Instead of the Show Me State, a better nickname for Missouri might be the
More people are behind bars in Missouri based on population than any state
outside the South, according to new U.S. Department of Justice statistics
analyzed by The Kansas City Star. Missouri now has the eighth-highest
imprisonment rate in the nation.
Take inmate Gary Miller. He didn't kill, assault, or rob anyone. He didn't
So why, you might wonder, is the 35-year-old plumber and roofer from House
Springs, Mo., serving a four-year prison term at the Algoa Correctional
Center? It's because he ignored court orders to pay $17,000 in child
support for a son he had fathered nearly a decade ago.
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TOPEKA - You may soon have to sign a form and show identification when
buying popular decongestants in Kansas as part of the state's efforts
to fight methamphetamine.
Lawmakers gathered Thursday to announce a plan to restrict the sale of
over-the-counter tablets containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient
in the manufacture of methamphetamine, a highly addictive and
dangerous illegal drug often called meth.
Sudafed, Actifed, Nyquil and more than 300 other products contain
pseudoephedrine. The rules would not apply to those products when sold
in gel-tab or liquid formulas, which are not easily used in meth production.
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Now that Columbia has an ordinance allowing
patients to smoke marijuana on doctors' orders, backers plan to push
for the same medical relief for all Missourians.
A survey by Southwest Missouri State University indicates there may be
growing support for legalizing marijuana as a therapy option for
residents undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from illnesses such as
AIDS and glaucoma.
A majority of Missouri residents support medical marijuana if it is
prescribed to patients in extreme pain, according to the Springfield
university's telephone survey.
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Think it's hard to find a job? Try checking the "yes" box on an application
that asks if you've ever been convicted of a felony.
In candor, human resource officers will admit that such applications move
quickly to the reject pile. Hiring is hard enough without messing with
people who've messed up criminally.
Job hunters with criminal records have a tough time returning to the work
force after they've served time. It's hard, too, if they're on
probation. Their records, which might show up in pre-employment background
checks even if they don't admit it on applications, are likely to keep them
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The rush started in my legs, and they kind of started twitching, making me
want to scream as loud as I could at all the right-wingers in the room, but
I ignored my base instinct and ignored the adrenaline filling my veins.
Hey, maybe it was only make-believe, but I take change seriously. I define
change as altering the way things are.
Earlier this month I was one of about 700 students from across Missouri
taking part in the annual Youth in Government program sponsored by the YMCA.
For three days, we were Missouri's government in the capital, Jefferson
City: the governor and the General Assembly.
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I've been reading about the case before the Supreme Court regarding
medical marijuana and the federal government's zeal to make an example
of the two plaintiffs.
This is a classic example of the people being far ahead of the
knuckleheads in power.
I also believe that, to an extent, this is a case of the government
by, of and for the corporations, attempting to protect the
multi-billion dollar drug testing and pharmaceutical industries.
The Jackson County Legislature has approved a $263.2 million budget
for 2005 that will spend the county's entire $5.1 million anti-drug
tax surplus fund. By spending the entire surplus, the county will be
able to give $25 million next year to anti-drug programs.The county
gave those programs more than $26 million in 2004. Most of the funding
reduction is due to one-time expenses in 2004, including capital
improvements at the jail and court computer upgrades. "We were .
shorter (for 2005), but by working out the numbers, by moving some
things back to the general fund, we were actually able to increase
every line-item for anti-drug from the 2004 budget to the 2005
budget," said Legislator Dan Tarwater, chairman of the anti-drug
committee. "That was not easy." But spending the surplus next year
could mean less money for anti-drug programs in 2006. The surplus
comes from agencies not spending all the money given to them from the
anti-drug sales tax, and when the tax generates more money than
expected. "We expect some amount in the surplus, but not another $5
million," county spokesman Ken Evans said. "There will be less to work
with." During budget hearings this year, Tarwater said spending the
surplus was in line with a 1995 county resolution to deplete the
anti-drug surplus fund by 2001. Tarwater argued that the resolution
reflected the intent of voters who renewed the anti-drug tax in 1995.
Prosecutor Mike Sanders and County Executive Katheryn Shields debated
during the hearings over how to spend anti-drug tax and other county
money. The hearings culminated Thursday with an almost 7 1/2-hour
session involving public testimony, a standing-room-only audience,
last-minute negotiations and painstaking line-item transfers. County
officials on all sides of the debate said they were pleased with the
outcome. "This is my 11th budget," Shields said. "People expressed
concerns that we wouldn't get a budget, but I assured everyone that we
always get a budget. . Not everything I want, not everything the
Legislature wants, but compromising between that, it's beneficial to
the citizens of Jackson County." Legislature Chairman Scott Burnett
said: "I feel good about it. . The county executive was exemplary in
her work and her cooperation. . All of the department heads and the
prosecutor all worked together and I think we came up with a good
budget that covers all the important areas of the county." Overall,
the county's 2005 budget is about $19.4 million less than this year.
The decrease was caused in part by a drop in capital improvement
projects. The 2004 budget included a $6.1 million renovation of the
downtown courthouse that is nearing completion. However, the 2005
budget includes $1.5 million in capital projects, $5.6 million in road
and bridge improvements and $900,000 for the county's general
information mapping system. The sheriff also will receive an overtime
increase for deputies to begin taking concealed-weapons license
applications. Increases to Sanders' budget will pay for a new
white-collar crimes unit support staff, additional prosecutors for
domestic violence and a child-abuse prosecutor who previously was paid
from a now-expired federal grant. The increase for the prosecutor will
come from general fund dollars shifted from the corrections
department, which Shields oversees.
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TOPEKA - Law enforcement officials are considering asking for a restriction
on the purchase of certain allergy medications in an effort to reduce the
number of methamphetamine labs in the state.
Since Oklahoma passed such a law, officials have noticed an increase in the
number of customers from that state coming across the border to buy the
medications in Kansas, which they then take back to Oklahoma to make meth,
said Kyle Smith, a spokesman for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
"We're hearing stories about buses pulling up with people piling out to buy
two and three packages at a time and heading home," Smith said.
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The Jackson County Legislature will allow the auditor examining the
county's anti-drug tax to be interviewed by county Prosecutor Mike Sanders.
Auditor David Cochran of Cochran, Head and Co. said Sanders had asked to
talk to him about allegations that records were destroyed. Cochran said he
did not know what information Sanders was seeking. But he said he needed
the Legislature, which hired him, to waive a confidentiality agreement with
him before an interview with Sanders.
"I have no problem speaking with the prosecutor, but I can't reveal my
clients' information to anyone without their permission," Cochran said.
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Trying to follow what's going on with Jackson County's anti-drug tax, but
having trouble following all the twists and turns?
What began with questions about how proceeds from the anti-drug tax had
been spent has moved into other areas, including a wide-ranging federal
grand jury investigation and a controversy over missing records.
The maze of issues involves scores of county officials, auditors and
Here is a primer to help sort it out:
A. The Community-Backed Anti-Drug Tax, known as COMBAT, is a quarter-cent
sales tax that generates money for law enforcement, drug treatment and
drug-use prevention programs. It is expected to raise about $19.5 million
this year. Voters approved the tax in 1989, and it went into effect in
April 1990. Voters renewed the tax in 1995 and in 2003.
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WASHINGTON - Many teen drivers think it is less dangerous to drive
after smoking marijuana than after drinking alcohol, a perception the
government wants to change.
"Driving sober means no alcohol, no marijuana, no drugs," John
Walters, the Bush administration's drug policy director, said Thursday
as he showed a TV ad aimed at stopping teens from driving after
Walters' office is spending $10 million on efforts to teach teens
about the dangers of drugged driving. Brochures are also being
distributed. in schools and motor vehicle offices. Marijuana can
affect concentration, perception and reaction time up to 24 hours
after it is smoked, Walters said. Yet teens have gotten the incorrect
message that it is a benign drug.
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WASHINGTON - Prices for cocaine and heroin have reached 20-year lows,
according to a report released Tuesday.
The Washington Office on Latin America, which usually is critical of
U.S. policies in Latin America, said the low prices called into
question the effectiveness of the two-decade U.S. war on drugs. A
White House official said the numbers were old and didn't reflect
recent efforts in Colombia to curb drug cultivation.
The Washington Office on Latin America, citing the White House's
Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the street price of 2
grams of cocaine averaged $106 in the first half of 2003, down 14
percent from the previous year's average and the lowest price in 20
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Jackson County officials confirmed Tuesday that at least five
employees had been subpoenaed in an investigation into allegations
that records were improperly destroyed.
The officials said they had heard as many as nine subpoenas had been
issued seeking documents and testimony for a Jackson County grand jury
hearing scheduled for Friday. However, county spokesman Ken Evans on
Tuesday had copies only of subpoenas served on five staff members.
Those receiving subpoenas included finance director Gloria Fisher,
records director Robert Kelly and budget administrator Jeremy
Willmoth. Kelly and Fisher declined to comment, referring calls to
Evans. Willmoth could not be reached.
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BOSTON - A federal appeals court has ruled that Boston's mass-transit
agency violated free-speech rights by refusing to display
advertisements from a group that wants to legalize marijuana.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority rejected three ads
submitted by the group Change the Climate in 2000, claiming they
encouraged children to smoke pot. The transit authority argued that it
has the right to protect riders from offensive or illegal messages.
But the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Monday that the MBTA,
a quasi-government agency, does not have the right to turn down ads
based on its viewpoint. Doing so violates the First Amendment, the
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Justices Examine the Legal Foundations of State Laws, but the Myriad Issues
Behind Those Laws Won't Go Away
"I THINK REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE SUPREME COURT DOES OR DOESN'T DO, MARIJUANA
WILL ALWAYS BE USED FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES. SOCIETY WILL JUST HAVE TO COME TO
TERMS WITH THAT," DAVID SAPP, A RETIRED COLUMBIA LAWYER WHO HAS HAD MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS FOR 20 YEARS
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Monday debated whether allowing medical
marijuana is a necessary kindness in a compassionate society or a dangerous
move that undermines the fight against narcotics.
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Jackson County Legislator Bob Spence urged colleagues on Monday to continue
the anti-drug-tax surplus fund.
He said most agencies fail to spend money allocated to them from annual
anti-drug tax revenues and did not need additional dollars from the surplus.
Spence said that for the past eight years only the county jail and the
Kansas City Police Department spent all the money they received, and they
did so for only two years.
Other legislators favored giving most of the surplus to the agencies.
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CARTAGENA, Colombia -- President Bush traveled to the heart of
the international cocaine trade Monday to pledge America's help in the
fight against narco-terrorism.
Stopping in Colombia on his way back from a 21-nation Pacific Rim
summit in Chile, Bush said drug trafficking threatened the stability
of the entire Western Hemisphere. He promised more U.S. aid to help
Colombia fight an alliance of drug traffickers and guerrillas.
"The drug traffickers who practice violence and intimidation in this
country send their addictive and deadly products to the United States.
Defeating them is vital to the safety of our peoples and to the
stability of this hemisphere," Bush said during a joint appearance
with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
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BOGOTA, Colombia - When President Bush visits Colombia today for a
brief stay, there are few bigger trophies he could carry back home
than the extradition order for Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela.
Once the leader of the mighty Cali Cartel that controlled up to 80
percent of the world's cocaine market, Rodriguez Orejuela, 65, and
brother Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, 62, are awaiting extradition to the
United States to face drug trafficking charges.
The extraditions would be considered a huge victory for Colombian
President Alvaro Uribe. After being peppered with allegations of
connections to traffickers during his presidential campaign, Uribe has
made his mark with the Bush administration by cracking down on them.
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Jackson County Drug-tax Dispute Looms
A possible investigation into records-tampering allegations
surrounding Jackson County's anti-drug tax could delay auditors from
issuing a report.
However the county Legislature on Monday approved a $30,000 increase
in its contract with the auditing firm Cochran, Head & Co.
Auditor David Cochran said that although his firm had completed its
audit, he was reluctant to issue findings until the records-tampering
allegations investigation was complete. He said the probe could
unearth additional records or information that could alter his findings.
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2005 Plan Wouldn't Include Surplus From Anti-Drug Tax
In the continuing controversy surrounding Jackson County's anti-drug
tax, County Executive Katheryn Shields said she will not recommend
spending money next year from the estimated $5.1 million surplus fund.
On Monday, she blamed a lack of direction from the county Legislature
for her decision as she proposed her administration's $255.5 million
2005 county budget.
The anti-drug tax surplus fund has been a constant source of
controversy this year, sparking an ongoing audit of the
Community-Backed Anti-Drug Tax, known as COMBAT.
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