Pubdate: Wed, 07 May 2003
Source: Savannah Morning News (GA)
Copyright: 2003 Savannah Morning News
Author: Penny Salater
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


I guess I've seen more of my generation killed or murdered, addicted and 
imprisoned than the three generations before mine. Prior to the baby 
boomers, people actually lived long lives. However, now our prisons and 
graveyards are filled with America's children.

Our justice system depends on whether you're a movie star or a street 
person. The prosecutor has total immunity to make deals with low-lifes as 
long as it's called plea bargaining.

We have lost the war on drugs, the war of American against American. Prison 
has proven to be an ineffective option and taxpayers are weary of its hefty 
price tag.

The cost to taxpayers for arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning people for 
simple possession is between $7.5 billion and $10 billion annually, 
according to the National Criminal Justice Commission.

So why are we still treating drug users as criminals instead of seeing them 
as a public health crisis? Money, why else? Prisons bring jobs, growth and 
more federal funding. It doesn't matter if prisoners can't vote, they're 
only numbers.

Prohibition creates huge profits as well. The war on drugs has created the 
kind of found cash that corrupts governments. And never mind how organized 
crime profits from the insane war on addicts.

We have a health crisis in this country and we need prison and court 
reform. We need to turn our prisons into treatment centers. Addicts are 
people, too. They need our help, not our jails. Let's stop the war at home 
on our own citizens.

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