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  1. Alfa
    MAYOR SAYS MARIJUANA PROSECUTIONS A WASTE

    Mayor Richard Daley, a former prosecutor, runs the nation's
    third-largest city with a pragmatic, law-and-order style.

    So when he starts complaining about the colossal waste of time and
    money involved in prosecuting small-time marijuana cases, people take
    notice.

    Daley said late last month that a police sergeant was on to something
    when he suggested that it might be better to impose fines between $250
    and $1,000 for possession of small amounts of marijuana rather than
    prosecute the cases.

    Sgt. Thomas Donegan determined that nearly 7,000 cases involving 2.5
    grams of pot or less were filed last year in Chicago. About 94 percent
    were dismissed.

Comments

  1. Alfa
    CHICAGO MAYOR SPEAKS OUT ON POT LAWS

    CHICAGO -- Mayor Richard Daley, a former prosecutor, runs the
    nation's third-largest city with a pragmatic, law-and-order style. He
    wears his hair short, and you'll never catch him in a Grateful Dead
    T-shirt.

    So when he starts complaining about the colossal waste of time and
    money involved in prosecuting small-time marijuana cases, people take
    notice.

    "This is absolutely a big deal," said Andy Ko, director of the Drug
    Policy Reform Project for the American Civil Liberties Union in
    Washington state. "You've got a mayor in a major American city ...
    coming out in favor of a smart and fair and just drug policy."

    What Daley did was to say late last month that a police sergeant was
    on to something when he suggested that it might be better to impose
    fines between $250 and $1,000 for possession of small amounts of
    marijuana rather than prosecute the cases.

    Sgt. Thomas Donegan determined that nearly 7,000 cases involving 2.5
    grams of pot or less were filed last year in Chicago. About 94% were
    dismissed.

    Daley wondered if ticketing offenders might be smarter. "If 99% of the
    cases are thrown out and we have police officers going (to court to
    testify in the cases), why?" the mayor said. "It costs a lot of money
    for police officers to go to court."

    The way Daley's thoughts became public was also unusual: There was no
    public pressure for the mayor to speak out. He was asked by reporters
    who had gotten wind of Donegan's findings and simply answered their
    questions.

    Police officers are used to spending hours making arrests, writing
    reports and waiting around in court, only to see the charges dropped
    or a guilty plea that leads to nothing more than probation or
    drug-education classes.

    "While officers are doing everything to keep the streets safe, the
    offender gets arrested and is walking the street in just a few hours,"
    Donegan wrote in his report. "To me, this is a slap in the face to the
    officers."

    Both police and defendants know it's rare for anyone arrested for a
    small amount of marijuana to get the maximum penalty in Illinois: 30
    days in jail and a $1,500 fine. Pat Camden, a Chicago police spokesman
    and a former officer, said he couldn't remember a single case.

    Leonardo Nevarez, 23, wasn't worried when an officer found what he
    said was half a joint in his pocket in August. He pretty much knew he
    would be ordered to attend a drug-education class.

    About the only question he had last week when he went to court was
    whether the arresting officer would show up. If he didn't, the case
    would be dismissed.

    "Yeah, I was hoping he wouldn't be there," Nevarez said. "He was
    there."

    Nevarez said he could have sought a delay in the case, as some
    defendants do, in the hopes that the next time the arresting officer
    would be absent. But after talking briefly to a public defender, he
    entered a plea, the judge ordered the class, and Nevarez went home.

    The case had taken up the time of police officers, court clerks, a
    judge and an attorney.

    Chicago wouldn't be the first city to reduce the penalty for
    possessing a small amount of marijuana.

    In Seattle, voters passed an initiative requiring law-enforcement
    officials to make personal-use marijuana cases their lowest priority.
    In California and Oregon, possession of a small amount of marijuana is
    a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 to $500 fine. In Colorado, it
    doesn't even rise to the level of misdemeanor; it's a petty offense
    with a fine of no more than $100.

    Some observers say Daley's statements have added weight because of the
    mayor's background.

    "As a former prosecutor, nobody is going to say he's soft on crime,"
    said Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of
    Illinois at Chicago and a former city alderman.

    Chicago officials are a long way from making permanent changes. Police
    spokesman David Bayless said the department has yet to determine the
    accuracy of Donegan's report, which concludes the city could have
    collected more than $5 million in fines last year.

    Still, Daley's comments alone could have a wide impact.

    "This will make it easier for other officials to say the same thing,"
    Simpson said. "I can imagine mayors in other cities coming out
    agreeing that this shouldn't be treated as a high crime."
  2. Alfa
    CHICAGO MAY TRY TICKETING POT CASES

    CHICAGO - Mayor Richard Daley, a former prosecutor, runs the nation's
    third-largest city with a pragmatic, law-and-order style. He wears
    his hair short, and you'll never catch him in a Grateful Dead T-shirt.
    So when he starts complaining about the colossal waste of time and
    money involved in prosecuting small-time marijuana cases, people take
    notice.

    "This is absolutely a big deal," said Andy Ko, director of the Drug
    Policy Reform Project for the American Civil Liberties Union in
    Washington state. "You've got a mayor in a major American city ...
    coming out in favor of a smart and fair and just drug policy."

    Chicago wouldn't be the first entity to reduce the penalty for
    possessing a small amount of marijuana. In Colorado, it doesn't even
    rise to the level of misdemeanor; it's a petty offense with a fine of
    no more than $100.

    What Daley did was to say late last month that a police sergeant was
    on to something when he suggested that it might be better to impose
    fines between $250 and $1,000 for possession of small amounts of
    marijuana rather than prosecute the cases.

    Sgt. Thomas Donegan determined that nearly 7,000 cases involving 2.5
    grams of pot or less were filed last year in Chicago. About 94 percent
    were dismissed.

    Daley wondered if ticketing offenders might be smarter.

    "If 99 percent of the cases are thrown out, and we have police
    officers going (to court to testify in the cases), why?" the mayor
    said. "It costs a lot of money for police officers to go to court."

    Police officers are used to spending hours making arrests, writing
    reports and waiting around in court, only to see the charges dropped
    or a guilty plea that leads to nothing more than probation or
    drug-education classes.

    "While officers are doing everything to keep the streets safe, the
    offender gets arrested and is walking the street in just a few hours,"
    Donegan wrote in his report.

    Both police and defendants know it's rare for anyone arrested for a small
    amount of marijuana to get the maximum penalty in Illinois: 30 days in jail
    and a $1,500 fine. Pat Camden, a Chicago police spokesman and a former
    officer, said he couldn't remember a single case.
  3. Alfa
    FINE, NOT CONFINE, MARIJUANA USERS?

    Chicago Mayor Says Tickets May Be Better Solution Than Jail Time

    CHICAGO - Mayor Richard Daley, a former prosecutor, runs the nation's
    third-largest city with a pragmatic, law-and-order style. He wears his
    hair short, and you'll never catch him in a Grateful Dead T-shirt.

    So when he starts complaining about the colossal waste of time and
    money involved in prosecuting small-time marijuana cases, people take
    notice.

    "This is absolutely a big deal," said Andy Ko, director of the Drug
    Policy Reform Project for the American Civil Liberties Union in
    Washington state. "You've got a mayor in a major American city ...
    coming out in favor of a smart and fair and just drug policy."

    What Daley did was to say late last month that a police sergeant was
    on to something when he suggested that it might be better to impose
    fines between $250 and $1,000 for possession of small amounts of
    marijuana rather than prosecute the cases.

    Sgt. Thomas Donegan determined that nearly 7,000 cases involving 2.5
    grams of pot or less were filed last year in Chicago. About 94 percent
    were dismissed.

    Daley wondered if ticketing offenders might be smarter. "If 99 percent
    of the cases are thrown out and we have police officers going (to
    court to testify in the cases), why?" the mayor said. "It costs a lot
    of money for police officers to go to court."

    Police officers are used to spending hours making arrests, writing
    reports and waiting around in court, only to see the charges dropped
    or a guilty plea that leads to nothing more than probation or
    drug-education classes.

    "While officers are doing everything to keep the streets safe, the
    offender gets arrested and is walking the street in just a few hours,"
    Donegan wrote in his report. "To me, this is a slap in the face to the
    officers."

    Both police and defendants know it's rare for anyone arrested for a small
    amount of marijuana to get the maximum penalty in Illinois: 30 days in jail
    and a $1,500 fine. Pat Camden, a Chicago police spokesman, said he couldn't
    remember a single case.

    Chicago wouldn't be the first city to reduce the penalty for
    possessing a small amount of marijuana. In Seattle, voters passed an
    initiative requiring law-enforcement officials to make personal-use
    marijuana cases their lowest priority. In California and Oregon,
    possession of a small amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable
    by a $100 to $500 fine. In Colorado, it doesn't even rise to the level
    of misdemeanor; it's a petty offense with a fine of no more than $100.

    Some observers say Daley's statements have added weight because of the
    mayor's background.

    "As a former prosecutor, nobody is going to say he's soft on crime,"
    said Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of
    Illinois at Chicago and a former city alderman.

    Chicago officials are a long way from making permanent changes. Still,
    Daley's comments alone could have a wide impact.

    "This will make it easier for other officials to say the same thing,"
    Simpson said. "I can imagine mayors in other cities coming out
    agreeing that this shouldn't be treated as a high crime."
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