Judge Mark Bennett, a terrific federal district judge and dear friend, poked good-natured fun at me for ending my post on Ben Dubas by suggesting that it is foolish to call federal drug crimes “non-violent.” Well, it is foolish, and, moreover, it is terribly misleading.
The drug crimes prosecuted in the federal courts are always violent, and I mean that literally. When you distribute a substance that you know is poison to another person that is a violent act. Period. End of story. Moreover, the connection between guns and drugs is beyond dispute. Not every purveyor of drugs uses or carries a gun, but the world where they operate organizes around one thing and one thing only, guns. Still further, whole neighborhoods that were once rich, vibrant and nurturing are now literal war zones because of drugs. In large swaths of America, functional families are no more because of drugs. Like global warming, these are inconvenient truths.
To be sure, addiction and poverty drive many offenders and those factors often substantially lessen (or should substantially lessen) a federal offender’s culpability. And, I certainly agree that statutory mandatory minimum sentences make little sense and have resulted in federal prison sentences that are far, far longer than are wise or just. In that same vein, I strongly support those who want to lessen the number of people we put in federal prisons.
But, I am also a legal realist. To say that federal drug crimes are “non-violent” is bull shit–plain and simple.