Pubdate: Tue, 22 Oct 2002
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)
Copyright: 2002 The Kansas City Star
Author: Robert Sharpe


Kansas City judges are to be commended for introducing much needed 
alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders (10/17, 
Metropolitan, "KC to release some jail inmates to treatment program").

With violent crime continuing along a downward trend, the drug war is the 
principal reason the U.S. 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 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 criminal 

Turning drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of tax 

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.

Robert Sharpe, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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