Peter Schaffer on Drug Laws
Peter J. Schaffer, Attorney at Law devotes his practice to New York State criminal defense and the defense of all federal criminal matters throughout the United States. From his office in Bronx, New York, Mr. Schaffer is readily accessible to all New York City, Nassau and Westchester County Criminal and State Supreme Courts, as well as the U.S. District Courts for the District of Connecticut and the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
With a wealth of experience handling cases ranging from simple traffic violations to complex federal death penalty eligible felonies, Mr. Schaffer uses the knowledge and skills he has developed over the past twenty-one years of trial work to help his clients achieve the best result in every case he defends.
Mr. Schaffer appears regularly on The Nancy Grace Show on CNN HeadlineNews, and on IN SESSION on truTV (formerly, courtTV), and has been heard on Sirius Satellite Radio and Bloomberg Radio as a guest commentator on nationally prominent criminal trials.
Peter Schaffer: Well, it was incredibly unjust because they had a hundred to one ratio. For example, if you had one gram of cocaine powder, if you had one-hundredth the amount of crack cocaine that those would be considered equal. And I think that crack cocaine typically has been associated with communities that are lower income, poor people; whereas, you know, at, you know, parties in Aspen, people aren’t smoking crack. So it did have a horrific effect on
population. I do federal criminal work and I’ve seen a number of young people face horrific sentencing because of their involvement with crack cocaine, maybe on a very superficial level, but because of the way the way the sentencing guidelines were structured, there was no such thing as a small case.
I mean they would have to have a hundred times as much as the equivalent amount of crack. And from what I’ve learned that to convert powder cocaine to crack, it’s a one-to-one basis. So if you were in the federal system, it’s insidious enough that if there was proof that you intended to convert say 50 grams of powder into 50 grams of crack, it would be treated at the 100 to 1 ratio.
Question: So you feel your clients arrive in court because they were destined to be there?
Peter Schaffer: Well, I don’t know if anybody’s destined to be before the criminal justice system, but if you grow up in an area of low income where many people are not working, where there’s not much employment, where there is not a lot of guidance, inevitably people- there are a lot of opportunities to become involved in criminal activity. Also in the lower income communities, people are much more likely to resolve disputes simply by dialing 911. And police are more predisposed to just simply
arresting people rather than trying to resolve an issue or see if an issue really requires an arrest. So you see a tremendous amount of people that in other communities there wouldn’t have been the opportunity to get in crime. Things that they do would not have been treated as a crime but for the fact that that’s the way that the police handle things. And people are very- it’s very easy to dial 911 to resolve a problem.
Question: What will keep people from getting into that position?
Peter Schaffer: Well, again, I think it’s the funding programs to help addiction, education programs to stop people from becoming involved in, you know, substance abuse situations, job training. People that are working are far less likely to become involved in crime. They don’t have to take things to support themselves. So I think a lot of money would be better spent before people get into the criminal justice system than now. Now we spend the most amount of money-- and when I say we, I’m talking about government-- in building prisons to simply warehouse people and that’s why this country has more people in jail per capital than any country in the world and that’s pretty horrific.
Question: How likely is it that men and women who have spent 10 or 20 years in prison can come out productive?
Peter Schaffer: Well, I still am loathe to say that someone that’s committed a crime even if they’ve gone to prison that they’re gonna be like anyone else because they’re still individuals so I think it really depends. There’s no rehabilitation. As far as rehabilitation education, very little is spent on that. Most of the money for corrections is spent on protection and really making sure people don’t escape, don’t engage in violence with other inmates, but there’s not a lot done to see that when people get out that they won’t repeat those behaviors. But I still think it depends on the individual. If they’re coming out and they have a supportive family, they probably have a shot. If they’re coming out to nothing and they have an extensive criminal history beforehand and they’re going back to the neighborhood where they’ve gotten arrested and prosecuted over and over again, I think there’s little hope that they’re gonna turn their entire life around.
: What should be done to help these people?
Peter Schaffer: Well, I think if towards the end of people’s sentence, I know in the federal system depending on what crime you were convicted of, they release people to halfway houses and conditionally release people so they get some sort of job skills or training. There has to be something other than sitting in a cell for 20 years and then on the day that you’re scheduled to be released, they simply open the door for you and give you your clothes that you came in with. One would
hope that towards the end of sentencing, some effort is made to match that individual up with some sort of preparation for the world outside ‘cause the world- not only is it different from their experience at being incarcerated, but the world is different from when they went in.
The humanity and inhumanity behind drug laws.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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