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US Attorney’s “Hugs For Thugs” Program




U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles – the mad scientist-looking dude picture above – is loving life these days. After all, he got a huge spread in the liberal (national) MSM for his “Hugs for Thugs” program.

“Progressives” are gonna be beating a path to his door now …

What is “Hugs for Thugs?” It’s an effort by Nettles to stage interventions with certain low-level drug dealers rather than incarcerate them.

“First, federal and local prosecutors identify local drug dealers with the help of the police, probation officers and community members,” explains reporter Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post. “Next, they build criminal cases against them by reviewing records for outstanding warrants and conducting undercover drug buys.”

What happens next?

Yeah … that’s where it gets a little bit dicey.

“While high-level dealers are still arrested and prosecuted, some low-level offenders are given another option,” Reilly reports. “For them, Nettles stages something of an intervention. Together with the police, family members, religious leaders and other members of the community, prosecutors present the dealers with the evidence against them and give them a choice: Face the prospect of prison or participate in the pilot project.”

Hence the “hugs for thugs” label.

The “project” Nettles office is running (officially labeled the Drug Market Intervention Initiative) includes job placements, treatment programs and other support services. It also involves extensive monitoring of enrollees – who must be low-level dealers with limited, non-violent criminal histories.

Nettles says it doesn’t add taxpayer costs to his office, but …

Anyway on its surface a program like this would seem to be right up our alley. After all this website has railed against America’s failed “War on Drugs” – specifically citing the costly incarcerations it imposes on nonviolent drug users (and dealers) as a central failure.

Why wouldn’t we want to see fewer non-violent drug-related “offenders” kept out of jail?

Easy: Our objection to these incarcerations isn’t based on the mere fact these drug users and dealers should be kept out of prison – it is based on the premise that what they are doing is not wrong.

And should not be illegal …

Drug-related violence is a byproduct of its criminalization. Remove the criminal stigma, and much of the violence will disappear.

Furthermore, no matter what standards Nettles (or other prosecutors like him) seek to establish in implementing programs like this – there is a fundamental equal protection issue at play.

Specifically: Why should one drug dealer be permitted to go free while another is imprisoned? Sure, we get the various distinctions discussed above (i.e. big-time v. small-time, repeat offender v. newbie, violent past v. non-violent past) but still … we’re fundamentally talking about the same conduct aren’t we?

We give Nettles limited credit for ascertaining that the current government approach to fighting the “War on Drugs” is a disaster – but “Hugs for Thugs” is not the solution.

What is? Permitting adults to buy, sell or use drugs if they choose to do so …

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