Pubdate: Mon, 08 Aug 2011
Source: Lewiston Sun Journal (ME)
Copyright: 2011 Lewiston Sun Journal
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. But 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 nonviolent drug offenders
with hardened criminals is the equivalent of providing them with a
taxpayer-funded education in antisocial 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, policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy, Arlington, Va.
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