Pubdate: Mon, 26 May 2003
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2003 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Author: Rob Vaughan
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Note: To read more about the "ice epidemic" in Hawaii, go to .


"Law targets 'ice houses' " screamed the May 20 Advertiser front-page
headline. But on closer inspection, we find that the law does no such thing. 

"Law targets landlords" is what it should have said. And you might as well
have added, "Government admits it is giving up on war on drugs."

Are we to believe that if the police can't enforce the law themselves, then
property owners will be able to do it for them? What sense does that make?
The police already have the enormous power of the state behind them. They
have hundreds of officers, arsenals of weapons, body armor, sophisticated
communications equipment, battering rams, search warrants, helicopters,
pepper spray, handcuffs, undercover agents, SWAT teams, scores of
informants, drug-sniffing dogs, and years of training in locating and
arresting criminal suspects.

Are we supposed to believe that if the police, with all these resources,
can't do their job, someone's 70-year-old retired auntie from Makiki can? 

And it's not the drug manufacturers, dealers or users the law goes after. It
specifically threatens property owners with confiscation of their assets if
they can't do the job the state is in effect already saying it can't do.

Are landlords supposed to start conducting invasive searches of their
tenants' homes? Are they going to start spying on renters? Will they start
refusing to sign leases with certain families because they fit some ethnic
or racial category that has been stereotyped in the media as likely to be
drug users? 

Linda Lingle and the Legislature want us all to believe the government is
"doing something" to combat ice. But what they've really done is
irresponsibly shift the burden of law enforcement to a certain segment of
the community that is neither trained nor equipped to do it. The $100,000
appropriated for the project would be better spent on counseling and
diversion programs. 

Now, it just makes it easier for the government to seize private property
from people who are less able to find drug labs than the police themselves.
Feel-good headlines and poorly-thought-out laws don't translate into
workable public policy, let alone justice. 

The governor and state lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves, and the
citizens of Hawai'i should tell them so. 

Rob Vaughan
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