Pubdate: Wed, 02 Jul 2003
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2003, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: Nicolas Eyle
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Rockefeller Drug Laws)
Cited: ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy


To the Editor:

Six years ago, Syracuse city and local law enforcement officials were still 
denying the existence of gangs in Syracuse, though their graffiti "tags" 
were visible all over certain neighborhoods.

Any connection between street violence and the illegal drug trade was also 

At the same time you said, in response to a plan to build more prisons, 
"Prison cells are not the answer."

Now, more than six years later, the administration has finally accepted the 
reality of gangs and the connection between violence and drugs.

But it hasn't yet accepted that prisons are not the answer.

I am not saying violent criminals should be allowed to walk the streets, or 
that they are just poor, misunderstood addicts who need treatment. Violent 
thugs should be behind bars.

But let us not be so naive as to think that will make our streets safe for 

There is a 17,000 percent profit on cocaine from its beginning as a plant 
in South America to its sale on the streets of Syracuse. Even a small piece 
of that pie is hard to resist for a poor black kid with not much hope.

Tougher penalties won't make a dent in the long line of people waiting to 
take the places vacated by those sentenced under the RICO laws, just as 
they haven't for those sentenced under the Rockefeller drug laws.

How many more kids' deaths will Syracuse families have to endure before 
those we entrust to ensure the public safety address the real problem?

How many more millions will we spend on prisons?

How many more kids will we lose to the lure of easy money?

Isn't it time to look honestly at alternatives to this endless, expensive 
and futile drug policy?

Nicolas Eyle, executive director ReconsiDer

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