Weediquette S1E03 – “The War on Weed” Discussion Board Worksheet
SOC 101 – Trident Technical College
For this assignment, you must do the following:
-View the television show episode Weediquette S1E03 – “The War on Weed,” and select at least ten (10) of the following prompts to answer in the worksheet below. There are no specifically required questions for this assignment, just pick any ten.
-Copy the questions and your answers in this worksheet into a new thread on the Weediquette Film Discussion Board in our D2L course shell. Delete any unanswered questions, but leave them in the order they appear.
-Give your thread an awesome title that captures the essence of your complete response (in other words, give it the awesome title only after you’ve completed the assignment).
-After posting your responses you will be able to see a thread of additional information I have provided, which you must review before posting other students’ responses as well. You are expected to chime in to at least 2 other students’ posts with questions or comments of a helpful and sociological nature for the class to discuss.
Good luck and Happy Debating! Prof. Fish
- Should a non-violent, non-distributer drug possession arrest (that is, possessing an amount of illegal drugs for personal use only; aka a “user/possible addict/possible victim” as opposed to a “dealer”) be considered a felony or result in prison sentences in general? For marijuana in particular? For other illegal drugs? Should Bernard Noble be serving 13 years for 2.8 grams (2 joints) of marijuana possession? If not, why not? If so, why? Explain your answers.Student Response:
- “Multi-Billing” or “Three Strikes Laws” disproportionately target the poor and minorities. They are also mostly attached to street crime (as opposed to “white collar” crimes like embezzlement, fraud, tax evasion, internet piracy, etc.). Again, street crime law enforcement mostly targets the poor and minority persons. Is multi-billing a form of institutional racism and/or classism? Why or why not? Explain.Student Response:
3. Refer to the Social Conflict Perspective of Crime and Deviance in your text to answer this prompt. Why do you think that street crime is primarily the target of multi-billing, instead of crimes like embezzlement or tax fraud, which tend to objectively do much more harm to society and indirectly cause more people to suffer and often die (loss of insurance, home, savings and investments, suicide, etc.)?
For example, an armed robbery stealing $300 from a convenience store with no physical harm averages a five-year prison sentence whereas multi-million dollar theft from a corporate holding by a CEO rarely, if ever, sees the perpetrator imprisoned; but employees lose their jobs and pensions, millions of dollars in taxes go unpaid, investors and stockholders lose their investments, etc.
- One argument against multi-billing and mandatory minimum sentencing in general isthat it takes discretion away from judges in assigning sentences appropriate to the circumstances of the crime. Which is more important in deciding sentencing for an offender – a judge’s discretion based upon the circumstances of each case, or the legislature’s decision to assign sentences to certain crimes irrespective of the circumstances? Why do you feel this way? If you were convicted of a felony and headed to prison, would you want the judge in your case to sentence you, or legislators whom you have never met before? Explain your answer.Student Response:
- We saw the discussion of politics involving the New Orleans District Attorney bringing Bernard Noble’s case back to court 4 times to get his sentence increased. What do you think was his motive here? How does the pressure to convict and prosecute harshly play a role in re-election? How might this problem be compounded in Louisiana and some other states that repeatedly re-elect judges like politicians instead of appointing them for life (like most states and all federal judges and Supreme Court Justices)? What might happen if an elected judge handed down legal-but- unpopular decision in court? If you were charged with a felony, would you prefer an elected judge or an appointed judge deciding your future? Why?Student Response:
- The New Orleans Police Department has a long, notorious history as one of the most corrupt police departments in the US. Note also that neither NOPD nor the New Orleans DA’s office would participate in the filming, so the filmmakers had to interview police officers in rural parishes (counties) instead.In 2008 (when I lived there), the US Dept. of Justice investigated the NOPD and nearly one-third of the top-ranking supervisory officers were fired, arrested/imprisoned, and — in at least one case — committed suicide with his service weapon to avoid justice. The vast majority of the disgraced officers were high-ranking, well-paid, long-serving white males. This US DOJ investigation was opened because two patrol officers and their sergeant had been ordered to cover up their 2nd degree murder of an unarmed African American male by their supervisors during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.The show suggests that there is a systemic racism prevalent in the NOPD supporting a long-established framework of racial discrimination against New Orleans’ majority African American population. Beginning in the 2010s, more-recent developments documenting many high-profile police-initiated shooting deaths of unarmed US citizens, often minorities. How do you feel about the show’s argument in this light? Is NOPD discriminating against African Americans in particular? Why do you feel this way? Does poverty, culture, and/or class differences between police and population play a factor here? If so, how? If not, why not? Explain your answers.Student Response:
- Do you think the “War on Drugs” has been successful? Why or why not? The show argues that police departments across the country are improperly incentivized (think about Freakonomics and its core argument about incentives) to make as many drug arrests as possible because more arrests results in more money from Federal funding being poured into those departments and more still being paid to house the convicted after arrest. Does this drive to increase arrests, thereby increasing police funding serve or subvert the US Criminal Justice System in general and drug enforcement in particular? Explain your answers.Student Response:
- Even though marijuana use and selling/dealing is fairly evenly spread across whites and African Americans in the US, African Americans are between 4 and 8 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession (higher in certain areas). Why do you
suppose this is? How might certain social factors like residential segregation, police patrol routes, taxation, voting disparities, etc. play a factor here? Is the “War on Drugs” inherently racist, or is something else going on here? Again, are class, culture, income, etc. other unconsidered factors? Explain your answers.
- Sociology has developed a concept called the “Law Enforcement Industrial Complex” referring to businesses that profit from tax dollars and the seizure of funds/property being spent on those businesses (e.g. firearms manufacturers, police car manufacturers, private police training companies, jail and prison builders, security firms, law firms, PACs supporting DA/judges re-elections, etc.). What role do you think these for-profit businesses play in drug enforcement in general? In lobbying and legislation? In election campaigns? Others? Explain your answers. Should this be allowed in the administration of Justice? Why or why not?Student Response:
- The “Law Enforcement Industrial Complex” is strongly indicted for the incarceration of inmates in so-called “warehouses for people” that are parish (county) jails, as opposed to state or Federal prisons. In county jails – which are intended to house prisoners for less than one year serving sentences for misdemeanor convictions or while awaiting trial – resources like education, healthcare, food quality, exercise, etc. are allowed to be reduced or cut out entirely, further reducing costs and putting more money in the hands of Law Enforcement to aid in further arrests, imprisonment, etc., thus perpetuating a cycle of arrests-for-profit in government, which isn’t supposed to be for-profit. Additionally, the United State imprisons far more people than any other country on Earth, including: India which has a far higher population, Russia which our government repeatedly (and accurately) vilifies as authoritarian and undemocratic, or even China which has the highest population in the world and is regularly demonized as a repressive, undemocratic state.Why do you think the US has a more repressive Criminal Justice system than less- developed, poorer, more repressive, and more populous countries? What about our far higher number of prisons, jails, and prisoners? Is the US practice of “human warehousing” humane? Is justice being served in these cases? In this country? Is rehabilitation even possible under these circumstances? How do high incarceration rates and lengthy sentences in these warehouses play into felons’ 67% recidivism (felony reoffending) rate in this country? How do you feel about your taxes paying for
all of this? Explain your answers.
11. How would you suggest that we as a country deal with non-violent drug offending general and marijuana in particular? If you could change this country’s drug enforcement policies, what would you change and why? What might you keep the same? Why? Which currently illegal drugs in South Carolina and/or nationally do you believe should be decriminalized, if any? Medically legalized? Recreationally legalized? Why do you believe this? Should any currently legal recreational drugs be criminalized, like tobacco or alcohol (or caffeine)? Why or why not? Explain in your answers in detail.
Epilogue: In 2018, Bernard Noble was finally released from a parish jail on parole. In 2021, Louisiana passed a new law declaring non-felony drug offenses immune to multi-billing and removed personal (“non-dealer”) amounts of marijuana (>8 grams) as “arrestable offenses,” resulting in only a ticket being issued for violations. Under these changes, Bernard Noble would never have even been arrested for his “crime.”
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After your submission, you will be able to see a brief lesson that I have pinned to the top of this discussion board talking about the history of Drugs in Media. Substantive, thoughtful comments and discussion on this post are worth up to 5 bonus points on this assignment. Good luck!