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Riverside County, CA — Simply put, the War on Drugs is a war on people. One of the more despicable ways in which it manifests is the manipulation of vulnerable school kids by undercover cops. These “drug stings,” better known as entrapment, typically prey on special needs students who have a hard time making friends.
The case of Jesse Snodgrass, a student at Chaparral High School with autism, bipolar disorder and social problems, recently gained attention again when a Riverside County Superior Court Judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Jesse’s family against the school district.
“The suit alleged that the Temecula Valley Unified School District had breached its mandatory duties by allowing a deputy from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to manipulate Snodgrass – a friendless student who had bipolar disorder, trouble keeping up with conversations and a history of being bullied – as part of an undercover drug sting.”
The undercover cop, named “Dan,” introduced himself to Jesse on the first day of school and befriended him during graphics art class. After committing this first act of deceit—which itself would violate the moral code of most people—“Dan” gave Jesse $20 and badgered him repeatedly to find a bit of weed.
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Having never come in contact with marijuana before, Jessie had no idea where to find the illegal plant. He was forced to dangerously seek it out on the streets from a homeless man – just so he could appease his ‘friend,’ who would later turn on him and ruin his life.
Weeks later, after Jesse risked his life for his new friend, a swarm of officers arrested him and 21 other students at three high schools, charging them with felonies for possession and sale of a controlled substance.
It’s bad enough that cops would stoop to such lowly means to manufacture arrests in the drug war, but when schools are complicit in this entrapment of its students, the stench of immorality becomes unbearable.
An administrative law judge overturned Jesse’s expulsion from school because the district had left Jesse “to fend for himself, anxious and alone, against an undercover police officer.” The judge also ruled that Jesse “has overwhelmingly demonstrated that his actions were a manifestation of his disability.”
Despite this finding of a fellow judge, the County Superior Judge did not see anything wrong with the school district watching as an undercover cop took advantage of an autistic, bipolar kid, turning him into a felon.
Judge Raquel Marquez said Temecula Valley Unified School District was immune from liability “because they were cooperating with police and because California Government Code 820.2 protects public employees who are making routine policy decisions.”
This shielding of officials sounds an awful lot like the Blue Privilege granted to cops in cases of brutality and murder.
Fortunately, in this case, the power of public outcry was able to overcome the lack of government accountability. With the help of groups such as the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), the tale of Jesse Snodgrass was able to elicit change in the system.
“The Snodgrass lawsuit provided a rare look at the workings of an undercover high school drug sting and launched a barrage of negative publicity about Operation Glasshouse, including a 2014 Rolling Stone magazine piece titled “The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass,” and a video by the Vice Media group titled “The War on Kids.”
In March 2014, the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group, sent a letter to all school districts in Riverside County alerting officials to recent school drug stings, the alleged targeting of special needs students and a California Department of Education investigation into Temecula Valley Unified School District’s process for expelling students in special education.”
As a result of these campaigns, Riverside and San Bernardino counties have stopped school drug stings for the past two years. They follow the Los Angeles Unified School District, which stopped undercover drug stings in 2005 after they were similarly exposed for entrapping defenseless, special needs kids instead of catching actual drug dealers.
While the judge’s ruling against Jesse Snodgrass is unfortunate, there is redemption in the fact that drug stings have stopped at schools in these counties. The campaign of protest, the embarrassment of having their depraved scheme exposed, is more powerful than the myth of so-called government accountability.
The hope is that the Superior Judge’s ruling does not embolden these school districts to take up their war on kids again.
January 04, 2016
Justin Gardner | The Free Thought Project
Undercover Cop Disgracefully Tricks Autistic Student into Selling Weed
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My name is Jason Jones. I'm from Rochester, MN and I'm 35 years old. I scrap metal and work as grounds keeper at a local trailer park. In the winter, I shovel a bunch of driveways and sidewalks to make some extra money and to stay busy. In my free time, I try to find interesting articles about the war on drugs that I can post on Drugs-Forum, so that the information can reach a wider audience.dannydidit... likes this.
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Its amazing how it takes something so over the top like this story to actually get some attention on the problem of how the "law" goes about handling situations similar to this one... I just wonder how many times this sorta thing happens and it goes left unnoticed and continues to happen to people whos lives are ruined by this kind of more common then most people realize sick and awful form of the "law" carrying out their so called duties, so its good to see some light being shined on some of the crazy and down right wrong things that go on all the time by the hands of the very "law" we rely on to protect us and keep justice in our communities... I personally am surprised the poor family of this boy were even able to have made this much of a deal about this situation considering the fact that the "law" never likes to be wrong and they have their way of making sure to keep this kinda thing quiet, I guess they gotta let the lid off one or two every so often so then the public thinks that its being addressed and blah blah blah but in reality if u think about it if this cop and his WHOLE DEPARTMENT would go to this kinda length over Im guessing a decent amount of time taking the kinda measures that were taken to do what was done in this particular situation u can only imagine the way that they must go about carrying on with their daily doings every day 365 days a yr and totally unnoticed by the media and the rest of the people who dont have to find out personally its scary honestly to think that our "law" would do something so low and over time do so its just a little peek in on how they must REALLY go about their biz and to think that their is probably thousands of lives ruined out there that will never see some kind of true justice brought to their lives that the "law" had their way with... My heart goes out to all the people who have had to find out first hand how the "law" likes to handle things when no ones looking and I can only hope that we as the people find some way to bring true justice to our communities and can be safe one day from the very ones were supposed to be able to depend on to protect us but really we live in fear until something happens to put a stop to this reality of how the "law" continues to ruin lives instead of protect them....