Pubdate: Mon, 07 Nov 2005
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2005 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Sunday's editorial about addiction and prisons, U.S.
government statistics reveal that the drug war is waged in a racist
manner throughout the nation. Blacks and whites use drugs at roughly
the same rates. Only 15 percent of the nation's drug users are black,
but blacks account for 37 percent of those arrested for drug
violations, over 42 percent of those in federal prisons for drug
violations and almost 60 percent of those in state prisons for drug
felonies. Support for the drug war would end overnight if whites were
incarcerated for drugs at the same rate as minorities.

Racially disproportionate incarceration rates are not the only cause
for alarm. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure,
joblessness, addiction and delinquency.

Incarcerating non-violent drug offenders with hardened criminals is
the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education in
anti-social behavior. 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. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is

Robert Sharpe,

policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy,

Washington, D.C.
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