Pubdate: Tue, 02 Aug 2011
Source: News Tribune, The (Tacoma, WA)
Copyright: 2011 Tacoma News, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Leonard Pitts' July 31 column, support for the drug war
would end overnight if whites were incarcerated for drug offenses at
the same rate as minorities. Racially disproportionate incarceration
rates are not the only cause for alarm. Children of inmates are at
risk of educational failure, joblessness, addiction and delinquency.
Incarcerating non-violent drug offenders with hardened criminals is
the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education in
anti-social behavior.

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. Thanks to public education efforts, legal tobacco use has
steadily declined, without any need to criminalize smokers. Mandatory
minimum prison sentences, civil asset forfeiture, random drug testing
and racial profiling are not the most cost-effective means of
discouraging unhealthy choices.

Robert Sharpe, Arlington, Va.

(Sharpe is a policy analyst with Common Sense for Drug Policy.)
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