Pubdate: Mon, 6 Jul 2009
Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2009 News-Journal Corporation
Author: James Leake


The News-Journal's editorial on crowded prisons was pretty much
correct in all points except it misses the real point. Prison
crowding, new prison construction, politicians whining that they need
to raise taxes are but a symptom of the real problem. As a society and
with each individual, how we define a problem sets the stage regarding
what approaches, strategies etc. are brought to bear as solutions.
Declaring a war on drugs seemed like the right thing to do 40 years
ago. Today, we must, unfortunately, wave a flag of truce since we now
know users need treatment, and the war has been a complete and utter

This war has spawned many industries that take more and more of our
tax dollars. Prison building, both private, state and federal,
correctional staff increases, law enforcement at all levels of
government, and related new technologies are the result of this war.

On the human side, it is estimated that upward of 80 percent of all
inmates in the criminal justice system are there because of drugs.
There always seems to be a new drug coming down the pike to be abused
based on availability, fads etc. The experiments in Europe have not
created a rash of new addicts, but they have controlled the problem
effectively by decriminalizing this modern phenomenon. Let's have
rational debate defining this problem and spend more dollars in
voluntary, effective treatment programs. Those who choose to continue
unregulated drug use hopefully will live long enough to seek treatment
as suffering individuals and not through coercion as newly minted criminals.

James Leake, Edgewater
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake