Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jun 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
Author: Kathleen Riddle and Robert Heimer


To the Editor:
"Drug Laws That Misfired" (editorial, June 5), lamenting the failure of New
York's Rockefeller drug laws, did not mention one salient point.

If New York had used the $4 billion spent on prison construction over
the last 20 years to treat people for their substance abuse problems
instead of jailing them, there would be substantially less addiction

Eighty percent of the women who have been imprisoned are mothers
separated from their children. Many have been sent away for years for
crimes no greater than possession of a controlled substance.

The result of a rising female prison population is children growing up
without mothers, contributing to a circle of dysfunction in society.

Instead of imprisoning these women, we should place them in treatment
programs and reunite them with their children.

Staten Island, June 7, 2000

The writer is president of the Association of Alcoholism and Substance
Abuse Providers of New York State.

To the Editor:

Your June 5 editorial "Drug Laws That Misfired" states that the
draconian drug laws enacted in New York in the 1970's failed to cut
drug trafficking or drug addiction while filling state prisons with
nonviolent offenders. It should be added to this list that these laws
failed to make illegal drugs harder to obtain.

In fact, it appears that the opposite has occurred. According to the
Drug Enforcement Administration, the cost of heroin on the streets of
New York City decreased between 1988 and 1995. In 1988, $100 could buy
107 milligrams of pure heroin; by 1995, $100 could buy 318 milligrams.

It should be clear from these data that spending huge sums to pursue
policies of supply reduction and incarceration have done nothing to
keep heroin from being readily available and, it seems, cheap.

New Haven, June 6, 2000

The writer is an associate professor, department of epidemiology and
public health, Yale School of Medicine. 
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