Pubdate: Sat, 02 Aug 2014
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2014 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Suzanne Wills


Re: =93Lower Sentences for Drugs =AD Commission right
to offer reduced penalty,=94 Monday Editorials.

For the 50-year period spanning the 1920s to
early 1970s, there were about 110 state and
federal prisoners per 100,000 in the United States.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon created the Drug
Enforcement Administration by executive order,
thereby ushering in the modern war on drugs.
State and federal prisoners now number about 700 per 100,000.

After release, these prisoners can be legally
discriminated against for the rest of their
lives. They can be refused employment, housing,
education, government benefits and the right to vote.

Campaigning for his National Criminal Justice
Commission Act of 2010, former Sen. James Webb,
D-Va., said, =93Either we have the most evil people
in the world or we are doing something wrong with
the way we approach the issue of criminal justice.=94

Yes, we are. We imprison people who are mentally
ill or addicted to alcohol or other drugs instead
of treating them in hospitals. We imprison
African-Americans far out of proportion to their criminal activity.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission decision to make
some federal drug trafficking offenders eligible
to apply for reduced sentences is a very tiny
step toward mitigating this situation.
Nevertheless, it is a welcome step. I commend The News for supporting it.

Suzanne Wills, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Dallas
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