Traditionally, criminal proceedings are directed against past behavior. A failed drug patient, however, can be prosecuted because authorities are dissatisfied with prospects for the person’s future behavior. When a regime imprisons citizens because of what they might do someday, the regime is following the Nazi concept of civic duty.
Formerly, civil commitment was rare. Formerly, it nurtured incapacitated citizens if they needed medical help. Civic duty has transformed civil commitment into a method of imprisoning citizens convicted of no crime. In the transcript of one civil commitment proceeding, I counted only 500 words; a single sheet of paper could hold the facts and discussion of them among the committed person, the person’s spouse, a police matron, a public defender, a prosecutor, and the judge (who used profanity while issuing the commitment order).
Participants at a 1985 White House-endorsed drug war conference said such hearings placed too great a burden on prosecutors and called for the process to be expedited and used more often. A senior speaker at the same conference also said that a single unconfirmed drug-positive urine test should be enough grounds for civil commitment.
The statistical principle expressed by Bayes’s theorem shows that the number of innocent persons falsely accused will soar if drug use is low in a population. Suppose 0.5 percent of a population uses heroin, and the urine test is 98 percent accurate. In 10,000 tests there will be 49 true positives and 199 false positives—the vast majority of positives are false even though the test is 98 percent accurate. Moreover, a confirmed drug-positive urine test fails to demonstrate drug use. Even Georgia’s supreme court has admitted that someone who does not use cocaine can have a positive urine test if the person has been breathing near a cocaine smoker. The same holds true for breathing near a marijuana smoker.
(Taken from Drug Warriors & Their Prey—From Police Power to Police)