"For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth." --Lysander Spooner, 1875
Matt McCally was offered what he considered the ideal job some years ago: probation officer with the Washington State Department of Corrections. "I thought I was going to have it all -- a responsible position with a respected department supervising high-risk offenders at an office only a few blocks from my home." Nevertheless, Matt had a nagging doubt about the rules concerning drug users. At the district court probation office where he worked, the emphasis was on diversion. The judges Matt assisted wanted drug violators to be employed and in treatment -- not in jail -- but the DOC had different expectations. The more he talked to veteran officers, the clearer it became to him that a major part of the new job would be urine testing probationers and reporting the recidivists. He would have had to return people to prison for nothing worse than smoking a joint.
That realization was a turning point for Matt. He could no longer fool himself about the War on Drugs. "Because of it, I was no longer a corrections officer protecting the community from potentially dangerous felons; instead, I was some kind of glorified hall monitor, turning in the bad boys and girls caught smoking in the bathroom. It was a waste of my effort and the taxpayers' money." So, despite six years experience in probation, several letters of commendation, and hopes for a career in criminal justice, he simultaneously refused the new position and quit his old one.
Matt attended Waseda University in Tokyo, where he studied the Japanese criminal justice system. He later earned a BA from Regents College while on active duty in the Army. After being honorably discharged, he moved to Seattle to study law at the University of Washington. In 1999, he was graduated from the Des Moines (WA) Police Department's Reserve Officer Academy. He has served for the past several years as an academician: first as an instructor of history and legal studies at a junior college, then as an admissions counselor at a private university.
A seasoned political activist, Matt has been involved in drug policy reform on various fronts: as a volunteer with local and state ballot initiatives, as the one-time host of a talk radio program on KVI 570 in Seattle, as the press spokesman for several candidates for elected office, and as the former chairman of the Libertarian Party of Washington State. He currently writes a bi-weekly column on politics and public policy for the Federal Way (WA) Mirror.