Pubdate: Mon, 11 Dec 2006
Source: Poughkeepsie Journal (NY)
Copyright: 2006 Poughkeepsie Journal
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: From MAP: Yes, the newspaper's headline is the opposite of what 
the published letter stated.


Regarding your Dec. 1 editorial, mandatory minimum prison sentences
have done little other than give the "land of the free" the highest
incarceration rate in the world. The deterrent value of tough law
enforcement is grossly overrated. During the crack epidemic of the
eighties, New York City chose the zero-tolerance approach, opting to
arrest and prosecute as many offenders as possible. Meanwhile,
Washington Mayor Marion Barry was smoking crack and America's capital
had the highest per capita murder rate in the country. Yet crack use
declined in both cities simultaneously.

The decline was not due to a slick anti-drug advertising campaign or
the passage of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Simply put, the
younger generation saw firsthand what crack was doing to their older
siblings but decided for themselves that crack was bad news. This is
not to say nothing can be done about hard drugs such as crack or
methamphetamine, the latest headline grabber. Access to substance
abuse treatment is critical. Diverting resources away from prisons and
into cost-effective treatment would save both tax dollars and lives.

Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake