Pubdate: Thu, 28 Mar 2002
Source: Beacon Journal, The (OH)
Copyright: 2002 The Beacon Journal Publishing Co.
Author: Jim White


In her Feb. 28 letter headlined "Drug court is doing the job," Judge 
Elinore Marsh Stormer almost hit the nail on the head when she wrote: 
"Treatment works, but for those who commit crimes it works best under court 
supervision.... Those who do not commit crimes don't need us."

Drug use itself shouldn't be a crime at all. The narrow-minded view that 
all use equals addiction is wrong. Only a small fraction of users become 
addicts, and a smaller number resort to criminal activity to support their 

In countries like Great Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland, where 
maintenance programs have been instituted, street crimes associated with 
drug addicts dropped significantly. Simply giving addicts their drugs stops 
the crime; treatment can then begin, and -- contrary to popular belief in 
the United States -- a big stick is not necessary.

Ironically, the same threat of incarceration Judge Stormer uses to keep 
addicts in treatment programs also keeps many addicts from seeking help in 
the first place. We need to stop treating all drug use as a crime and start 
providing treatment on request for those who become addicted rather than 
forcing them into back alleys where crime is the only way to support an 

Jim White Oregon
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