Pubdate: Thu, 04 Jan 2001
Source: Houston Press (TX)
Copyright: 2001 New Times, Inc.
Contact:  1621 Milam Ste. 100,  Houston, TX 77002
Authors: Vincent Mancuso and Redford Givens


Rehab rather than jail: I wish to commend you on a true and realistic 
account of the way things happen with regard to drug addicts ["Tough on 
Drugs," by Margaret Downing, December 14]. I'm one of the people that has 
spent, off and on, the last ten years in and out of jails, treatment 
programs, halfway houses and prison. I've been in the Harris County jail 
since September 1999 for possession of cocaine.

I live a vicious cycle. I get out of jail, and everything falls into place 
like any normal person's life. I get a good job, a place to live, a 
girlfriend and all the other things associated with a sober life. You see, 
my life doesn't have to be going in a bad direction or having any kind of 
trouble for me to use drugs. It's when my life is going great that the 
demon in me becomes uncontrollable, and in a matter of days I lose 
everything I've worked so hard for.

Yes. I've lied, stolen, cheated and anything else you can imagine because 
of drugs. I keep hoping it's something I'm going to grow out of, but my 
addiction lies dormant during my incarceration. They say that while you're 
locked up your addiction is doing push-ups and working out so when the 
chains are removed it's stronger than ever.

I wish more judges were like Krocker. However, most don't believe in 
treatment, they believe in prison. I'm being considered for parole, which 
means maybe I'm to start the cycle one last time. There are no more 
chances. Either I stay straight, or next time I'm going to spend the rest 
of my life in prison. I'm hoping this time I don't become a product of the 
great state of Texas's judicial system like many before me. I truly enjoy 
the Houston Press for its real issues with real people.

Vincent Mancuso

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It's long past time to pretend that drug prohibition is doing anything 
worthwhile about drug addiction. Especially when drug users are usually 
able to function quite well when they are left to tend their own business. 
Nearly all of the harm to drug users comes from an illiterate drug policy 
invented in a horse-and-buggy era by people who believed phrenology was a 
sure test of intelligence and moral integrity.

America's lunatic drug crusaders claim the sky will fall if we legalize 
drugs, but they cannot explain why no one was robbing, whoring and 
murdering over drugs when addicts could buy all of the heroin, cocaine, 
morphine, opium and anything else they wanted cheaply and legally at the 
corner pharmacy. When drugs were legal, addicts held regular employment, 
raised decent families and were indistinguishable from their teetotaling 

We now have prisons overflowing with drug users, and hundreds of thousands 
of shattered families. The addiction rate is now five times greater than 
when we had no laws at all, and 17-year-olds are the fastest-growing group 
of heroin users. So much for getting tough on drugs.

It's time to relegate America's misguided drug policy to the same oblivion 
that alcohol prohibition was consigned to when we finally admitted the 
noble experiment could never work.

Redford Givens
San Francisco, California
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