Pubdate: Mon, 30 Apr 2001
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Section: Letters to the Editor
Copyright: 2001 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Jane Marcus


When Maryland college basketball star Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose 
in 1986, his senseless death marked the beginning of the "War on Drugs." 
Now, in remembrance of young Charity Bowers (Opinion, April 24), we can 
make her senseless death in Peru mark the end of a policy that contradicts 
the very spirit of her name.

We should demand that our government stop defining drug abuse as a crime to 
be fought with police, military, and "collateral damage" and insist that it 
start defining drug abuse as an illness to be addressed by medical and 
public health professionals. In the name of Charity, we should spend the 
billions of tax dollars wasted on prisons and ineffective interdiction on 
more cost-effective and compassionate treatment and rehabilitation.

The deeply religious families of Charity and her mother, Veronica, believe 
that God's reason for taking their loved ones will one day become clear to 
them. If people of good will open their hearts and speak their minds, a 
reason for these tragic deaths may become clear to us all.

Jane Marcus
Palo Alto
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