Pubdate: Wed, 27 Feb 2002
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)
Copyright: 2002 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Editor, the News-Sentinel:

I have to wonder if the irony of providing boxing matches for inmates who 
pass drug tests was lost on (Cocke County) Chief Deputy Pat Taylor. The 
fact that the drug war cannot keep drugs out of prisons, much less schools, 
is indicative of its inherent failure.

Boxing, which has been known to result in deaths, is far more dangerous 
than many drugs. The most popular illicit drug is marijuana, a relatively 
harmless plant that has never been shown to cause an overdose death.

Putting drug users in drug-filled prisons is no solution. The drug war's 
burden on taxpayers grows every year as ever more drug offenders are 
incarcerated for consensual vices. Drug use continues unabated as new 
dealers step in to reap inflated illicit market profits.

Providing cost-effective drug treatment instead of incarceration would do 
more than save money. Prisons transmit violent habits, especially those 
that encourage boxing. Most nonviolent drug offenders are eventually 
released, with dismal job prospects due to criminal records. Turning 
recreational drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a very real threat to 
public safety.

At present there is a glaring double standard in place. Alcohol and tobacco 
are by far the deadliest recreational drugs, yet the government does not go 
out of its way to destroy the lives of drinkers and smokers.

Imagine if every alcoholic were thrown in jail and given a permanent 
criminal record. How many lives would be destroyed? How many families would 
be torn apart? How many tax dollars would be wasted turning potentially 
productive members of society into hardened criminals?

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.,

Program Officer,

Drug Policy Alliance,

Washington, D.C.
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