Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jul 2002
Source: Alibi (NM)
Copyright: 2002 Weekly Alibi
Author: Kevin Killough


Dear Alibi,

Jerry Bock did a fine job at demonstrating gross ignorance, which seems to 
afflict every drug warrior in this country.

You can tell from the text of his letter that he doesn't understand the law 
of supply and demand.

As most everyone knows, it is the war on drugs that makes dealing so 
incredibly profitable. Bock exhibits that drug warrior one-track thinking 
that says the only way to deal with drug abuse is to incarcerate millions 
of people.

Never mind the immense social and financial costs of locking up all those 

He actually thinks that if we build enough prisons, we will make this 
country a better place, as if we haven't tried that approach already.

Since 1980, the number of drug prisoners has increased sevenfold. There are 
six times more people behind bars in this country than all 12 countries 
that make up the European Union combined, even though they have 100 million 
more citizens than we do. About 400,000 people are incarcerated for drug 
offenses in the United States. This is more people than are incarcerated in 
England, France, Germany and Japan for all crimes combined.

The state of California alone has more people incarcerated than do France, 
Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the Netherlands combined, even 
though California has only about one-tenth of their total combined 
populations. The United States, with only 5 percent of the world's 
population, has 25 percent of its prison population.

Over a million arrests are made every year for drug offenses.

Three-quarters of those arrests are for marijuana.

Eighty-seven percent of marijuana arrests are for possession, not dealing.

The total number of marijuana arrests alone is greater than the arrests for 
all murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults combined.

Bock seems to think that it is perfectly acceptable to focus so much of our 
limited law enforcement resources on non-violent drug offenses.

Where are the cops when you need them? They're out busting some poor guy 
for having a joint.

And are drugs such a menace that these incarceration rates are necessary? 
NIDA research monographs show that cocaine and heroin kill about 4,400 
people every year. Marijuana has yet to cause a single death. This is 
compared to 440,000 deaths from tobacco and 80,000 from alcohol. Aspirin 
even kills about 2,000 people annually.

If the war on drugs has any validity whatsoever, why are the most dangerous 
substances the legal ones? The financial and social costs of this psychotic 
drug policy are staggering. The cost to incarcerate one dealer for five 
years, including interdiction, surveillance, arrest, conviction, and prison 
construction costs, is about $450,000. The same amount of money can provide 
treatment for about 200 addicts.

According to a 1994 RAND Corporation study, treatment is 10 times more 
effective than interdiction in reducing the use of cocaine in the United 
States. When people are thrown in prison, they will never again be 
productive citizens. They will never hold good jobs, pay taxes, or be able 
to care for their children.

Their best hope for a livable income is selling drugs and creating more 

Bock apparently thinks this is a wonderful plan.

There is not one shred of evidence to show that prisons reduce drug use. 
Every untreated addict in prison is hundreds of thousands of taxpayer 
dollars down the drain.

It's illogical, destructive, immoral and downright evil to destroy so many 
salvageable lives.

We need a sane, compassionate, and effective drug policy, not more of the 
same shortsighted crap that is the war on drugs.

Kevin Killough
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