Pubdate: Sun, 26 Nov 2000
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2000, Syracuse Post-Standard
Contact:  P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse, N.Y. 13221-4915
Author: Larry Seguin


To the Editor:

I agree with your editorial that New York is wasting millions of dollars
incarcerating drug users. ("Fix Drug Laws," Nov. 21). I fail to see what
will be gained by rehabilitation instead of prison. Still there will be the
arrest, court, conviction, fines, etc. Is rehabilitation needed for every

According to Joel Brown of the center for Educational Research and
Development less than 10 percent of people who enter treatment actually have
a problem.

With alcohol, we know not every user needs rehabilitation. If that were the
case with alcohol, we would have over 70 million people in rehabilitation.

Fixing drug laws is going to be very difficult. Drug laws are about
political power at every level - from local mayoral and chief-of-police
campaigns and posturing to national party political jockeying. Prohibition
is one the principal tools.

The prison industry has become a Wall Street darling. The growth of the
industry has been astounding. According to Justice Department figures, state
and federal prison capacity increased by 41 percent in the five years
through 1995, with 213 new prisons being built.

The drug-testing industry is now big business. The weapons industry is
making significant profit as more and more arms, planes and helicopters are
supplied to nations far and wide for their drug war cooperation. In the case
of medical uses of marijuana, pharmaceutical houses stand to lose
significant revenue.

Drug prohibition is certainly a mechanism of social control and is a fanatic
pursuit to cleanse America of its "un-American" elements. The forfeiture of
bank accounts, real estate and vehicles has become a national scandal in the
U.S. enforcement agencies, from the local police on up to the DEA and the
Justice Department itself. They now depend on such revenues, making reform
next to impossible.

Larry Seguin- Lisbon , NY
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