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, whatever 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.