Pubdate: Sat, 17 Aug 2002
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2002 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspaper


Regarding the Chronicle's Aug. 10 article, "Drug dealer convicted of 
killing teenage client, sentenced to life": It took a jury less than two 
hours to sentence Nathan Neil McKinney to life in prison for the murder of 
a teenage drug user.

According to the evidence and testimony presented to the court, the 
sentence seems appropriate.

There is, however, a larger, continual tragedy when we fail to consider the 
reasons behind this and thousands of similar deaths each year -- the 
tragedy of drug prohibition.

Houston has had more than its share of prohibition-related deaths. Within 
the last year, several law enforcement officers have been shot and killed 
by drug users trying to avoid arrest.

Last summer, 15 young people died in just one weekend from heroin overdoses 
because they thought the powder was cocaine.

What our society has done through the implementation and escalation of the 
drug war is to create a huge and often violent subset of the population 
with no recourse to the law. Drug users and vendors have no legal recourse, 
having to either write off any losses or to take the law into their own hands.

Until such time that we realize the utter failure of drug prohibition, we 
are certain to reap a continual harvest of ignorance, death and destruction.

Dean Becker, community liaison, Drug Policy Forum, Houston
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