Waking Up To The Drug War's Failure

Waking Up To The Drug War's Failure
Posted by FoM on January 10, 2001 at 08:15:10 PT
Source: Chicago Tribune
For years, the nation has been trying to combat drug use and addiction with tough law enforcement--aggressive policing, firm prosecution, and long prison sentences. But the results have been mixed at best. And all across the country, doubts about the drug war are not only surfacing but leading to changes in policy.In November, Californians approved a ballot initiative mandating treatment instead of incarceration for those guilty of drug possession or use, something Arizonans endorsed in 1996. 
Last week, Republican Gov. George Pataki of New York moved in the same direction when he said he wants to "dramatically" reform the state's notoriously harsh drug laws, begun in the 1970s by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. In New Mexico, Republican Gov. Gary Johnson has strongly endorsed the proposals of a commission that urged an even sharper change of direction.The New York laws, though not quite the most Draconian in the country, gained public notice because they were among the first to impose long mandatory sentences for the possession or sale of relatively small amounts of hard drugs. Someone convicted of a single sale of two ounces of narcotics can get a decade or more behind bars.Those mandatory minimums--and the enormous leverage they give to prosecutors--are a big reason that New York has 21,000 inmates serving prison time for drug offenses, with the burden falling heavily on poor and minority defendants. Besides the human cost to nonviolent offenders, this policy has a fiscal bite: A recent study found that the state could save $96 million a year by being more selective in whom it locks up. Gov. Pataki and key legislative leaders all agree on the need for a less punitive approach, including expanded treatment.So does the New Mexico governor, whose commission has expanded the boundaries of the debate. Its recent report proposed eliminating all penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, making other first and second drug offenses misdemeanors that would not carry jail time, getting rid of mandatory minimums, and making it easier to sell syringes over the counter. At the same time, the panel called for spending more on education, prevention and treatment. Such measures, it said, are a more effective way to reduce drug use than incarceration.In the United States, people addicted to tobacco or alcohol are seen to be in need of therapy, not punishment. For many drug users, a similar approach offers the hope of better outcomes at lower cost. The drug law reformers in New York, New Mexico and elsewhere may not have all the answers, but they're on the right track.Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Published: January 10, 2001Copyright: 2001 Chicago Tribune CompanyAddress: 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-4066Contact: ctc-TribLetter Tribune.comWebsite: Articles:The Right Stuff - Arianna Huffington Mexico Thumbs It's Nose at The War on Drugs York Governor Calls for Drug Law Reform Articles - Governor Gary Johnson 
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Comment #4 posted by anon on January 11, 2001 at 07:40:13 PT
Use that link
Use the feedback link to tell the Trib's editors that you liked what you saw!.
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Comment #3 posted by freedom fighter on January 10, 2001 at 13:01:47 PT
Yes, I agree
with you lurker420, however, do'nt you think that if all of the editors would sign and stand by it would be much better?It is probably because the article is a two-edged sword. 
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Comment #2 posted by lurker420 on January 10, 2001 at 10:05:13 PT:
editorial authorship
unsigned editorials are generally the view of the editorial board of the particular paper. this editorial, then, is the stand of the editorial board of the chicago tribune. i'm sure that the individual members of the board are listed on the op-ed page. is it really necessary to see the particular author when i think it weighs heavier when the entire paper's editorial staff takes a stand?
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on January 10, 2001 at 08:18:20 PT:
Whoever wrote this should sign and be proud of their opinion.
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