Pubdate: Tue, 28 Feb 2006
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Copyright: 2006 The Daily Iowan
Author: Gary Smith


Republican reactionaries are a peculiar lot. They decry drug abuse 
but oppose a tobacco tax. They want harsh penalties, like Rush 
Limbaugh, except for themselves. They will fund incarceration rates 
that civilized nations find barbaric, with our great-grandchildren's 
money, while cutting spending for beat cops and programs that 
actually tackle crime causes and provide alternatives. Dogma 
masquerades as purpose in public policy; if it doesn't work, just do 
much more of the same.

Now they are singing full-throated and with their usual unison 
against common-sense proposals made to the Legislature by Sheriff 
Lonny Pulkrabek. Personally, I would rather see my law-enforcement 
tax dollars used to track and incarcerate the sociopaths preying on 
our communities than stigmatizing those whose only infractions in a 
lifetime might be simple possession. To those who say that would be 
sending the wrong message, I would ask what message we send by 
criminalizing the behavior of large swaths of otherwise law-abiding, 
productive citizens? Whatever might be the message we are sending 
now, there are an awful lot of people it hasn't reached.

We've had plenty of "tough on crime," with an attendant explosion of 
fiscal and human costs, as the war on drugs has filled our jails with 
nonviolent offenders. We are way past due for some "smart on crime." 
Thank you, Sheriff Pulkrabek, for bravely articulating an intelligent 
alternative if controverted by the few.

Gary Smith

Iowa City resident 
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman