Pubdate: Fri, 20 Oct 2000
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Los Angeles Times
Contact:  Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Fax: (213) 237-7679
Authors: Jerry Parsons, Jake Clark, Bill Delaney
Bookmark: For Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act items:

Re "Martin Sheen Backs 'Ball Bat' to Help Druggies," by George Skelton, 
Oct. 16: Martin Sheen may know a thing or two about acting, and he may know 
a thing or two about addiction, but he sure doesn't know anything about the 
dynamics of a black market. He decries the possible legalization of drugs 
by saying this will make them more available to kids, but every scintilla 
of evidence we possess indicates the opposite is true due to the dynamics 
of the black market.

Let's look at the examples of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and prescription 
drugs. All of these items can be purchased legally, but with tight 
restrictions on who can buy them and where they can be sold. Very few black 
market sources for these items exist when compared to the virtually 
unlimited black markets for illegal drugs. With alcohol we even have the 
lessons of Prohibition to call on, an era in which the violent marketing of 
illegal booze is the stuff of legends.

So, Mr. Sheen, if you truly want to keep drugs out of the hands of 
children, you will begin following the teachings of history and push for an 
immediate decriminalization of drug consumption for consenting adults.


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If I understood your Oct. 15 editorial, you suggest that crime has had a 
major drop across the nation, so we should now focus on rehabilitation and 
stronger gun laws for all citizens plus different laws for drugs. Why not 
focus on what has arguably gotten us where we are today--even stronger 
sentences for all crimes--especially those that involve the use of a gun? 
How about a two-strike penalty?

Most of the experts lament the number of people that we have in jail. Can 
there really be a denial that there might be a correlation between more 
criminals in jail and less crime on the streets? Sure, there are other 
factors to consider, but the math is undeniable--plus-one in jail equals 
minus-one on the streets. Let's make rehabilitation a separate issue--after 
our streets are even safer.

JAKE CLARK Redondo Beach

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Re your editorial and Skelton's column: The federal mandatory sentencing 
guidelines' impact in the 1990s gave the U.S. the world's highest 
incarceration rate and 2 million in jail/prison, many for nonviolent drug 

Hopefully, California voters realize the individual and social consequences 
of the above can be mitigated by the passage of Prop. 36, as well as voting 
either Green or Libertarian (both parties' presidential candidates calling 
for an end to the political war on drugs). Alcohol, communism, drugs; 
what's next?

BILL DELANEY Twentynine Palms 
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