Drug Prohibition, Alice in Wonderland, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Rolf Lindgren e-mailed the following to us. I haven’t fact-checked all of his claims (and some would be incredibly difficult to check out), but his perspective on Federal prisons and the War on Drug Users (and some who don’t even use drugs) is a must read merely for the satirical and literary value. I’ve left his original e-mail unedited and merely performed a cut-and-paste to post his content. Disclaimer: This article by Rolf Lindgren expresses opinions of his own — which are not neccessarily (but most of them are) entertained by HammerOfTruth.com.

an eyewitness account by Rolf Lindgren

Alcohol Prohibition raged from 1920 to 1933 and the national murder rate increased all 13 years. Then when Prohibition was ended, the murder rate decreased the next 9 consecutive years. This alone convinces me Prohibition is bad public policy, though I didn’t live during that time. Now we have the New Prohibition, Drug Prohibition, along with increased crime again. Drug Prohibition is bad public policy and I know this not only because I’ve read the statistics. I know this because I’m a statistic.

Note – Unlike Alcohol Prohibition, there has never been a Constitutional amendment to legalize Drug Prohibition.

On July 3, 1990, I was snared in what I soon learned was a new type of crime that hadn’t existed in all annals of human history from 3000 BC until our generation, the reverse-sting drug crime. Reverse-sting crimes are created when undercover government agents push drugs. It’s an intent crime. If you show your intent with even the slightest act of agreement, you’re guilty. Reverse-sting crimes remind me of thoughtcrimes in George Orwell’s 1984 or of Christmas presents; It’s the thought that counts! In my case, an undercover college student named Nick Hare called me on the phone 10 times offering drugs. Nick knew I was young, naive and financially unstable. He also was facing a prison sentence and had a deal where for every 5 years prison he could induce someone else to receive, he’d get a year reduction in his sentence. This doesn’t meet John Stuart Mill’s criteria for Utility. Not once did I call back. However, being an entrepreneurial person in a capitalist country who believes crimes have victims, I foolishly agreed to borrow money and meet Nick and his “friend” David Matthews. I went to the Fairfield Inn on the Madison east side with $10,750 in a Hardees cup. No drugs were present and no agreement was reached, but police still swarmed into the room, robbed me and put me in handcuffs. They said I was facing 5 years prison for attempting to buy drugs. I said, “I thought you were attempting to sell them!” Nick told undercover agent Matthews I was “a gift from God”. While in jail other inmates drank alcohol and took LSD and I met a murderer who protested the Vietnam War by robbing 43 banks.

At my first court appearance, Magistrate James Groh didn’t violate my Constitutional right and give me unreasonable bail, he didn’t give me any bail. Fortunately Judge Barbara Crabb overturned the decision and set bail at $100,000 for a nonviolent first offense. When home the first thing I saw in the paper was a murder suspect with $10,000 bail. I had to hire a Notary to watch me 24 hours a day. I was ordered to find a new job, but the magistrate wouldn’t let me go to an insurance interview. The magistrate wouldn’t let me substitute a private lawyer for a public pretender. I was subjected to body cavity searches and urinalysis drug tests each week. I’ve passed 65 drug tests. God forbid what would’ve happened had I ever failed one. To justify Drug Prohibition psychologists, police and probation officers constantly asked me if I had a drug problem. I replied “No.” They continued to ask if I had a problem. I answered “Well yes, I’ve just been arrested.” They would not let up and said “Mr. Lindgren, have you ever heard of denial?” I retorted “Yes. Denial is a river in Egypt!” Rather than create 5-year reverse-sting crimes for others I reluctantly plead guilty and prepared to spend 5 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

Hitler said “One crime is a tragedy, One million crimes is a statistic.” I’d like to prove Hitler wrong. To me, Drug Prohibition claiming one million victims per year is a tragedy. I sincerely hope my eyewitness testimony will shed light on the true nature of Drug Prohibition. I’m not cynical. Someday, I plan to run for US Congress.

On November 30, 1990, I went to the frozen tundra of the Duluth Federal Prison Camp, which is commonly colder than Alaska. During my first hours I wandered about, then walked into a room with a TV. I saw former Minnesota Viking Jim Marshall with his hands above his head being cuffed. An undercover drug agent nabbed him. This shocked me! As a child, I collected Jim’s football cards. He holds the NFL record by playing in 282 consecutive games and knows how to take care of his body. He later made an appearance to Duluth. Camp Duluth was like a small city with many buildings and each person working a job. I was told I’d be assigned one, which fit my abilities. Since I had a math degree I hoped for the best. I was assigned janitorial duties for 12 cents an hour. However, I soon discovered that the BOP did assign people to their abilities; they had embezzlers teaching accounting classes, marijuana farmers in the greenhouse, counterfeiters at the print shop and a man with 16 felonies teaching Life Planning class! There were 800 prisoners and 200 prison staff. Many staff lived with their families in houses inside the camp. Guards carried walkie-talkies, not guns, and a fence did not surround the camp. Many prisoners drove trucks around the camp doing maintenance. One prisoner escaped by driving his truck to the airport. 70% of the prisoners were Drug Prohibition victims and 30% were financial law offenders. 15% of the Drug Prohibition victims had reverse-sting cases, including my roommate who was arrested when an undercover agent sold him $80,000 worth of drugs. The agent pocketed $30,000 and sentencing was set as if $50,000 worth were present. 80% of the Drug Prohibition victims had conspiracy cases in which no drugs were present. The next time you hear a federal official debunk conspiracy theories please tell them to check their own court system. The remaining 5% were actually caught with drugs. Of the financial law offenders many were crooks and many were not. One conspired to import 6 garter snakes from Canada, one sold guns to Oliver North and one cut down a Christmas tree on federal land. A financial crook that swindled $5.3 million defended his actions by saying “So I misplaced a few decimal points!” There were mayors, assemblymen, prosecutors, CIA agents, city council members, tax resistors, a Federal Reserve Board banker, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s grandson, Pablo Escobar’s cousin, Roger Clinton’s connection, an IRS agent turned drug dealer and Al Gore’s cousin (who was released on January 21, 1993, the day after Al Gore took office). During football season a bookie was always around to take your Packer bets. The camp really wasn’t bad. We had an antique car show. We had tennis courts, indoor racquetball courts, bocce ball courts, a pool hall with big screen TV, a movie theater with popcorn and a bowling alley, all paid for by your federal income taxes. The bowling lines were free and you didn’t even have to pay $1 for shoes! We had a proposal to build us a golf course printed on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I found time to read books, earn 68 academic credits and join Toastmasters Speaking Club. A judge in a Toastmasters speech said “If I knew prison was this nice, I would’ve sentenced people to more time!” I learned in the law library that glass flasks if shaped the wrong way, are illegal (source – Chapter 18 federal law). I learned that democrat Lyndon LaRouche, imprisoned for campaign finance fraud, received 430,000 from the FEC in his cell (source – USA today). I learned that all peer reviewed scientific studies of drug testing have concluded that they do not predict work performance or safety (source – Scientific American). I learned that all peer reviewed scientific studies of crack babies have concluded they have no more developmental problems than average low-income babies do (source – ABC News). I saw an NBC news poll, which resulted in 52% of viewers favoring drug legalization. I learned that Luis del Cid, Noriega’s right hand man, had his 800-year sentence reduced to 2 years in exchange for testimony (source – USA today). I learned that federal agents can legally spy on your property without a warrant (source – executive order 12333). I learned the president can call a drug and crime emergency and legally seize all communications networks, power plants and airports (source – executive orders). After a year of learning I joined the Libertarian Party.

Many things at Camp Duluth were hard to believe. 16 co-defendants of a drug conspiracy didn’t know each other. An innocent man spent 8 years fighting prosecutor-delaying tactics before release. A drug dealer hyped by the media, as a Drug Kingpin couldn’t afford to feed his pets or pay rent. Another paid a corrupt Madison drug agent $1000 of protection cocaine per week. A “major drug trafficker” couldn’t afford green fees. A pimp had 3 girlfriends visit him simultaneously which caused a fight in the visiting center. A Drug Prohibition victim was caught in the heat of passion in the kitchen cooler with a female staff nutritionist. Another was caught in the heat of passion in the church bathroom with a female staff accountant. Another was double-jointed and could turn his feet 180 degrees so they pointed backward although he still faced forward. When arrested the police said “Turn around and face the wall!” He manipulated knees and ankles until they faced the wall, looked the police straight in the eye and said “OK, now what?” Some were put away by their cousin’s or brother’s drug accusations against them. A father and 2 sons all roomed together as drug conspiracy victims. A father testified “my son grew the marijuana, I didn’t know anything about it” to reduce his drug sentence. A corrupt DEA agent testified “my mom helped me store the drugs” to reduce his sentence from life to 8 years. Does Drug Prohibition promote family values? A Canadian was appealing his conviction. Why? He said the jury, none of whom had a college education, couldn’t understand the one-sentence, 30-page jury instructions! Colombian foreign nationals serving 12 years (in a prison without fences) were due to be deported at the conclusion of their sentences. They escaped. In 1994 seven people escaped. On the 6 o’clock local news after a triple-escape one day, the anchor said “Attention! Three drug dealers escaped from Duluth Prison today, but they’re not dangerous! Repeat! The 3 drug dealers who escaped aren’t dangerous!” By the way, 30% of federal prisoners are not U.S. citizens. A financial offender put his brother who’d died of natural causes, in the freezer so he could cash his Social Security checks. Another offender was a modern day Robin Hood. He stole Social Security checks and gave to the poor. Another offered money back guarantees in his mail order business that was not permitted by the government. A farmer put a herd of cows up for collateral on a bank loan. He was arrested for bank fraud when the herd was slaughtered. Two friends were employed in the kitchen, one of them a crooked IRS agent turned car thief. The thief was describing a truck he’d stolen 10 years earlier. His friend said “Hey! That was my truck!” A prescription drug offender gave a Toastmasters speech about preservatives and chemicals in prison food that cause flatulence. He stated that some ingredients were also used in rocket fuel. This caused a food strike in which most prisoners boycotted the cafeteria for 3 days, then were interrogated. This ludicrous event was covered on CNN news although most prisoners just ate grocery store food in their dorm rooms. A counterfeiter upon arrest said “All money is counterfeit!” alluding to our fiat currency. He was asked the difference between $1 million and $10 million and replied “About 15 minutes on the printer!” Since the Federal Reserve print shop might answer the same way I now know the true cause of inflation.

Between meeting new friends, working and eating, I also went to the library. I read about a 3-year-old crack dealer in Houston (source – CNN News). She could serve the mandatory 5 years prison and still get out for 3rd grade! I read about Robert Parish’s drug arrest (source – USA today). He’s the oldest player in NBA history and knows how to take care of his body. I read about a person convicted when an undercover agent sold him $300,000 worth of drugs. He appealed, saying he really had $600,000 and the agent stole $300,000. His sentence was doubled (source – federal case law). I learned that the first person off an airplane fits the drug courier profile because he’s anxious to leave. I learned that the last person off an airplane fits the drug courier profile because he’s afraid. I learned that a person who gets off in the middle fits the drug courier profile because he wants to mingle (source – Libertarian Party). I learned about new technology, which allows drug testing of hair going back 6 months before the time it was cut (source – USA today). Someday undercover barbers may send clumps of hair to the DEA who will match drug positives with DNA to produce names of people to arrest! Technology abused like this drove the Unabomber mad, but it makes me angry. We’ll all be suspects if Drug Prohibition is not halted. When arranging to go home I was told that eating poppy seed bagels, as a condition of release, was prohibited.

I returned to Madison on March 7, 1995, to many friends and family. Most don’t have it so well and are destroyed by the BOP. Most have their marriages end in divorce, their jobs terminated and their families end in bankruptcy. History has many cases of unjust prosecutions; Socrates 399 BC, Jesus 30 AD, St. George the Dragonslayer 303 AD, Giordano Bruno 1600, Galileo Galilei 1633 and Alcohol Prohibition 1920-1933. Now we have Drug Prohibition. Sometimes it’s easier to see the past more clearly than the present.

Postscript – The Declaration of Independence says you have the “inalienable right of pursuit of happiness.” Those who do drugs may not find happiness, but they are certainly pursuing it!

  1. “Hitler said “One crime is a tragedy, One million crimes is a statistic.” I’d like to prove Hitler wrong.”

    Actually no, Hitler didn’t say that. STALIN said “One death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic.”

    Also, he lacks an explanation as to how he thought he would “help” his friend facing prison time by buying ten grand+ in drugs off of him.

    I’m not saying his story isn’t true, but to quote all kinds of facts and figures and then screw up one of the most famous quotes ever and dodge the issue of why he did what he did to get caught makes it suspect.

  2. well obviously he bought this drug to sell it and then help is friend…don’t need a high school grade to guess that…plus the level of culture of somebody shouldn’t be an excuse to bash is credibility…there’s more important issue in this story than who said what at what time in history…government is corrupted and we still let them dictate our lives…what a bunch of coward we are…

  3. FYI

    There were no drugs in this case.

    The police (undercover collge student acting as a government agent) SAID they had drugs.

    I was not trying to help my “friend”.

    “Attempting to buy drugs” under federal law is not what you may think.

    If you go to a car lot with a checkbook, are you attempting to buy a car?

    Ever walked into a store at the mall to check out the products?

    You have to understand that someone like me, a partying frat boy at the time, would be making a huge decision to actually buy $10,750 worth of drugs.

    Before actually buying that much a price would have to be established (which it wasn’t) and you may want to see the merchandise before making the decision to buy.

    I had no what idea I was going to do, but I was scared shitless, ready to say; “Can I think about this a little longer?”

    If you think about breaking the law, but haven’t yet, have you already broken the law?

    Of course the Feds wouldn’t want to risk their case and give me a chance to back out of it.