Kaufman County District Court- Opportunity Costs and the Drug War
Yesterday, I had two cases on the docket in the 422nd District Court in Kaufman. I quickly browsed through the courts docket and noticed that around 15 criminal cases were set to be heard that afternoon. A quick glance at the State’s file bucket showed that roughly 8 of those cases were for drugs.
Plea Negotiation Conferences
In the 422nd a common court setting is a Plea Negotiation Conference, or PNC. I had two of those today. I spent time talking to a prosecutor on the various aspects of my cases. Both cases were reset.
After my cases were reset I looked around the courtroom and noted the 4 prisoners, 2 sheriff’s deputies, 5 defense lawyers, and 2 prosecutors and of course, the judge.
Opportunity costs are a term I’ve used before. For those new to the blog Opportunity Costs put the cost of any choice as the value of forgone choices.
Again, 50% of the cases that day were for drugs. Possession of various controlled substances, in various amounts, all requiring the full attention of the criminal justice system.
Kaufman has some great felony prosecutors. The prosecutor I spoke to had years of experience and education. If my dead body is found in Kaufman County I would have little doubt these prosecutors would do a great job convicting my killer.
Besides the two prosecutors there were a half dozen others with law degrees, various law enforcement professionals with years of training, an elected judge, citizens fighting for their freedom and the family members who care about them, and finally the poor taxpayer funding this production. 50% of that courtroom was there for drugs. To keep people from getting high. To uphold Prohibition.
The amount of human potential we incarcerate for Prohibition is monumental. Not to mention the resources spent to train prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers, police etc. All the time, energy, and money we spend on Prohibition is staggering. It keeps a lot of people busy (myself included). However, it also keeps a lot of people from doing other productive work.
Without the War on Drugs the market would support less prosecutors and defense lawyers. These talents could be used to start businesses, become teachers, or fight other legal injustice (Patriot Act perhaps). The law enforcement agents in the room (bailiffs) could be out looking for real criminals. The inmates could be working to support their family or drug habit. The families wouldn’t have to drive to Kaufman to watch their loved ones sit in chains. Finally the judge could focus on murder cases or other civil cases. Lawsuits would be resolved quicker, real criminals would face justice sooner.
I have to admit that when this Drug War is over the criminal market may dry up. However, I will gladly sacrifice this career fighting dope cases and do something else. Have you been injured in a car wreck?