Pubdate: Mon, 16 Sep 2002
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2002 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Ohio Campaign for New Drug Policies)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


According to the Sept. 2 article "Many Ohioans back drug proposal," a 
Dispatch poll found that Ohioans are leaning in favor of State Issue 1. 
Ohio is on the cutting edge of the nationwide trend toward treatment 
instead of incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders.

At an annual cost of roughly $25,000 per year, prison cells are hardly 
ideal health interventions. There is far more at stake than tax dollars. 
The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have us 
believe. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, 
joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Not only do the children lose out 
but society as a whole does, too.

Incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders alongside hardened criminals is the 
equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education in 
anti-social behavior. Turning drug users into unemployable ex-convicts is a 
senseless waste of tax dollars. It's time to declare peace in the failed 
drug war and begin treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the 
public-health problem it is. Destroying the futures and families of 
citizens who make unhealthy choices doesn't benefit anyone.

ROBERT SHARPE, Program officer

Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager