Pubdate: Thu, 15 Aug 2002
Source: Beaver County Times, The (PA)
Copyright: 2002 Beaver County Times/Allegheny Times
Author: Redford Givens


In regard to Tuesday's editorial "Drug Wars":

If The Times truly believes "locking up low-level drug dealers and users 
has led to many victories in the war against crime," it's time for brain 
scans all around.

If these "low-level victories" are actually winning the war on drugs, why 
has the drug budget grown every year since President Nixon declared 
"all-out war on drugs" in 1972. At that time, 16.9 percent of federal 
prisoners were doing time for drugs. By 2000, 56.9 percent of federal 
inmates were in for drugs. Currently, more than 1.5 million people are 
arrested for drugs every year, half of them for "low-level" marijuana 

In Pennsylvania, "low-level victories" against drug dealers and users 
increased the inmate population for drug offenses more than 300 percent 
from 1989 to 1999.

Mandatory drug sentences passed during this period dramatically increased 
amount of time "low-level" drug "criminals" served.

Never mind that a Rand study found that treatment would be 15 times more 
effective in reducing serious crime than longer prison terms. Brain-dead 
drug warriors insist on pursuing a strategy of "low-level" victories.

The "low-level victories" of drug prohibition are working so well that 
heroin and cocaine are cheaper, purer and more widely available than before 
the drug warriors began.

It's worth remembering that Elliot Ness (another believer in "low- level 
victories") and the revenuers never put the booze barons out of business. 
Repeal and a regulated market for adult alcohol use ended the bootleg era.

Regulation works for alcohol and regulation will work for drugs.

Prohibition, on the other hand, has never worked for anything, anywhere, 

Redford Givens, San Francisco
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager