Tweeting Senators Caught Talking About Drugs on Twitter

Tweeting Senators Caught Talking About Drugs on Twitter

I have to admit “smart politics” isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when I hear about a pair of tweeting senators, but our guy Paul sure knows how to re-write the rules. The “country-punk rock conservative” was caught reaching out to the “neoliberal urbanist” Cory Booker (D-NJ) last month over drug law reform. Okay, so maybe it started out as a complaint over retweets.

 

 

Could this be the start of a savvy partnership? Most Democrats and Republicans avoid meaningful conversation with each other like it’s a contagious disease. Twitter isn’t exactly the best backdrop for serious discussion but, hey, it’s on an issue of significance: drug law reform.

Mandatory sentencing minimums for non-violent drug crimes has frequently been used as a ‘sledgehammer’ in the so-called War on Drugs. The required punishment in a majority of cases going far and beyond the crime that will have people, primarily minorities, spending the rest of their lives in prison. It’s undermining the right to a fair trial as one judge from New York emphasizes:

[Federal Judge John Gleeson], who is neither naive nor sentimental (as a prosecutor, he sent mobster John Gotti to die in a supermax prison), knows that most defendants who plead guilty are guilty. He is, however, dismayed at the use of the threat of mandatory minimums as “sledgehammers” to extort guilty pleas, effectively vitiating the right to a trial. Ninety-seven percent of federal convictions are without trials, sparing the government the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. …

“Judging is removed,” Gleeson says, “prosecutors become sentencers.” And when threats of draconian sentences compel guilty pleas, “some innocent people will plead guilty.” (Washington Post)

The back-and-forth tweeting between Paul and Booker over Festivus could lend some bipartisan momentum to serious change on drug law reform including mandatory minimum changes and hemp farming. I’m rooting for the partnership but… could we still have a “Feats of Strength” showdown on the Senate floor please?

 
(Photo courtesy of Kars4kids, via Flickr Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)

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