Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jan 2002
Source: Anniston Star (AL)
Copyright: 2002 Consolidated Publishing
Author: Mett Ausley, MD


"Anniston woman gets four life prison terms" for selling cocaine (Dec. 19, 
2001) makes me wonder if jaywalking might draw 20 years if the feds took up 
such matters. Do bigger traffickers in L.A. or Medellin get 50 life 
sentences when caught? Near my home the erstwhile "drug lord" of Hallsboro 
N.C. (pop. 646) got but one life term, federal authorities evidently 
disposed to leniency upon seizing a decrepit trailer home and barn.

Compelling efficacy might justify such sentences, but Nelllie Patton's 
transactions speak equally for public cocaine appetite as her 
entrepreneurship. Demand and profit untouched by one "kingpin's" removal, 
counterparts instantly substitute like water finding its level. Two decades 
of "get tough" has filled prisons without curbing drug use, notwithstanding 
bureaucrats' quibbling over statistical flux. Unreasonable sentences, 
lopsided poor-nonwhite impact and systematic East German-style snitching 
prompt many to ask if the drug war is corrupting our sense of justice.

It's time to overcome denial, admit failure and pursue rational approaches 
to this quirk of human nature.

Mett Ausley, M.D., Lake Waccamaw, N.C.
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