Santa Clara County sheriff’s will be equipped with body cameras

All Santa Clara County sheriffs deputies and correctional officers will be outfitted with body worn cameras following a unanimous vote by the board of supervisors.

Supervisor Joe Simitian, who represents Palo Alto and the North County, first proposed the use of the cameras in 2014, after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“We can watch with anguish what’s happened in other communities around the country, shake our heads, and then move on, “Simitian said this week. “Or, we can accept the responsibility to do something. ”

The idea of getting the body worn cameras by jail officers surfaced following the death of an inmate in 2015, according to a release from Simitian.

The cameras can protect the public from officer misconduct, protect officers against false complaints by the public and help restore trust and confidence in police, Samitian said.

A 16 month long study conducted by Rialto showed a more than 50% reduction in the use of force by police officers wearing cameras, and a nearly 90% drop in citizen complaints of police misconduct.

The board of supervisors voted Tuesday to purchase and deploy body worn cameras, and by the end of this year, an estimated 1,142 officers will be outfitted with them, according to Simitian.

The first shipment of cameras will arrive sometime in early February, and from their officers will need to be trained. The cameras will hit the streets in late February or early March. The county is purchasing the cameras from Taser International Inc., which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Other agencies

More law enforcement agencies around the country and in the bay area have been deploying body worn cameras. In Palo Alto, police captain. Zach Perron said, the department will be getting its 10 demo cameras from the company WatchGuard, which could happen as early as next week.

Once the department tests fees and determines whether the cameras meet officers need, Perrone said, the department will equip all officers with body worn cameras. “There is no set time frame, “he said of purchasing cameras for all officers. “Could be a couple of months or longer. ”

All Mountain View police officers have been wearing the cameras for more than a year, said police spokesman Katie Nelson.

Ahead of the pack

And Los Altos started even sooner. The city began a pilot program starting in 2009, and now, all 31 sworn officers where cameras, said police chief Andy Galea.

In San Mateo County, the sheriffs office doesn’t yet have a plan for putting cameras on its 550 sworn officers.

But in November, Redwood city Council approved a plan to equip all of the cities 96 sworn police officers with body worn cameras by December 29, 2017, according to city officials.

Redwood City is just one of the departments in San Mateo County getting cameras for police. In May, San Mateo County County civil grand jury released a report recommending that all police agencies within the county come up with plans for officer worn body cameras.

Accountability

Cameras could make police more accountable and footage could be useful as evidence in court cases, according to the grand jury’s report. San Mateo and Burlingame police are aiming to rule out body cameras by October. Atherton, Belmont, Foster City, Hillsboro and Menlo Park are the five towns and cities in the county that had body worn cameras before the civil grand jury’s report.

For full rendering: Daily Post Article Powered by: Dragon Diction

Raiders Plus Treasure Island Benefits Everyone

The City of Oakland and the County of Alameda should partner with the City and County of San Francisco in building a stadium on Treasure Island for the Oakland Raiders.  The new Stadium would fill the void left by the George Lucas Museum which has departed for Los Angeles.

Treasure Island is already in the midst of a redevelopment so a stadium with more retail and other destination activities, (world class marina, restaurants, more hotels), would be a natural fit to push the economic benefit upwards.  The stadium would provide additional jobs to the people living on the Island in addition to those already maintained by Oakland/Alameda residents.

There are a variety of ways in which a business relationship could be established between the multiple municipalities to make it work.  The only true hurdle that needs to be cleared is the one set by Las Vegas:  $750 million from the City via Hotel Tax and $650 million from Sheldon Adelson totaling $1.4 billion.

An example of a straight forward agreement would be for the City and County of San Francisco to lease the land for a stadium and development project to the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda for 40 years for one dollar, ($1.00), each making Oakland and Alameda co-owners for tax purposes.

During that 40 year span each municipality would split the tax and other revenues generated from the stadium and associated developments proportionally to the amount each entity invests in the project.  And conversely each entity would proportionally share in the operating and maintenance costs of the stadium/development project.

For instance if each entity invested $300 million in the project for a total of $900 million than each entity would be entitled to 1/3 of the tax and other revenue from the project in addition to bearing 1/3 of the operating and maintenance costs associated with the project.

To further help Oakland and Alameda residents, a minimum of one-third of tenants for the housing development would come from current residents of Oakland and Alameda County.

Traffic

Extra exit and entrance lanes can be added to accommodate the increased number of vehicles going to and from the Island.  In a manner similar to the Golden Gate Bridge’s reversible lane traffic barriers could be set up on game days and other large events 2 to 3 hours before and after the scheduled events providing dedicated traffic lanes to and from the Island to facilitate a rapid transit of vehicles.

The bicycle pathway from Oakland to the Island can easily be re-purposed to accommodate electric transport carriers in order to efficiently move a few thousand fans to and from the Island.  (5,000 fans)

Multiple ferries could be used to transport thousands of fans further eliminating vehicles from the roadways.  (5,000 fans)

The renovated marina will enable multiple private parties to use their boats like “Uber/Lyft” to shuttle fans to and from games.  (2,000 fans)

A high speed, high capacity gondola from both San Francisco and Oakland could be incorporated into the project further alleviating traffic congestion.

With multiple hotels located adjacent to the stadium NFL and event staffs will already be on site further reducing traffic congestion.  (1,000 personnel)

Due to the timing of most events there will seldom be any conflict with “rush-hour” traffic; the only exception “Monday/Thursday Night Football.”

At worst you’re looking at 8 to 10 NFL games a year and a variety of other events totaling maybe 30 or 40 times a year many of which will not fill the capacity of a 60,000 seat stadium with a fan capacity bumped up another 10,000 from standing room fares.

Inclement Weather

Creative architecture of the Stadium can ameliorate the problems associated with the bay winds.  Wind breaks in addition to an either a closed, semi-closed or retractable roof stadium would be sufficient to create a pleasant atmosphere under any weather conditions.

Benefits

In order not to encounter the same problem 40 years from now Oakland and Alameda will place a percentage of revenue acquired each year from the project into a specific fund to be used to build a new stadium 40 years hence.

Given the Stadium’s logistical location there will be no doubt that the Raider’s fan base will grow significantly more than what it currently has contrasted with the demise of that base should the Raiders relocate to Las Vegas.  This higher market share will increase t.v. ratings and revenue for the Raiders and the N.F.L. that cannot be achieved from the Las Vegas market.

The Stadium and Hotels on Treasure Island will be a crown jewel for the Bay Area, Oakland and San Francisco enriching all who live here economically and aesthetically.  This would truly be a win for, the Raiders, the N.F.L., Oakland/Alameda and San Francisco.

Nothing could be more befitting than Treasure Island becoming the stronghold port for the Raiders from which to initiate their conquests.  Owner Mark Davis can even moor his yacht adjacent to his new fort.

49ers from Worst to First

If I’m the general manager of the Niners this is an example roster that I would compile in the off season to turn the franchise around in one year rather than wait five years.

On paper this is a top 5 championship caliber defense paired with a productive offense much like the 2015 Denver Broncos and maybe a better offense.

 

 

 

 

The Defense should hold most teams to 17 points or less per game with the Offense putting up 24 points or more per game; this spells wins.

Most of these free agents will be reluctant to come to the Niners however if they see that others will be making the move to the Niners it will be much easier to entice all of them to come aboard..

You want a championship?  Championships cost money.

 

How to Make it Happen

Cap Space is at $83.5 million.

Cut the following players:

QB  Kaepernick which adds another $16.9 million to the Cap.

LB  Brooks which adds another $5.3 million to the Cap.

S   Reid which adds another $5.6 million to the Cap.

CB  Brock which adds another $3.5 million to the Cap.

WR  Ellington which adds another $.8 million to the Cap.

CB  Johnson  which adds another $.7 million to the Cap.

RT  Brown   which adds another $.7 million to the Cap.

S   Bathea    which adds another $5.75 million to the Cap.

That’s $39.25 million added to the Cap bringing the total to $122.75 million.

I trade Aaron Lynch to the Eagles for QB Chase Daniel.  Daniel is a pro who learned behind one the games best in Drew Brees.  The only reason he has not been given a chance to prove himself as a starter is because he is only 6ft. tall.  Russell Wilson is only 5′ 11″ and a successful NFL QB and for that matter so is Drew Brees.

If you stick Daniel on the 2015 Broncos replacing Peyton Manning they still win the Super Bowl.  Eagles’ coach Pederson who brought Daniel to Philly from Kansas City considers Daniel a ‘coach on the field.  It’s time that someone give Daniel a shot at being the starting QB.  Pederson would not deny him the opportunity.

$8 mil. to Daniel reduces the Cap to $114.75.  $.6 mil added to the Cap for Lynch departure brings it to $115.35  Resign Christian Ponder or Shaun Hill to back up Daniel at QB.

Minus $1.35 mil. reduces the Cap to $114

This frees up the Niners to draft the best player available at #2 in the draft for there is not one QB in this year’s draft worth taking a risk on in the first round.

Would you rather have Blake Bortles or Khalil Mack to improve your team?

Would you rather have Blake Bortles or Patrick Willis to improve your team?

Bortles was taken #3 and Mack #5 in the same draft.  This year it is both Kizer and Trubisky at QB representing Bortles and Reuben Foster representing Mack.  The worst thing you could do now as a franchise is to panic by selecting a mediocre QB with a top pick in the draft when you can obtain a perennial pro-bowler.

I trade down in the draft to gain some picks and still get Foster.

Daniel will cost $8 million per year for 2017 and 2018.  Two years for Daniel to prove himself.  With Daniel on board I need to give him a proven wide out to pitch the ball to.  I go after Alshon Jeffery who instantly makes Smith and Kerley better.

Minus 18 mil. to Jeffery brings the cap down to $96 mil.

I sign J.C. tretter to stabilize the center position for $5 mil/per.  Cap now at $91 mil.  Pick up another serviceable RT, Riley Reiff, for $2 to $3 mil.  Cap now at $88 mil.

We now have a solid QB and a Pro-Bowl receiver and a stabilized O-Line.

Pick up DE edge rusher Chandler Jones for $18 mil. per year.  Have to put pressure on opposing QBs.  So in essence Jones represents Jonathan Allen at the 2nd pick which I gave up.  I am now pairing a pro-bowl end with pro-bowl ILB Foster.  Cap now at $70

Bring in two CBs to beef up the secondary:

CB Prince Amukamara at $7 mil. per year and

CB Trumaine Johnson at $14 mil per year.

Cap now at $49 mil.

Now make a pitch to All-Pro S Eric Berry for another $12 mil per year and bring his teammate DT Dontari Poe along for the ride at $13 mil per year.  That leaves $24 mil. for draft picks; to sign a kicker and obtain other needed free agents.  Perhaps I go after another top tier offensive lineman.

Somebody will definitely want to move up to the 2nd pick in the draft to obtain DE Jonathan Allen.  By trading down a few spots in the first round I gain some extra picks and package them together to move up and ensure picking T.J. WattHenderson is this year’s Jalen Richard and could be every bit as effective as a pro as Christian McCaffrey as a change of pace runner while catching passes out of the backfield.  Select Webb in the 5th round or later.  He has the same tools of Kizer and Trubisky just not the polish.  Webb just needs two to three years of grooming.  If Webb is not available then pick up another cheap FA QB and go after one of top QBs in the 2018 draft; next year’s Derek Carr.  If Daniels falters at least he grooms Webb.  If Webb is not the answer then draft a better QB in next years draft as there will be many more available than this year’s.  Taylor Moton will produce more on the field than several O-Lineman selected before him.

Simply put drafting a QB in the first round out of need more often than not does not work out:

Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, EJ Manuel were recent top 16 draft picks and not one has worked out as a franchise QB.

There is the mixed bag of Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin lll, Brandon Weeden and Blake Bortles.

Other notable 1st round flame outs include:

Tim Couch, JaMarcus Russell, Joey Harrington, J.P. Lossman, Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn, Kyle Boller, Vince Young, and Byron Leftwich.  Can you honestly say that Kizer or Trubisky look better than the above did at draft time?

After the 2017 season I bring in Trevor Harris from the Canadian Football League for tryout.  Initially I use Henderson as my returner but I look for another one in the draft to complement that role.

I’m not the GM and I don’t know if Jed York is willing to spend the money but like I said before championships cost money and if York is willing to spend the money this is what I would do if I were the GM or something close to it.

[02/05/17 Update:   True the Patriots came back from a 25 point deficit with 8:35 left in the 3rd quarter of Super Bowl LI.  And I would say Brady deserves the MVP he received.  However Brady does not win the game unless the Patriots’ defense shuts down the Falcons’ offense.  Conversely the Falcons defense could not stop Brady in the 2nd half despite a 25 point lead.  Patriots’ defense won the game just as much as Brady.

Offense is needed but Defense wins championships.

A critical piece of Palo Alto history that should not be forgotten

The criminal case against Palo Alto officers Craig Lee and Michael Kan

May 3, 2005

Dear Mr. George Kennedy & Ms. Karyn Sinunu:

I am writing to you to request that your office retry the criminal case against Palo Alto police officers Michael Kan and Craig Lee. I would like to make some observations and comments regarding the recently completed trial in this matter wherein the jury ultimately hung 8 to 4 for guilty. I would then like to comment on the importance of this case being retried. I hope you will consider all of my comments in the constructive manner in which they are intended.

Comments re the recently completed trial of Defendants Kan & Lee

First I think it is important to acknowledge the fine work performed during the course of all of the proceedings in this matter by Deputy District Attorney Peter Waite. Not only was his preparation and presentation of the case outstanding, but it was apparent that his confidence in the strength of the case grew as the matter proceeded. No doubt the case was not tried without some mistakes and at least one questionable judgment call, but, given all of the many pressures and roles being balanced, it was an outstanding job. By the time the case went to the jury it was my observation/opinion that Mr. Waite had out performed the very talented attorneys for the defendants. (I sat through the entire PX and trial in this matter.)

From the perspective of a former public defender and trial lawyer it was clear to me that Mr. Waite and his investigative team (Sgt. Mike Denson and Sgt. Ron Watson from the PAPD) left few stones unturned in an effort to assure that the prosecution in this matter was both professionally managed and aggressively pursued.

I had no sense during the trial of this matter, despite the obvious political pressures and ramifications for the entire prosecution team, that at anytime that the prosecution team treated this case lightly or in any fashion differently than any other serious felony matter. Finally, Mr. Waite, in an example that more public servants should model, made himself available to members of the public who had endless questions for and observations to share with him.

During the jury selection process in this case Mr. Waite’s questions and the nature of the responses by prospective jurors re the role of race, racial profiling, the right of citizens to be free of undue and unwarranted harassment by the police etc., were both fascinating and instructive re the current public mood towards law enforcement. Had the voir dire process been taped it would have made a provocative documentary on the current status of the relationship between law enforcement and the community. As indicted by the responses during voir dire, as it currently stands, the relationship appears tenuous at best.

There were numerous jurors who expressed just barely restrained anger re the recent killing of Bic Cau Tran by San Jose police officer Chad Marshall and similarly deep concern re other recent high profile killings by members of the SJPD.

What came across strongest from the jury selection process is that both the depth and width of anger and concern over misconduct by law enforcement in this county is much greater than reflected by the mainstream media in Santa Clara County. Whereas the conventional wisdom has been that police cases are hard to successfully prosecute in this county the current dynamically shifting demographics, combined with a well informed citizenry re police misconduct issues, may well have changed the landscape permanently. Given the above, it would appear that police prosecutions are much more like to be successful in this county now and in the future.

During the course of the jury selection the defense exercised a peremptory challenge against the one black female who made it into the jury box. Given the quality of her responses to the questions posed by attorneys for both sides it was clear that this prospective juror was totally free of bias for either side.

Despite the fact that Mr. Waite made an appropriate Batson/Wheeler objection that the defense, specifically attorney Harry Stern, had exercised the challenge in a in a racially discriminatory fashion the judge, Andrea Bryan, declined to ask defense council for a showing of specific bias (to establish a race–neutral reasons for the strike) or to find a prima facie case for requiring a response by the defense. The judge should have reseated the juror in the presence of the entire panel as a clear message to the defense that the racist removal of a fair minded juror would not be tolerated. (Case law clearly supports the notion that one race based peremptory challenge is sufficient to trigger the remedies contemplated by Batson/Wheeler and its descendants.)

Given that only three African-Americans were in the initial jury panel of approximately 160 perspective jurors called for in this case, there is little doubt that the discriminatory strike of the one black female to make it into the jury box denied the people a jury made up of a cross-section of the community and thus a fair trial.

The following quotes serve as a reminder of the impact of a discriminatory challenge based on race in the context of this case: … “The harm from discriminatory jury selection extends beyond that inflicted on the defendant and the excluded juror to touch the entire community.” Batson V. Kentucky, 476 U.S, at 77 (1986).

“The need for public confidence is especially high in cases involving race-related crimes. In such cases, emotions in the affected community will inevitably be heated and volatile. Public confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system is essential for preserving community peace in trials involving race related crimes.” (Citations omitted). Finally, as to Judge Bryan’s role in denying the community a fair trial the following is pertinent: “Be it at the hands of the state or the defense, if a court allows the juror to be excluded because of group bias, it is a willing participant in a scheme that could only undermine the very foundation of our system of justice—our citizens’ ” (citations omitted).

In addition to the failure of Judge Andrea Bryan to perform her constitutional responsibility to ensure the selection of a fair jury in this matter it was apparent that the court allowed the atmosphere surrounding the trial to favor the defense. Not only did the court appear to bend over backwards to rule in favor of the defense on issues where you would normally not expect such favorable rulings, but the court personnel, including the bailiffs, routinely acted with favoritism to members of law enforcement. This included providing preferential seating in the courtroom to members of law enforcement, to allowing outbursts by law enforcement spectators to go unpunished while, at the same time, closely monitoring the conduct of non-law enforcement citizens in the courtroom to the point of a constitutional chill on access.

Despite all of the efforts by the court and its personnel to tamper with the jury selection, evidentiary rulings, deny equal access to the courtroom to the public versus members of law enforcement, all in a thinly veiled attempt to direct a verdict of acquittal, 8 members of the community still rendered a verdict of guilty refusing, in the greatest tradition of independent jurors, to buckle under the weight of the intimidating atmosphere allowed to exist by Judge Andrea Bryan. All of this speaks volumes re the strength of the evidence in this case and the fine job done by the prosecution team.

Despite the fact that only 8 of the 12 jurors in this case voted for guilty the verdict was still one of historic proportions in Santa Clara County. I know of no other case in recent Santa Clara County history where 8 jurors have voted to convict police officers for the beating of an African-American citizen. This result calls out for a retrial.

Conclusion re why case should be retried.

Community sentiment: I have enclosed an editorial from the Palo Alto Daily News, Accused officers should be retried, April 20, 2005, outlining some of the reasons why this case should be retried and encouraging your office to do so, both in the interest of the Palo Alto Police Department and the Community at large.

Given the statements attributed to Karyn Sinunu in the San Jose Mercury News (enclosed), (April 19, 2005), that the district attorney usually retries hung juries and given that in this case 8 citizens voted for guilty under the difficult conditions described in the first section of this letter, failure to do so in this case would feed into the perception that there is two standards of justice in this community, one for the ordinary citizen and one for police officers.

Given comments in a recent article in The Recorder, April 27, 2005, that there will be a chase for endorsements by police and law enforcement groups by the presumed candidates for District Attorney in 2006, and given Ms. Sinunu’s apparent intent to run for this position, failure to retry this case might well be seen as decision based on political expediency rather than the merits of retying this case.

It is clear that this case would likely not have come to light but for the courageous act of a few “whistle blowing” members of the PAPD willing to break down the traditional “code of silence” that so perniciously permeates much of law enforcement in this community. By the jury’s verdict in this case the community has spoken: it is time, once and for all, to send the message that the so-called “code of silence” will not longer be tolerated by those we entrust with the awesome power of the badge. Failure to retry this case would discourage officers in the future to speak out against rogue officers in their ranks and, as result, put the public at risk of more unwarranted beatings and deaths.

Given all of the above, the strength of the evidence presented in the first trial, the resources and efforts expended by the prosecution, the strong likelihood of a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt at a second trial, the efforts of the trial judge to sabotage the prosecution’s case in the first trial, and the strong public support for a retrial in this matter it is my request that you exercise your prosecutorial discretion in favor of a retrial in this case.

Post Script:

This letter requesting a retrial of Kan & Lee was originally sent out on May 3, 2005. Ultimately the DA declined to retry the case against officers Kan & Lee. In a miscarriage of justice Kan & Lee were allowed to plead guilty to one count each of disturbing the peace, as an infraction, with a maximum punishment of a $250 fine.

Benny King and the criminalization of addiction in America

Benny King is a gregarious, good-hearted, God-fearing 53-year-old black man from Alabama who shouldn’t be in prison.

But he is.

Mr. King is serving 14-months at the federal correctional institution in Jesup, Georgia, for violating conditions of his supervised release; conditions ordered as part of King’s sentence over eleven years ago, in 2005, for bank fraud. Mr. King’s underlying conduct in that nonviolent, low-level federal criminal case (involving stolen checks) bears no relation to his current incarceration other than the fact that, it too, like the entirety of King’s nonviolent criminal history, was a byproduct of decades-long untreated drug addiction.

You see, just like hundreds of thousands of poor, disproportionately black and brown Americans sidelined from American life – stuffed out of sight in state and federal penal institutions across the U.S. – King is serving time for one, and only one, unconscionable reason: he suffers from a substance abuse problem. He drinks.

Mr. King started drinking when he was just twelve years old and the problem got worse at age 14 when his mother died; it became still worse, a bare three years later, when his father passed too. Poverty, tragedy, and alcohol abuse are a multi-generational scourge in the King family.

And for Benny King, as with many alcoholics, when the alcohol flows, other substances quickly join stream; marijuana, cocaine, whatever’s around. As anyone who has battled drug addiction knows (or equally, has had a friend or loved one fight that hellacious war), once the substance-spigot starts its drip, the situation often spirals, becoming impossible – without effective, often repeated, long-term inpatient drug treatment – to stop.

That’s why what happened this past November 16 in a courtroom in Montgomery, Alabama – when Senior U.S. District Judge W. Harold Albritton III threw the proverbial book at Mr. King because he relapsed, using alcohol and drugs in the wake of his sister’s death –– should outrage every American who cares about reducing our abominably bloated prison population.

Using an official transcript for reference, here is an abbreviated version of the proceedings:

Judge Albritton: Mr. King, you are charged with two violations. It’s alleged that you violated the special condition that required you to participate in a program for substance abuse. You violated that term of your supervision by showing up at Herring House, where you were to be given treatment, and they would not admit you because you had been drinking alcohol. The second violation is a charge that you violated the standard condition that you refrain from excessive use of alcohol or any controlled substance.

Assistant Federal Defender Donnie W. Bethel: I have a few things I would like to say, Your Honor. Mr. King was arrested on a Thursday. The following Saturday, his sister passed away from cancer. It was an older sister, 12 years his senior. It was a sister who, after his mother died when Mr. King was a boy, had essentially been his surrogate mother. We were back in court on a preliminary hearing that following week, and at that point I asked for him to be released on bond so he could attend his sister’s funeral. That was vehemently opposed by the prosecution, by probation, by the United States Marshal Service, which I am still befuddled by. I know what it’s like to lose a sibling. I was really taken aback that there’s such a lack of basic Christian compassion in the criminal justice system, that we would do everything we could to deny a man simply the opportunity to attend his sister’s funeral.

I convinced Judge Moore to release him to my custody. Everybody was thrilled that Mr. King was able to attend the funeral. At the funeral, he played the piano and he sang. He’s actually a talented musician. And before I left that day, every member of his family made a point in coming to me and thanking me for taking the time out of my weekend to bring Mr. King up there to attend his sister’s funeral. And I say that only to make this point. This isn’t a violation that involves Mr. King out on the street with a gun; Mr. King selling dope; Mr. King committing some other crime, burglary, theft of property. Mr. King has a drug problem. Mr. King knows he has a drug problem. That’s what this case is about.

He would like another opportunity to go to the Herring House to get some drug treatment, because that’s what he needs. And I think we’ve become so callous, so used to in the federal criminal justice system to shipping people off to prison, that nobody would bat an eye if, for having a drink and getting high, we’re going to send Benny King off to prison for 14 months. I think we need to step back and say, let’s stop doing the easy thing, and let’s do the right thing.

Mr. King, tell the judge what your plan is after you’re released.

Mr. King: My plan is to go to Florida, be with my fiancée, get married. I’ve already started the process of enrolling for a GED to get my diploma. And I’m going to take some college courses at night. I’m going to work doing paving and construction, and also I’m working for a church called New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Ft. Myers, Florida.

I violated, Your Honor. And I know you can’t overlook that, and I don’t expect you to. But I was – when I left and went home and saw my sister. And she was fading away, and I just – which was no excuse, but I used that as an excuse to drink. And when I drink, I get high. I violated, and I apologize, and I ask the mercy of the Court. But I’m just going to be honest with everybody. I’m tired. Benny King is tired today. I’m tired. I’m not trying to pacify nobody ears.

Mr. Bethel: He’s 52 years old. Give him another chance. Let him go to the Herring House. He’s clean now. He’s not going to be positive when he shows up down there this time. Let’s get him straightened out. Let’s just do what we were planning to do a month ago.

Assistant United States Attorney Curtis Ivy, Jr.: So coming forward now with all these great plans and ideas is an easy thing, but it’s not going to work. What’s proper in this case is 14 months’ imprisonment with no supervised release to follow.

Mr. Bethel: Anybody who thinks that it’s easy for a drug addict not to use drugs has never had someone close to them who’s been a drug addict. I have. It’s not easy. No matter what you do to help them, no matter how much they go through, it is the most difficult thing I’ve ever seen in my life for someone to overcome a drug addiction. And that’s what we’re talking about. Talking about criminalizing this case, drug addiction.

Judge Albritton: Under the law, being a drug addict is not a defense. In this case, Mr. King has been given more than one opportunity to try to get himself straightened out. I’m sympathetic with you – and I’m sorry about your sister’s death. This time I’m going to sentence you to the maximum under the sentencing guidelines of 14 months, with no supervised release to follow. You’ll be on your own after that. The court system and the probation office and everybody has done all they can to help you break your habit.

Just a day after Benny King was “maxed out” by Judge Albritton in Alabama, The Washington Post’s Lenny Bernstein wrote about a new “landmark” report authored by the U.S. Surgeon General calling the drug crisis ‘a moral test’ for America.” Distressingly, the report noted that, “[i]n 2015, substance abuse disorders affected 20.8 million people in the U.S., as many as those with diabetes, and 1 ½ times as many as those with cancer. Yet, only one in ten receives treatment.”

Echoing Benny King’s defense counsel, the Surgeon General said: “We would never tolerate a situation where only one in 10 people with cancer or diabetes gets treatment, and yet we do that with substance abuse disorders. Regardless of persistent beliefs, addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing.”

And then, just a month after Benny King began his newly imposed $31,000+ taxpayer-funded prison term – over four hours away by car from his fiancée and family– a rigorous, scholarly study by the Brennan Center for Justice convincingly demonstrated that 39% of prisoners in the U.S. should not be in prison. Specifically, the study found (1) that “39% of the nationwide prison population (576,000 people) is behind bars with little public safety rationale,” and (2) “25% of prisoners (364,000 people), almost all non-violent, lower-level offenders, would be better served by alternatives to incarceration such as treatment, community service, or probation.”

Benny King is one of these sad, sad, stories in the sea of the overly incarcerated.

Writing about another equally sad case with many parallels to Benny King, Tamra Ryan, CEO of the Women’s Bean Project, wrote: “Jessie is now back in prison and we are unlikely to hear from her again. While she may not have access to drugs in prison, she will also likely not receive drug treatment. Instead, she will do her time and, at some point, start over again without addressing the underlying issues that led to her relapse. Jessie’s addiction and inability to cope with stressors have been criminalized.” Ryan concluded “the time has come to address the underlying issue of addiction with treatment, not punishment, so that the potential of the individual is not wasted.”

Exactly.

We don’t need more drug addicted people like Benny King or “Jessie” filling up this nation’s jails and prisons. They’re already overly full. We’ve got to start moving in the other direction. Now.