The Spanish government has rejected the reprieve of David Reboredo, a former heroin user who stopped using drugs more than three years ago. His offences were no other than giving to two friends in two different occasions half a gram of heroin. The total amount of the offences was no more than €96 and David denies any sort of dealing. He simply went to score and shared the drug with his friends. However, the police without any witnesses argued otherwise and charged him with supplying.
David is a very well known activist in Vigo, his hometown. He collaborates with 12 NGOs including anti-aids self-help groups and different pro-rehabilitation and antidrug projects. He is also involved with the third regional political party. Although he has not used heroin for more than three years he started his rehabilitation in 1999 when he was sentenced to a month in prison. There he was introduced to methadone and had a few relapses after that. One of them coincided with his first arrest, but because he was determined to change his life and committed to a more serious treatment he was let off by the authorities. On another occasion he was not that lucky and the court sentenced him again adding the charges of the previous offence. He is now facing a seven years sentence and he will transfer to prison tonight.
According to David, who is now 42, the paradox of his situation is that he is going to end up in prison for a mere half a gram after more than 23 years of drug use when he had not used for over three. In addition the stupidity of his incarceration means that all the good he has done to himself and to society will be put on hold for something that occurred many years ago. David is now a different person, he has not committed a major crime and he is happy helping other people. Seven years of prison can deteriorate his fragile health and caused him serious psychological problems because a person in recovery does not think like a drug user. He is a person who has overcome his problems and does not deserve imprisonment mainly because prisons are places where drugs are all around and inviting people to escape confinement.
From that point of view the Spanish government has failed to defend the human rights of a vulnerable person and instigated a very hard core and right wing attitude of being tough on drug users without thinking about the consequences. It seems that the message given by the authorities is that drug users trying to re-build often shattered lives do not deserve any consideration. That no matter what they have a past to be ashamed of and that they need to be punished for it. Sending David back to prison is in reality a moral condemnation of his previous lifestyle and a remainder that he would never be a valuable member of society despite all his efforts. This idea comes very handy if we take into consideration that only a few weeks ago the Spanish government reprieved five police officers accused of brutality. On that occasion the detainee despite being the victim ended it up as a criminal and the police who were the real offenders became the heroes who restored public order.
These two examples should be enough to show the dangers of the popular policies which dignify police interventions at all cost and vilify all those who are against their sense of law and order. David’s story is like biblical tale of condemn with the Spanish Minister of Justice playing the role of a very vindictive god who will never forget those who disturbed him. By doing this he will perpetuate the idea of a hell in earth to which all the bad citizens will be sent disregarding the supposed mercy attached to any figure which holds a senior public office. And because David has been exiled to that very especial hell called prison singing 'Sympathy for the Devil' is all we can do now in his honour.