Pubdate: Thu, 10 Oct 2002
Source: Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper, AL)
Copyright: 2002 Daily Mountain Eagle
Author: Robert Sharpe


I Find It Hard To Understand This Decision

Regarding Jerome Wassmann's thoughtful October 2 op-ed, I don't think 
anyone is going to argue that Noelle Bush would benefit from a lengthy 
mandatory minimum prison sentence for possession of crack cocaine. While I 
can sympathize with the Bush family's ongoing troubles with substance 
abuse, Florida Governor Jeb Bush's opposition to the state's short-lived 
treatment instead of incarceration ballot initiative is hypocritical to say 
the least. If treatment works for the Bushes, why not apply the same 
standard to Americans from less influential families?

A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that every additional 
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 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 non-violent drug offenders along side hardened criminals is 
the equivalent of providing them a taxpayer-funded education in anti-social 
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, M.P.A.

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, DC
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