I raise this question because there are many people, more specifically civilians, who are injured as a result of the War on Drugs. One particular incident that caught my attention is the murder of Rachel Hoffman. Rachel, a 23 year old woman and recent graduate from Florida State was caught twice with a “baggie of marijuana”.   As a result of her arrests police leveraged their power and stated that she would face up to 4 years in prison if she did not act as an undercover informant.

Unfortunately, Rachel accepted the offer and was killed in an operation Tallahassee police set up. Rachel was told to buy a large amount of drugs and a hand gun from drug dealers. She was killed by the very same hand gun that she was ordered to buy. I put the blame of this murder directly on Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones.

He stated on 20/20 “I’m calling her a criminal.” He explicitly stated that his department treats users and dealers as criminals and that “It’s my job as a police chief to find these criminals in our community and take them off the street, to make the proper arrests.”  Well Police Chief Dennis Jones, negligence in offering any sort of safety protocols resulted in the death of a young adult.

The ICRC, an organization that is based on the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its additional statutes and protocols, clarifies laws that constitute what make an international or domestic war crime.

The Laws in Question

(i) The conduct endangers protected persons or objects. The majority of war crimes involve death, injury, destruction or unlawful taking of property. However, not all acts necessarily have to result in actual damage to persons or objects in order to amount to war crimes. This became evident when the Elements of Crimes for the International Criminal Court were being drafted. It was decided, for example, that it was enough to launch an attack on civilians or civilian objects, even if something unexpectedly prevented the attack from causing death or serious injury. This could be the case of an attack launched against the civilian population or individual civilians, even though, owing to the failure of the weapon system, the intended target was not hit. The same is the case for subjecting a protected person to medical experiments – actual injury is not required for the act to amount to a war crime; it is enough to endanger the life or health of the person through such an act.[7]

(ii) The conduct breaches important values. Acts may amount to war crimes because they breach important values, even without physically endangering persons or objects directly. These include, for example, abusing dead bodies;[8] subjecting persons to humiliating treatment;[9] making persons undertake work that directly helps the military operations of the enemy;[10] violation of the right to fair trial;[11] and recruiting children under 15 years of age into the armed forces.[12]

(ii) Other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during an international armed conflict (continued):
making the civilian population or individual civilians, not taking a direct part in hostilities, the object of attack;
launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated;
making non-defended localities and demilitarized zones the object of attack;
subjecting persons who are in the power of an adverse party to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are neither justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the person concerned nor carried out in his or her interest, and which cause death to or seriously endanger the health of such person or persons;
the transfer by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory;
making buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes or historic monuments the object of attack, provided they are not military objectives.

Although these statutes are considered for international wars, it is terrible that these laws are being violated on our own citizens. These are still considered war crimes, and you can see that Dennis Jones’ department made clear violations to these statutes. If the person in question, Rachel Jones, was in fact a criminal then she would be part of the “enemy party”.   She was forced to buy a hand gun (aiding in military operations) and drugs. She was put into harms way and the Chief of Police needs to be held accountable.

I bring up these laws, because there really is a war occurring in our nation and non-violent civilians like Rachel Hoffman are caught in the crossfire. Dennis Jones may want to believe she was a criminal so he can sleep at night, but his departments policies in actions took the life of a daughter, student, and American citizen.

I write this to make a plea to any individuals who believe forcing non-violent drug offenders to be involved in these type of actions to step up and take action. Write to your representatives immediately and ask for drug reform. For more information about the 2008 incident and Chief Dennis Jones please review this investigation

Marijuana does not kill people, but the war on drugs does.

The Weed Street Journal