Pubdate: Thu, 03 Aug 2006
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2006 Newsday Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Anthony Papa's thoughtful article, "The state should target
the real drug kingpins" [Opinion, July 26], the much-hyped reform of
New York's Rockefeller drug laws is merely a step in the right
direction. The incremental changes under way will still put far too
many nonviolent drug offenders behind bars. The drug war is not the
promoter of family values that some would have us believe.

Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, joblessness,
addiction and delinquency. Not only do the children lose out, but
society as a whole does, too. Incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders
alongside hardened criminals is the equivalent of providing them with
a taxpayer-funded education in criminal behavior.

Turning drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of
tax dollars. 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. Destroying the futures and families of citizens
who make unhealthy choices doesn't benefit anyone.

Robert Sharpe

Editor's note: The writer is a policy analyst for Common Sense for
Drug Policy, Washington, D.C.

Arlington, Va.
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