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Saki Knafo
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Saki Knafo, General Assignment Writer, has written for The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, the Believer, GQ, Details, and Publishers Weekly. His work has appeared in two anthologies, Lost and Found: Stories from New York (Mr. Beller's Neighborhood) and New York Stories: Best of the City Section. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, before every writer in America was contractually obligated to live there.
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Entries by Saki Knafo

How Pot Legalization In The U.S. Hurts Mexico's Illegal Marijuana Industry

(257) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 3:24 PM

Last week, Michele Leonhart, the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and a prominent critic of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, made headlines when she suggested that marijuana legalization efforts could create new money-making opportunities for Mexico’s illegal cannabis industry.

However much legal weed costs...

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Law Enforcement Lobby Quietly Tries To Kill Sentencing Reform

(115) Comments | Posted April 2, 2014 | 3:45 PM

WASHINGTON -- Several organizations representing state and local law enforcement are quietly trying to kill a bipartisan bill that would roll back tough mandatory sentences for people convicted of federal drug offenses under legislation passed during the height of America’s drug war three decades ago.

These groups include the National...

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Yet Another Survey Shows Americans Are Fed Up With The Drug War

(24) Comments | Posted April 2, 2014 | 1:35 PM

The drug war has cost the U.S. government about a trillion dollars over the last four decades, while leading to the imprisonment of millions of people for nonviolent drug offenses, helping make America’s incarceration rate the highest in the world.

But public policy is slowly shifting toward...

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How A Painkiller Poster Boy Turned His Life Around

(39) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 7:34 AM

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Daniel Haley, a recovering heroin addict, became a minor celebrity on Staten Island due to a rap video he made. (Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post)

The video began to go viral a little over a year ago.

Filmed on the south shore...

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Owner Of Building Destroyed By Gas Explosion Actually Went Out Of Her Way To Avoid Using Gas

(15) Comments | Posted March 13, 2014 | 7:20 PM

A gas leak almost certainly played a role in the explosion that flattened two buildings in Manhattan on Wednesday morning, killing at least seven people and injuring many more. City officials have said as much, and local residents told reporters on Wednesday that they smelled gas in the...

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Deadly New York Explosion Highlights Urgent Need To Fix City's Crumbling Gas Lines

(284) Comments | Posted March 13, 2014 | 4:07 PM

Public officials and engineers have long warned about the dangers posed by the outdated, moldering pipelines that snake beneath the streets of major cities like New York, feeding gas into the furnaces of millions of homes.

For nearly two decades, federal authorities have directed pipeline operators to

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'White Men Getting Rich From Legal Weed Won't Help Those Harmed Most By Drug War'

(96) Comments | Posted March 6, 2014 | 4:06 PM

A lot has happened in the four years since the publication of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, a landmark book that showed how the “war on drugs” and the mass incarceration of black Americans has undermined much of the progress achieved by the civil rights movement.

States around the...

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D.C. Lawmaker Is Very Excited About The Fact That He Used To Get Stoned

(2) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 4:27 PM

Washington, D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D) definitely inhaled.

Asked last month whether he had smoked pot as a kid by News2share.com, a news site run by college students at American University, he all but broke out the Grateful Dead ticket stubs.

"Ab-solutely, of course I did,"...

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Our Nation's Capital Just Took A Big Step Toward Ending Marijuana Prohibition

(49) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 1:59 PM

The D.C. Council voted 10-1 Tuesday on a bill that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana in the nation’s capital.

Under the new law, people stopped with an ounce or less of marijuana in Washington, D.C., will face a $25 fine, at most. Previously, someone caught with a...

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'I Spent 15 Years In Solitary Confinement For A Crime I Didn't Commit'

(445) Comments | Posted February 28, 2014 | 9:44 AM

Damon Thibodeaux, a former Mississippi deckhand, was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in 1997, when he was 22. He was released from Louisiana’s Angola prison in 2012, after his lawyers convinced the local district attorney that he’d been wrongly convicted. At...

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America's Top Prison Official Doesn't Know How Big A Prison Cell Is (VIDEO)

(78) Comments | Posted February 25, 2014 | 4:32 PM

WASHINGTON -- It was a tough moment for Charles Samuels, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

At a hearing on solitary confinement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon, Samuels, who has been at BOP since 1988, struggled to answer a basic question put to him...

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Major Battleground In The War On Drugs Takes A Softer Stance On Pot Convictions

(51) Comments | Posted February 22, 2014 | 10:33 AM

Prosecutors in Baltimore, a city with one of the highest rates of marijuana arrests in the United States, are softening their approach to those charged with possessing the drug, saying such convictions clog the court system and drain resources.

Last year, 4,500 people were allowed to perform community...

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The U.S. Is Locking People Up For Being Poor

(2083) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 10:21 AM

Virginia Dickerson says she’s devoted the last three years to recovering from the drug problems that entangled her in the criminal justice system throughout her teens and 20s.

Now in her mid-30s, she’s been out of prison for more than a year, working 30 hours a week as a...

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Drug Warriors Reject Obama Administration's Call For Softer Sentences

(189) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 6:30 AM

WASHINGTON -- A group of federal prosecutors is criticizing the Department of Justice’s support for legislation that would soften U.S. drug sentencing policies.

The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, an organization representing about 1,300 of the 5,600 federal prosecutors, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric...

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D.C. Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

(87) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 2:27 PM

The nation’s capital just got a step closer to loosening its marijuana laws.

Under the current law, someone caught with a joint in Washington, D.C., can be arrested and jailed for six months. But on Tuesday, the District council voted overwhelmingly for a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties...

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Senators Take Major Step Toward Ending Drug War

(228) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 1:29 PM

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee came together on Thursday morning to pass a landmark bill aimed at overhauling the federal government’s drug sentencing laws. Those laws, adopted by the U.S. at the height of the anti-drug fervor of the 1980s, have helped make the United States prison...

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The World's Largest Prison System May Finally Be Starting To Shrink: Report

(91) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 10:47 AM

The U.S. prison system, long criticized as the most bloated in the world, may be slimming down.

After decades of growth, the nation’s prison population has gradually declined over the last three years, prompting states to begin shutting down their prisons, according to a report released Thursday...

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Justice Department Recommends More Commutations For Low-Level Drug Offenders

(229) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 10:11 AM

The U.S. Justice Department is launching an effort to free some of the thousands of people who are spending their lives in prison because they were convicted of nonviolent drug offenses under tougher laws than those on the books today.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole will announce the effort at...

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First Jail Chief, Then Prisoner, Bernard Kerik Jumps Into Fight For Prison Reform

(57) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 9:50 PM

He was one of the brightest stars in law enforcement. Then a conviction for tax evasion and seven other felony charges landed him behind bars. On Wednesday evening, in his first speech as a free man since his release from a federal prison in Cumberland, Md., last spring, Bernard Kerik...

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Teen Handcuffed For Cutting In Line In School Cafeteria: Complaint

(876) Comments | Posted January 23, 2014 | 5:07 PM

In some schools, students who cut in line at the cafeteria might be scolded or sent to a guidance counselor. In Wake County, N.C., they risk getting handcuffed and thrown in jail, according to a complaint against the local school district and law-enforcement agencies filed Wednesday with the U.S. Department...

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