Vice Squad
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
"Kids Helping Kids": A Bizarre Drug "Treatment" Program

What is it about Milford, Ohio? That's where an outrageous, $60,000 undercover sting operation was pulled off in a high school by the District Superintendent. Now we find that it is the home of Kids Helping Kids, an odd, and troubling, drug treatment program for kids.

I highly recommend that you watch the video available at this local TV news webpage. The sound starts a few seconds before the video, and it has some unfortunate local TV elements, but it is also quite informative.

One parent offers a sentiment that sounds about right to me: "No one should be abused emotionally or physically in the name of treatment." Incidentally, there don't seem to be any doctors involved in this "treatment".

Kids Helping Kids doesn't seem to be the worst treatment program out there.

Update: Radley Balko has more, a whole lot more, first here and then here. It's worse than I thought.

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Punishment By Police, Not By Courts

The chief of police in Cincinnati wants unconvicted vice arrestees to be punished more severely. Right now the city tows the cars of folks arrested for drug or prostitution offenses, if the car is claimed to be involved in the commission of the offense. Then the arrestees are charged $200 for the towing service. The chief wants the fee increased to $500, to deter folks from coming downtown with the intent to engage in verboten vice. But hold it, increasing a fee for deterrence purposes? Doesn't that sound more like a fine than a fee? Surely the Cincinnati authorities wouldn't impose a fine on people prior to any conviction, people who are presumed to be innocent of any wrongdoing?

The chief's plan also calls for doubling the "fee" to $1000 if it is not paid within a week. Why not $1 million, chief? Don't we want to deter late payments by the non-convicted? I think you're going soft on us.

Vice Squad occasionally looks at various methods by which that pesky "due process" requirement can be avoided. One popular ploy is to post the photos of prostitution-related arrestees on the web. It looks like two communities mentioned earlier in Vice Squad for that tactic, Frederick, Maryland and Durham, North Carolina, have abandoned the effort.

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Monday, November 07, 2005
Absinthe Present (and Past)

There's nothing like legalization to spur on absinthe culture to such a pitch that beleaguered mostly-retired vice bloggers have trouble keeping up. First, Wired has a great article that among other things, suggests that the legalization of absinthe in Europe was due to an EU oversight in promulgating food regulations in 1988. (Another example of inefficiency being a virtue in bureaucracy.) But more importantly, it looks as if the combination of modern chemistry and access to intact, century old bottles of absinthe have allowed the absinthe that once captivated the artistic classes of France and Europe to be re-created.

In another piece of historical absinthe preservation (if not re-creation), a 12-minute movie from 1913 depicting absinthe preparation is now available on DVD. In the early days of film, before the spread of the absinthe ban, there were many films depicting (or rather, sensationalizing) absinthe drinking; but apparently, only this 12-minute film has survived.

The removal of the ban is a boon for certain absinthe producers, of course.

Vice Squad's absinthe habit was mostly recently stoked here.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005
More Asian Drug War Humanitarianism

The point of the war on drugs is to decrease human suffering. If you enter a war for some other higher purpose, the inevitable casualties are a tragic but necessary price to achieve that paramount objective. But casualties that are sustained in a humanitarian war directly undermine the point of the war. They should be avoided at almost all cost, or the war itself should be re-thought.

Our attempt to make people better off via the war on drugs somehow skirts this logic. We not only do not go out of our way to avoid casualties, we actively seek them out. The most recent outrage (via D'Alliance) is the scheduled execution by hanging of a 25-year old in Singapore. He was convicted of trying to leave the country with a few hundred grams of heroin. So he must die. Presumably this death is necessary to deter others who might otherwise leave Singapore with heroin. Wasn't heroin completely legal once? How did we end up executing people for carrying a little bit of it? Don't such punishments run counter to the presumably humanitarian purpose of this war, this absurd war, on drugs?

Declare a substance to be evil and this is what happens: no standards by which to judge infractions, and a willingness to adopt any sort of enforcement that offers hope of reducing the use of the evil substance. Drugs do addle minds, no?

Asia seems particularly susceptible to drug war fanaticism, in the Santayanian sense of redoubling your efforts when you have lost sight of your aims. Here's a previous Vice Squad post on the lamentable phenomenon.

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