer with a practice located in Chicago, IL. His practice focuses on representing individuals in cases involving criminal defense, civil rights violations, and employment discrimination.

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DUI And Probation

September 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Probation

By Eddie Tobey

The criminal justice system has gradually shifted its focus from filling prisons to a more compassionate approach, namely rehabilitation. Thus, conditional probation has become an increasingly important aspect of sentencing. In general, the power to suspend a sentence and impose probation is statutorily created, and must, therefore, be exercised in accordance with the statute authorizing it. Depending upon the restrictive nature, some statutes permit the court sole discretion in setting certain conditions of probation, while others specifically restrict the judge to certain conditions.

The most restrictive statutes may require the imposition of certain conditions for certain offenses, require defendants to complete a minimum sentence before being eligible for probation, or simply prohibit granting probation entirely for offenses which prescribe punishment of a certain severity.

When probation is granted, some statutes explicitly authorize the imposition of certain conditions such as restitution, fines, recoupment and incarceration. These conditions have been upheld to deter further offenses and contribute to the defendant’s rehabilitation. Recoupment statutes have withstood arguments that they may operate to deter defendants from exercising their right to counsel, on account they are based on the ability of the defendant to pay. However, where revocation of probation occurs and the defendant is indigent or has made a good-faith effort to pay fines or the costs of rehabilitation programs, courts have held that revocation of the probation violates equal protection.

A Violation of Probation is generally initiated by your probation officer and may result in a warrant for your arrest. The warrant may block your ability to post bond. It is therefore important to consult with an attorney as soon as you learn that a warrant has been issued for your arrest. An attorney may be able to arrange for your surrender and obtain your release on your own recognizance (ROR), or a low bond.

In addition to the explicitly authorized conditions of probation, formulation and imposition of other conditions is often left to the sound discretion of the trial court. These conditions are generally limited only by the requirement that they be reasonably related to the defendant’s rehabilitation. Accordingly, trial courts should be viewed as having wide discretion in imposing these conditions. []San Diego DUI Lawyers provides detailed information on San Diego Alcohol Treatment, San Diego Dui Laws, Driving Under The Influence, Dui And Fines and more. San Diego DUI Lawyers is affiliated with []White Collar Criminal Defense.

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What Are Probation and Parole?

September 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Probation

By Joseph Devine

If you are convicted of a crime but do not seem to be at a high risk of making the same mistake again, the judge may be lenient and put you on probation instead of sending you to prison. Probation is a period of time during which you must live up to a certain standard of behavior. If you fail to meet this standard, you will be expected to serve your full sentence. It is up to the judge or probation officer to determine the length of your probation, the exact guidelines you are to follow and the length of time you will serve if your probation is revoked.

Parole is somewhat similar to probation, except that is it granted to people who have already served part of their prison sentence. When a judge hands down a sentence, it will specify the amount of time the convicted person must spend in prison before they are eligible for parole. For example, a sentence of “twenty years to life” means that the prisoner may apply for parole in twenty years; if it is never granted, they will spend the rest of their life in prison. Parole is offered to prisoners in exchange for exceptionally good behavior and other indications that they will probably not reoffend, such as lining up a permanent residence and employment outside of prison. This offer always comes with strings; once released from prison, a person is expected to follow certain guidelines. If they fail to do so, they can be sent back to prison for the remainder of their original sentence, plus additional time if they commit another crime while out of prison.

Common requirements for people offered one of these options are taking and passing regular drug tests, regular meetings with a probation or parole officer, maintaining employment, and staying within state lines. Additional requirements are sometimes listed, such as sticking to a curfew and not fraternizing with any other convicted criminals. It is up to the PO to decide which and how many guidelines a parolee or person on probation will have to follow. Generally, breaking the law is an automatic violation of the guidelines.

If a person violates one of these rules, they may receive a warning from their PO, or the officer may decide to revoke the person’s parole or probation. If the officer chooses the latter, the person is entitled to a legal hearing to determine if they are truly guilty.

For more information on these and related laws, contact []Milwaukee probation and parole revocation lawyers Kohler & Hart.

Joseph Devine

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