Pubdate: Thu, 08 May 1997
Source: Oregonian (OR)
Author: Joanna Wools

Prison isn't best remedy for those who use drugs

Just because something is dangerous does not automatically mean that the
best approach to those dangers is to throw millions of people in prison. We
all know that tobacco, alcohol and AIDS are hazardous to your health. But
prison is not the best public policy for those hazards. Prison, in fact,
would be a terrible mistake.

It is the same principle with illegal drugs. We can assume that drugs are
dangerous. That is not the question. The question is: What is the best
public policy for those dangers?

On this question, every major study of drug policy has agreed that,
the dangers may be, prison is the wrong approach. These studies recommend
decriminalization because of those dangers, and because prison is the worst
approach. Bigger prisons do not equal better public health policy.

Joanna Wools

Grand Coulee, Wash.