Thursday, 24 February 2011

Diary: Injustice, Hillary Clinton and Getting Ripped Off!

Trust Me!!!
Ripped Off!
Although I might vigorously fight against the junkie image portrayed by the media and an ignorant public, I am realistic enough to accept that many druggies are still dirtbags. Many addicts are desperate and will take advantage of a situation that most people would not. But I need to emphasise that without their addiction, they may well act like any other person off the street. The fact is that there’s no hell on earth that offers as much excruciating pain and sheer terror as heroin or opiate withdrawals. Trying to avoid this agony will drive most junkies to do something they don’t want to.

So, why did I trust some unknown druggy with $150 to score for me? Knowing how desperate some druggies are should have kept me from putting too much trust into someone I didn’t know, especially when it comes to money. So, of course I got ripped off and now have nothing to show for it. Yes, I’m an idiot and yes, I should have gone with him and yes, I should have checked his mobile phone number wasn’t disconnected and yes, I should have written down his car rego and yes, I should have held something of value until he returned and yes… blah blah blah.

I’m writing this because I’m so pissed off for not taking the time to careful. I can live with the loss of $150 but it’s embarrassing that I acted so desperately when I saw a chance to finally score some speed. He has obviously done this before and must have thought he was dreaming when some stranger asked him if he could score. Just imagine what he thought when I offered him $50 just to do it! 

But the most annoying aspect of all this is hindsight. Like those inconsistencies that become apparent after the fact. For example, he said it was $350 for 3 grams but when I asked if there was a smaller quantity available, he told me it was $100 per gram. The maths should have set off alarm bells. And when I offered him $50 for his trouble, he turned it down. Why would he go to all that effort to score for a stranger … for free? I should have noticed the urgency as well.

Once again, I have learnt a valuable life lesson but will my resolve to be less trusting of druggies fade over time? It’s true that addicts are hard done by when it comes to the stereotyped image that society has given them but the anger and embarrassment from being ripped off by one of them nearly stops me even caring … until I realise I’m one of them!

Yes, I am a druggy as well. I was the one who was looking to score and I initiated the first contact. The difference though, is that I wasn’t looking to cheat someone through deceit. I was merely wanting to purchase something that made me happy. I was willing to pay for it with money I earned and even offered $50 to the shyster for 20 minutes work. But like every group of people, there are always some who are trash. Some who will rob you blind and have no respect for anyone except themselves. Addiction is a curse that will drive some desperate people to desperate measures but this guy is simply one of those lowlifes that infest every collection of people we put a tag on.

Hillary Clinton and THAT Comment
On a lighter note, Hillary Clinton has been nominated for the Silliest Comment of the Year award. 

BE WARNED: You might need to sit down for this one. 

Whilst in Mexico, Hillary was being interviewed for a local TV news show. The reporter asked for her opinion about the latest suggestion from some politicians that legalising drugs might turn around the drug war in Mexico. Hillary responded:

I don't think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate. I hear it in my country. It is not likely to work … There is just too much money in it.

Well, that’s a new angle.

Hillary continued:

and I don't think that – you can legalise small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped. They can’t be given an even easier road to take, because they will then find it in their interest to addict even more young people. Mexico didn’t have much of a drug problem before the last 10 years, and you want to keep it that way. So you don’t want to give any excuse to the drug traffickers to be able legally to addict young people.

There you go. Words of wisdom from one of the most powerful people on the planet. 

Is anyone worried that this person is one of the key decision makers for a country that enforces their local drug policy on the entire world? How the US manage their drug policy affects hundreds of millions of people from every country but one of it’s most powerful leaders can’t comprehend a simple yet fundamental economic principle. The premise of any prohibition driving up prices is universally understood so why would the US Secretary of State be so clueless? Whether Hillary is genuinely a bit thick on real world situations or was trying to spin her way out of a tricky question, it seems that as usual and regardless of context, any mention of drugs and all common sense, logic and reason fly out the window.

Harm Minimisation Coming to New Jersey - Only 20 years Too Late
Sometimes it's hard to believe it's 2011.

From the New Jersey News:

Bill To Permit The Sale Of Syringes Without A Prescription Advances

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by state Sen. Joseph F. Vitale to allow pharmacies in New Jersey to sell hypodermic syringes and needles without a prescription was approved by the Senate Thursday by a vote of 28-12.

Yep, after decades of lobbying by numerous health organisations and with rates of HIV/AIDS amongst intravenous drug users topping out over 1000% higher than Australia, New Jersey is attempting to legalise syringes. Not marijuana or ecstasy or even heroin but syringes.

It’s definitely goods news and long overdue but how could New Jersey be so out of touch with reality? It’s a real brain bender that this law existed for so long while mountains of research and evidence - clearly showing that access to clean injecting equipment saved lives and money - kept landing on the desks of law makers. What about the thousands of deaths that were racked up from blood borne diseases while complacent politicians and holier-than-thou anti-drug nutters congratulated themselves for “not sending the wrong message”. Being charged for possession of a syringe without a prescription is just absurd but then I’m used to Australia’s pragmatic approach and successful harm minimisation programs. I can’t help but wonder though - if they were so freaked out over syringes, imagine what they thought when someone suggested a needle exchange program?!

Dropping this law is a no-brainer and I’m sure most people agree. But look again at the votes. Did you notice that 12 senators want to retain the current law? WTF is that about? How much evidence do they need? How many drug users have to contract HIV/AIDS or Hep C before they change their mind? Don’t they feel foolish being a minority when the issue being voted on involves saving lives? In 2011, there is no excuse for voting against this bill. Those that did, should be made to explain their reasoning and if they roll out the usual "War on Drugs" rhetoric, then they should be put in a time machine and sent back to the 1980s.

Bernie Finn Feedback
Talking about out-of-date politicians, I have received quite a bit of feedback about the Bernie Finn article. If you remember, I questioned Finn’s support of the death penalty especially for drug dealing. After I posted the article, I sent off several email to politicians in the western suburbs of Melbourne. I noticed from my web logs that nearly every email recipient then went on to read my article with several emailing me back. Surprisingly, every email I received supported my views with some politicians even making a point to tell me that they completely opposed Finn’s warped ideology.  I just wish they would be more vocal in public while they have the power to make a difference.

And on a final note, I received an email from Gary Toca, the young man at the centre of the Justice is a Joke article. Gary was cruelly sentenced to 10 years jail for supplying the heroin that killed his friend, Pierce Sharai. He wasn’t a drug dealer but was simply the one chosen out of a group of friends to make the purchase. As I said in the original article, Gary’s sentence is cruel and unjust yet typical of how desperate some opportunists have become to jail drug offenders. They weren’t dealing with some violent punk with a long rap sheet but an honours student with no criminal background. Although Gary was helping police, it seems that when they couldn’t find the drug dealer, they turned their attention to an easier target … Gary himself. Is this one of the worst cases of injustice you have ever read about?

Here’s Gary’s first email (with his permission):

Hey Terry, 
This is Gary Toca, the person who was sentenced to 10 year's for his friend's overdose.  I am currently on bond and have to report to Beaumont, Texas on February 17 to begin my jail term.    

I really appreciate the article you wrote.  

This has been a very difficult time for me, but I am thankful for anyone who expresses concern for my case or for harsh drug laws in general. Your article speaks truth on many levels.  

People like you are needed in the US and abroad, in order to raise awareness about the draconian sentencing that is rendered upon those involved with drugs; as well as, the over sentencing that occurs due to politicians primarily being concerned with the advancement of their careers. Another serious problem with the justice system in the US is the FBI, DEA, and other agencies. They can be vindictive and tyrannical; a far cry from the way the public perceives them to be.  

If you have any questions about me or my case, I will be glad to answer them. It's good to know that you believe that drug users should be treated as people with medical problems, and not criminals. 

Thanks, Gary Toca

Gary’s second email

Hello again,

Yes, this incident has been devastating for me. When I first was informed that I would probably receive around a 10 year sentence, I was completely despondent and felt suicidal most days.  I can't really describe how depressed I was. Knowing that I would be much older when I got out was what really had me down.

They do have good time in the Federal system (you have to serve 85% of your sentence), along with a drug program which takes a year off of your sentence and guarantees you 6 months in a halfway house if you qualify for it. Assuming that I earn all of my good time credit and get into the drug program, I should spend about 7 years in there and get out when I am 30.  

Someone who has changed my outlook on this though, is my mentor, Hakim Kashif. He spent around 16 1/2 years in federal prison for distributing cocaine.  He changed the way I think about being in prison by getting me to think positively and to focus on the things I can do to better myself while I am there. He has helped me to have hope again. While it can still be very difficult for me at times, I try to keep in mind that I can still have a good life when I get out and can be in better shape physically and mentally than I ever would have been had this not happened to me.  

As far as my case is concerned, I will not be able to appeal, since I plead guilty and there were no breaches of my plea agreement. The only thing that could reduce my sentence is a change in the legislature.  Such a thing seems unlikely at this point, so I don't plan on holding my breath.  

I could go on for days about the problems with US Federal justice system in how they handled my case, along with thousands of other drug offenders, but I will have to save that for another e-mail.


PS - I would not mind you posting any of my e-mails on your site.  

I can’t help but feel devastated about this story. Gary Toca seems to be a decent, intelligent human being who has had his life shattered by some shit stain wanting to further their career. I hope that person is happy with their handy work. I also hope that person is run over by a truck.


Gledwood said...

America has such a weird attitude to drugs. It's there that they go for that punitive approach. As if being an addict isn't bad enough, just make it worse and give an addict yet more reasons to turn to good old yummy heroin to ease the pain.

As for getting ripped off: as you say Hindsight ~ greatest teacher of them all!

John said...

Giving a stranger dough for drugs is a pretty muggy thing to do, especially for a veteran!

That 10 year sentence is crazy - the US have got no idea, but are world leaders. Truly a case of the lunatics taking over the asylum.

Anonymous said...

Gary, you are in peoples thoughts. not that that will make much of a difference... if only u were a celebrity or lied to the police. played the system, because if u were rewarded with 10years for what you did, they certainly played you...

Anonymous said...

Every dealer tells me "this stuff is good". For once I'd like them to say "you know, this is average gear, plus I've jumped on it, and it is under-size".

I'm used to scoring on the streets of Footscray. I have been ripped off a number of times. I have been given chalk, aspro and once just nothing. After getting ripped off two days in a row I will now never buy from someone I don't know. I'll still get told "this stuff is great" when it is not, but at least I am not paying $100 for a headache tablet.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks for your responses.

Yes John, being ripped off was embarrassing. And I feel for you Anon, being ripped off twice in a row. Doesn't it make you angry! I can't help but devise nasty schemes to get revenge but then it all fades away ... until next time.

Gleds, you are so right about the US. I just read about several US states who are reducing sentences for non violent drug crimes as they are finally realising that sending low level dealers and users to prison is futile.

But some meatheads disagree saying that we need to keep sending a strong message to drug users.

"You need to have serious consequences or repercussions in place if people use heroin, Oxycontin"


"Crime will go up in five to 10 years and people will wonder why. It's because we are letting too many people out of prison."

How ironic that these 2 groups(National District Attorneys Association and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council) both represent lawyers who make their living from defending drug users and as states bring in drug courts, they lose business!
Article here

Thanks to everyone who mentioned Gary Toca's plight. I'm sure he would be appreciative.