Chart of the day

My wife and I had a conversation yesterday that had her saying, “and that’s why ‘Evangelical Christian’ is pretty much synonymous with hypocrite” these days.  I cannot even remember exactly what we were talking about, but here’s a chart and a little commentary from Drum that made me recall that conversation:

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump calls this a “fascinating detail,” but I call it totally unsurprising:

But, in all fairness, the gospels are just full of Jesus railing against abortion and homosexuality.  Seems like Jesus never had anything to say about helping out the poor, oppressed, etc.

How not to address the opioid crisis

By prosecuting for murder the friends and family who share drugs with overdose victims.  Great feature in the NYT:

HIBBING, Minn. — In West Virginia, a woman woke after a day of drug use to find her girlfriend’s lips blue and her body limp.

In Florida, a man and his girlfriend bought what they thought was heroin. It turned out to be something more potent, fentanyl. She overdosed and died.

In Minnesota, a woman who shared a fentanyl patch with her fiancé woke after an overdose to find he had not survived.

None of these survivors intended to cause a death. In fact, each could easily have been the one who ended up dead. But all were charged with murder.

As overdose deaths mount, prosecutors are increasingly treating them as homicide scenes and looking to hold someone criminally accountable. Using laws devised to go after drug dealers, they are charging friends, partners and siblings. The accused include young people who shared drugs at a party and a son who gave his mother heroin after her pain medication had been cut off. Many are fellow users, themselves struggling with addiction…

Overdose prosecutions, they say, are simply one tool in a box that should include prevention and treatment. But there is no consensus on their purpose. Some believe they will reduce the flow of drugs into their communities, deter drug use or help those with addiction “hit bottom.” To others, the cases are not meant to achieve public policy goals, [emphasis mine] but as a balm for grieving families or punishment for a callous act.

Our criminal justice system is, in fact, designed to achieve public policy goals.  That’s why I am currently teaching Criminal Justice Policy.  Punishing a sibling, partner, etc., who did nothing more than share drugs with an overdose victim is, in fact, the opposite of public policy goals by doing nothing to curb addiction and doubling-down on the least effective means of criminal deterrence– severity.  And the “but somebody’s got to pay” vigilante mindset is why we have laws, prisons, etc., in the first place to address these issues through the legitimate power of the state than through personal and family vigilantism.

Take this prosecutor:

Pete Orput raised a coffee mug that proclaims, “I am a ray of sunshine,” with an expletive embedded therein. A recovering alcoholic, former Marine and now the prosecutor in Washington County outside Minneapolis, Mr. Orput is not given to sugarcoating.

The opioid manufacturers he is suing are “corporate schlockmeisters.” Prosecutors he deems overzealous are “political hacks.” And as to whether overdose prosecutions have had an impact on the street, the answer is simple: “No.”

He has found no reason to believe that such cases deter users or dealers, and says they rarely lead to high-level suppliers.

But Mr. Orput still prosecutes in overdose cases.

Again, just wrong.  No impact on the street.  No deterrence.  Simply an “overzealous” need to find someone to blame.

Of course, this also all speaks to the systematic problem of overzealous, largely unaccountable prosecutors in our criminal justice system.  But that’s for another day.


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