At our Vanderbilt Young Americans for Liberty chapter, it has become an annual tradition (as I'm sure it is for several other chapters) to hold a 4/20 bake sale to raise awareness of the failed war on drugs. This year, upon hearing of the Incarceration Nation initiative, our chapter decided to combine this with our current tradition.
We usually try to hold a speaker event a week before the bake sale in order to get people thinking about the issues. Luckily, NORML TN was gracious enough to have their President, Doak Patton, come into speak about" title="<--break-->" class="mceItem"> their plans for getting marijuana on the TN ballot. In addition, we watched a short video from Generation Opportunity on "The Story of Weldon Angelos." This heart-wrenching story is an unfortunate example of how punishment does not always fit the crime.
On 4/20, we had our brownies all made and all our literature laid out on a table in front of the busiest student center on campus. Since this was also held in conjunction with Incarceration Nation, it was complete with a PVC-piped, spray-painted "prison" where a passerby could snap a photo and declare to #FIXTHESYSTEM.
All in all, the event went well. We collected several new names, garnered a substantial amount of interest and conversations, and had a blast promoting a cause we were passionate about.
Lastly, a tip for chapter presidents: Don't be afraid to reach out to nearby chapters. I had the idea for NORML by looking at nearby events and was able to save time building the makeshift prison by asking a YAL member at Lipscomb, a campus only a few minutes away, for help. Best of luck!
During the first week of March, the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at the University of Central Florida hosted Incarceration Nation to bring more attention to how America, "Home of the Free" is not as free as many may think. America has the largest prison population in the world - more than North Korea and China COMBINED! America has 5% of the total global population, but cages 25% of the total global prison population. Some of the reasons are due to the war on drugs, the number of laws that are still on the books and the number of new laws enacted per year (around 40,000), mandatory minimums, and the list unfortunately goes on...
Thanks to YAL National, who provide us with a materials stipend, we were able to build a jail cell to make our activism more effective.
The day we went out to execute our activism, Rachel, a representative from Generation Opportunity decide to join in to help spread the word and table with us. Thanks again, Generation Opportunity!
Most of the members of the chapter used the question, "Are you a criminal?" to approach students. Many students raised their eyebrows and answered, "No," right off the bat. After they finish the very short "Are You a Criminal Quiz" (and a little explaining about the situation in the U.S.) they realized how easy it is to become a criminal in America.
School Choice, Foreign Policy, Free Markets! A full house debate with College Republicans and College Democrats. The College of Charleston packed it all in spring semester!
After our intro to libertarianism meeting, we were lucky to host school choice advocate Neil Mellen during national school choice week to talk in detail about about how market choice and quality apply to public education as well.
We were also able to host foreign policy professor Dr. Creed in our large Stern Center meeting room to talk about U.S. interventionism and the Middle East. There was a spirited discussion afterwards that left many of us wishing we had even more time for conversation. The talk spilled over into our post-meeting social at The Kickin' Chicken!
Finally, CofC finished off the semester with an ambitious campaign to politically awaken our campus, "End CofC Apathy," hosting a full house auditorium of students for an on-campus debate with College Republicans and College Democrats. Go #TeamLiberty!
Efforts to end the death penalty took a monumental step forward yesterday. Despite a veto from Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, the Nebraska Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto and passed legislation repealing the state’s death penalty, making it the first red state to do so since North Dakota in the 1970s.
Think about that moment. Not only did a red state just repeal the death penalty. It had overwhelming legislative support – a veto-proof majority to be exact – for ending the practice.
Nebraska took this step because Republican senators joined a bi-partisan coalition working to repeal the death penalty. These Republicans had principled reasons for opposing the death penalty, as the lead GOP bill sponsor, Senator Colby Coash, explained:
"[Repeal of the death penalty] is consistent with my pro-life views, but it's also consistent with trying to make government more efficient. With the death penalty, taxpayers are not getting what they're paying for. If any other programs were as costly or inefficient as this, we would have gotten rid of them."
As is the case elsewhere in the country, the death penalty in Nebraska had been a failure. Nebraska had dedicated extra time and resources to a death penalty it virtually never used. The state’s last execution was in 1997 and the lack of available lethal injection drugs had made it impossible for the state to carry out executions.
Furthermore, keeping the death penalty had led to disastrous mistakes. The threat of the death penalty by prosecutors in a 1986 murder case in Beatrice, Nebraska, led to false confessions and the wrongful conviction of six individuals. DNA evidence eventually proved their innocence after over 75 years collectively in prison.
Confronted with these realities, Nebraska put an end to its death penalty. As Nebraskans were debating the death penalty this year, Young Americans for Liberty students were active hosting educational events on the issue. Death row exoneree Ray Krone visited Creighton University in an event sponsored by the Creighton YAL Chapter, and shared his experience of being wrongfully sentenced to death on the basis of faulty evidence.
Given the persistent problems plaguing the death penalty, Nebraska likely will not be the last state to scrap it. Expect more states, red and blue alike, to follow Nebraska’s lead.
It's a week before finals. Tension is rising as students clamor to gather all possible information necessary for their exams. As the desire for knowledge increases, so does desire for.. reform?
After an extensive period of waiting, the University of South Alabama's Young Americans for Liberty chapter finally received confirmation as a Student Government Association recognized student organization. The completion of the journey through the red tape safari was celebrated with the chapter's first official meeting on criminal justice - Incarceration Nation.
Humble but determined, we set up our display in the school's student center, a normally chaotic venue. The awkward chills in the midst of spring weather didn't stop students from passing our table with minds ready to absorb our information. Some were shocked when told about the alarming incarceration rates in the country they reside in. Others were aware of the crisis, dismissing the title, 'Land of the Free'.
We reassembled later that evening for our meeting. Although there was a greasy and tasty incentive, pizza, only a small group of participants came for the discussion. And discussion, there was! After giving the attendees a debrief on YAL's philosophy and long-term objectives, we dove deeper into the subject of criminal justice reform. A few of the students learned about the damage the top down structure of America's justice system where sentences are exaggerated on ill-formed policy, destroying the lives of many non-violent criminals. Some students even shared their own stories, and continued to explain how these policies have caused the demise of their own relatives.
Throughout our discussion we took the occasional detour to discuss the effects of other destructive statist policies,
People can come together no matter their political ideology for a very important issue. Yes, we held an event with a conservative group and the NAACP. At the event our members made sure to pass out the remaining YAL materials including Constitutions we had left. The event started with
Whenever a state has the power to execute, there is the potential for it to abuse this power. An abuse of this power is currently on display in Texas, which is trying to execute a man with severe mental illness.
Texas has scheduled an execution date of December 3 for Scott Panetti, who was convicted of murdering his wife’s parents in 1992. Panetti suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Prior to the murders of which he was convicted, Panetti was hospitalized over a dozen times for mental illness.
His trial left little doubt about the severe nature of his mental illness. Panetti represented himself, dressed up in a cowboy suit, and tried to subpoena Jesus Christ, John F. Kennedy, and the Pope.
The state has no justification executing someone with severe mental illness. Doing so would not make Texas safer but would rather be a
The idea of ending the War on Drugs is something that is still relatively controversial, especially in a conservative state. Many conservatives don't want to end the War on Drugs, and they feel that drugs do not have a place in their society. Although they identify as Constitutionalists and embrace small government, they fail to see how this war on members of society grows government. Our club decided to show a conservative state the error of their ways by holding an "End the Drug War" event on our campus.
Utah is one of the most supportive states in the country for the War on Drugs. According to the Libertas Institute here in Utah, well over 50% of the state's population does not support the legalization of marijuana for either recreational or medical uses. With those facts, we can only imagine that Utahns would disagree with legal drugs like cocaine and heroin. Our chapter at Southern Utah University decided to take this battle head on, and inform the community about the issues that the drug war has brought upon our society.
On November 5th our chapter hosted an "End the Drug War" event on our campus. We tabled for 3 days leading up to the event to attract a crowd and received a few negative comments from the students and community. We felt that this was an important issue to educate the community about, so we decided to continue our plans and host our event. At our table we had literature and handouts available to educate students. They were provided by the Drug Policy Alliance. Many students seemed interested in learning about our arguments, and we attracted a pretty good crowd. We were even attracted the local school paper to cover our event and help us spread the word.
Through SFL's Virtual Speaker Bureau, we were able to host Jack A. Cole, one of the founders of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), as a virtual speaker. We hosted Jack Cole through Skype, and he laid out his arguments for ending the War on Drugs. He lectured for an hour to a group of 30 students and community members. Many students found his arguments interesting, but they were still skeptical.
While we felt some negative push-back, we were happy to plant these new ideas into a conservative campus and state. We wanted to make the discussion non-taboo and noncontroversial, so by legitimizing these arguments, we are able to start a new debate in the community. We hope that this will continue to encourage change, especially in a community that doesn't want change in regard to the War on Drugs.
Over Veterans Day weekend, Paschal High School's YAL chapter hosted the first ever, "A Night in Utopia," a one night camping trip just outside Fort Worth city limits. The trip was open to anyone who had ever signed up for YAL at one of our tabling events, and for $20, PHSYAL provided your food, drink, and tent!
Fort Worth is home to Backwoods, an outdoors equipment retail store. Backwoods offers guided expeditions to nearly every creek and cranny of the world. PHSYAL had a backwoods guide come out to teach an environmental survival seminar and lead a nature walk through the woods.
After our Nature Walk we gathered around a fire for dinner and our chapter president's presentation for the evening: "How the environment would thrive in Ron Paul's America."
Finally, We enjoyed smores under the stars and listened to guitar around the campfire.
Our success can be measured by the 27 attendees, and the 24 who came to our next meeting on Wednesday!
Special Thanks to Backwoods and everyone who helped make last weekend such a success.
As pro-Liberty circles revel in their victory after residents of Oregon and Washington DC voted by ballot initiative to decriminalize the recreational use of cannabis, two additional victories in Arizona--both won by initiative as well, are also worth mentioning.
In a recent interview with Tom Woods, the Tenth Amendment Center's Michael Boldin explains Prop 122 and Prop 303 in detail, and their significance to the modern state's rights movement in the context of other pro-Tenth Amendment initiatives which made their way to ballots on election day.
Proposition 122 affirms one tool in the kit of the state's rights movement, one that serves as the title of the Tom Woods book on the subject, nullification. Prop 122 alters the language in Arizona's state constitution to mirror the "Anti-Commandeering Doctrine," a series of precedents set by the US Supreme court (one among them as recent as 2012) which uphold a state's right to refuse cooperation with federal authorities to enforce federal mandates.
According to Judge Andrew Napolitano, a state's refusal to cooperate with federal agents can make federal laws "nearly impossible to enforce." For all practical purposes, this is tantamount to a state nullifying, or rejecting, federal law.
In his interview Michael Boldin explains how Prop 122 may work in action:
"Every time the feds do a raid...they always have assistance from state and local police, state and local investigators, and state and local resources. The sheriffs block the roads, the cops knock on the door. They carry all the water while the feds have one or two agents directing the show. If the states withdraw support, then the federal government does not have the manpower or the resources to do to you what they want to do to you."
Boldin envisions a broad range of issues on which the state of Arizona could invoke its new constitutional language to block federal overreach. In his article on the subject for the Tenth Amendment Center, Boldin suggests