Pubdate: Thu, 18 Feb 1999
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Mercury Center
Author: Joseph D. McNamara


JOANNE Jacobs (Opinion, Feb. 11) deftly points out the holes in the federal
government's drug war policies.

I have spent most of my time since retiring as San Jose police chief in 1991
analyzing the war on drugs. As Jacobs points out, the tragedy of doing more
of what has not worked is that we neglect approaches like treatment that
have reduced drug use.

Federal drug policy has had the consequence of placing thriving violent
criminal industries in inner cities where minority youth lacking in
opportunities for legitimate careers are lured into drug dealing. It also
creates levels of violence in these communities that make life hell for
innocent people and drive out businesses which produce jobs.

Most damaging of all, federal policies have created a state of war between
the police and minority males. Arrest and incarceration have fallen unfairly
upon minorities, with the result that every third African-American male has
a criminal record. Latino males do not fare much better.

Jail and drug records destroy their ability to get jobs and lead productive
lives. It plays havoc with family life and is creating an ``enemy'' class. A
policy of whites against minorities makes victims of all Americans.

Joseph D. McNamara, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

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