DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 178 July 22, 2000 

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 178 July 22, 2000 
Posted by FoM on July 22, 2000 at 17:10:06 PT
Sun-Times Recognize Drug War As Factor In Violence
Source: MapInc.
Editorialists at the Chicago Sun-Times have been generally restrained in their criticism of the drug war, but this week the newspaper called for a serious discussion on decriminalizing drugs. The Sun-Times is finally officially recognizing that the illegal drug market is major cause of violence."There are many options between strict enforcement of the current drug laws and decriminalization, but in order to determine whether there is a better strategy for combatting illegal drug trafficking, the pros and cons of decriminalizing drugs have to be debated in an open forum," the editorial said.
Please write a letter to the Sun-Times to support its call for an open forum, one that isn't even restricted by terms like "decriminalization." WRITE A LETTER TODAY It's not what others do it's what YOU do  PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlet if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness. CONTACT INFO: Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL) Contact: letters  ARTICLE US IL: Editorial: Dialogue Can Spur New Look At DrugsURL: Sledhead Pubdate: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL) Copyright: 2000 The Sun-Times Co. Contact: letters Address: 401 N. Wabash, Chicago IL 60611 Feedback: Website: DIALOGUE CAN SPUR NEW LOOK AT DRUGS Every so often the topic of decriminalizing drugs surfaces, only to be squashed by fears that the proposal is too controversial to merit serious discussion. In 1995, Criminal Court Judge Richard E. Neville stirred quite a debate among law enforcement officials when he advocated legalizing drugs and challenged lawmakers to have a dialogue on this issue. At the time, he and other supporters argued that removing drugs from the street trade would reduce violence. James E. Gierach, a lawyer who once ran for Cook County state's attorney, also has advocated an end to the drug war, which, according to the Human Rights Watch, has resulted in a racial disparity in sentences for drug crimes. Given that the skyrocketing prison population and the continued street violence related to gang and drug wars affect African Americans disproportionately, it is entirely fitting that a discussion of decriminalizing drugs should be on the agenda at the anti-violence summit of African American leaders that Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) has scheduled for Saturday. For a politician to express any support for legalizing drugs carries a political risk since opponents later could accuse him of being soft on crime. And to be clear, Rush is not advocating legalization; rather, he correctly observes that there should at least be discussion on the drug trade and violence. Rush also intends to take a look at the Prohibition experience to see if it is relevant to the drug issue. Indeed, now may be the right time to tackle this issue. The judicial system has softened its stance. For example, more court systems are choosing to divert those convicted on minor drug offenses to special drug courts, where they are monitored while they receive substance abuse treatment instead of being sent to prison. There are many options between strict enforcement of the current drug laws and decriminalization, but in order to determine whether there is a better strategy for combatting illegal drug trafficking, the pros and cons of decriminalizing drugs have to be debated in an open forum. Hopefully, the leadership summit can help spark this debate as participants look for ways to significantly reduce black-on-black violence. This is just one issue that will be on the agenda. Rush is to be commended for calling this meeting to address the violence continuing to plague too many neighborhoods.  SAMPLE LETTER To the editor of the Chicago Sun-Times: I was pleased to read the editorial "Dialogue Can Spur New Look At Drugs," (July 19). The fact that the black market for illegal drugs is a hotbed for violence and injustice just scratches the surface of the problems created by the war on drugs. The drug war has scaled back the Bill of Rights; the drug war prevents sick people from getting appropriate medicine; the drug war encourages corruption in law enforcement and other government agencies; the drug war is dragging our nation into another foreign civil war without an exit strategy. What good does the drug war do? It has not ended illegal drug use - levels of use generally rose in the 1990s, along with government anti-drug budgets and prison populations. It's not making drug use any more safe since drug deaths also rose in the 90s. It's easy to talk about the problems of the drug war; finding some way to defend is a much bigger challenge. Stephen Young IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone number Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide:  TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: TO UNSUBSCRIBE SEE:  Prepared by Stephen Young Focus Alert Specialist Focus Alert Archive MapInc. Archives: Articles On Decriminalization
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