Thanks to Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) we're closer than ever to realizing George Orwell's vision of 1984. He's introduced a new bill which Congress is debating right now which takes the War on Drugs to unprecedented Orwellian levels of intrusion into personal privacy and could literally turn almost anyone into a criminal. The bill is H.R 1528 the "Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act", which will make it illegal not to report drug use or drug related activity to the police and provide mandatory sentences of at least 2 years for those who don't turn in relativees, friends, neighbors or people they observe doing such dangerous things as smoking a joint or if you just hear them talking about using drugs. It also makes it illegal to refuse to cooperate with a drug investigation, including making it a criminal offense not to wear a wire and go undercover if asked by law enforcement.
This is a classic example of bad law. Not only does it turn witnesses into criminals, but it also includes a provision to assign minimum sentences to all federal drug crimes. At a time when we should be reconsidering the terrible human and financial costs of the War on Drugs this legislation creates whole new classes of criminals out of innocent people. It's reminiscent of the outrageous forfeiture laws, which take away property for any association with drugs. Now they want to take away your liberty just for knowing about drug activity and not becoming an informant. It turns parents into government spies who have to turn in their own children or go to jail. In theory, under this law, if your child said she had heard friends talking about smoking a joint you could go to jail for not informing on your child and the child could be taken away from you for not informing on her friends.
Under the law, if you witness drug use or even hear someone talking about it, you have to turn them in to the police within 24 hours. If you need more time to think about it, or don't want to rat out your spouse or child or neighbor, you can be arrested and potentially sentenced to a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 10 years in jail. It doesn't matter if the offender is a friend or relative or if you need 48 hours to think about it, you have to report the person to the government within 24 hours or go to jail. In addition, you have to cooperate in every way with the resulting investigation, including wearing a wire and going undercover if needed. So in addition to turning family member against family member, the legislation could also put many Americans into dangerous situations by forcing them to go undercover to gain evidence against dangerous criminals.