Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jun 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Tony Newman


To the Editor:

Emily Brady's Street Level column about the drug dealing at a Kennedy
Fried Chicken in the Bronx ("A Corner Once Sunny, Made Dreary by
Drugs," June 3) was disturbing and depressing. It is disturbing that
the mother featured in the column is afraid for her children's safety
while they eat their meal. It is depressing because the current
strategies employed by our country to address the drug-dealing
problems are destined to fail.

The conventional wisdom is to call for more police to crack down on
the drug dealers and send them away to prison for many years. The
problem is that we have tried this failing strategy for 30-plus years,
starting with the Rockefeller drug laws. These draconian laws have not
delivered on their promise to rid our streets of drugs or keep people
from using them.

A more difficult but effective strategy would be to create decent
paying jobs for those youth in the Bronx who are selling drugs, and to
offer treatment instead of jail for those struggling with addiction.
When half of the adult black males in New York don't have jobs and
there are long waiting lists at treatment centers, we are destined to
have "once sunny" corners turned into dangerous and "dreary" places.

Tony Newman


The writer is communications director, Drug Policy Alliance.
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