Pubdate: Wed, 31 May 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company
Contact:  229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 556-3622
Section: Letters
Author: David C. Levin


To the Editor:
Re "Drug Laws That Destroy Lives" (editorial, May 24): A disgraceful
unintended consequence of locking up thousands of non-dangerous drug addicts
is that more than 94 percent of those sent to prison for drug crimes are
people of color. This is so despite the fact that members of minority groups
use drugs in about the same proportion as white people.

Our drug laws have also had a disastrous effect on women and children.
About 70 percent of women entering our prisons are drug offenders, a
large majority of whom have never been convicted of or even arrested
for a violent felony.

Judicial discretion must be restored in our drug laws so that in
appropriate cases drug abusers can be diverted to cost-effective
treatment programs and low-level sellers can take part in community

DAVID C. LEVEN New York, May 25, 2000 The writer is deputy director of
the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy group.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Allan Wilkinson