Pubdate: Sat,  5 Oct 2002
Source: Herald-Dispatch, The (WV)
Copyright: 2002 The Herald-Dispatch
Author: Robert Sharpe


Family values aren't result of drug war Regarding your Sept. 30 editorial, 
"State is facing tough choices about prisons."

West Virginia is not the only state grappling with overcrowded prisons. 
Many states facing budget shortfalls are pursuing alternatives to 
incarceration for non-violent offenders.

With violent crime continuing along a downward trend, the drug war is the 
principal reason the Unites States now has the highest incarceration rate 
in the world.

A study conducted by the RAND Corp. found that every dollar invested in 
substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.46 in societal costs. There is 
far more at stake than tax dollars.

The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have us 

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 non-violent drug offenders alongside hardened criminals is 
the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education in 
criminal behavior. Turning drug users into unemployable ex-cons 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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