Denying public benefits because of drug use, which the Post admits isn’t new in 2014, is gaining steam, particularly among Republican governors. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker argues that he wants to prepare welfare recipients for a labor market that will require them to be drug-free. Yet drug testing is expensive and it threatens to block benefits from needy families. Finally, the Post targets civil asset forfeiture, in which police departments use millions of dollars in assets seized from people never charged with a crime to fund purchases of everything from coffee machines to surveillance gear to military-grade weapons. The practice isn’t new, but the policy has drawn renewed criticism amid heightened scrutiny of police tactics and equipment.
The Washington Post named three criminal justice issues among the 11 “worst” policy ideas for 2014. Two of them are not new, however. Although the Post says that the drug policy landscape this year was “largely characterized by victories of common sense,” it says a handful of politicians continue to wage the Drug War like it’s 1984. Chief among them is Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), who leads a crusade against Washington, D.C.’s marijuana liberalization. The paper’s award for worst idea goes to the attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma, who are so fed up with the hassle of arresting and jailing people for possessing small amounts of weed that they’ve sued neighboring Colorado to overturn its recreational marijuana market.