Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chicago Criminal lawyer comments on the great failed U.S. War

Tonight, I was at a holiday party. Loads of camarderie and lots of talk of tight lines & mammoth-sized brook, brown, golden, and rainbow trout. One of the gents asked me what I thought about the War on Drugs.

It's been one of the biggest failures of U.S. policy both domestic and international. It's no different than the failed Prohibition movement on alcohol.

Drugs are no different than any other product. There is a market for them, just like there's a market for alcohol and cigarettes. That means there will continue to be people buying and selling drugs. Given that the pervasive nature of drug usage has not significantly diminished, what else can we do? Do we really want taxpayers to house drug addicts and users in prison? What about the desire to earn a living and the desperation required to sell drugs? Say what you will but you won't find too many lazy drug dealers. It's not called hustling for nothing. Can't we think of anything else aside from imprisoning people clearly willing to work hard to earn a living?

Perhaps it is time to completely re-evaluate the penalization of this failed crusade.

Rep. John Boozman of Arkansas, a staunch drug-court supporter, attributes the growing congressional support to better education about the benefits of drug courts and to concern about drug-related crime. "I'm a guy who watches the dollars, but in the long run I could argue that if we spend in this regard, it will save a lot more money down the line. That's a good deal for the taxpayers, society, and the families [of these offenders]," he says.

Experts say the current economy is a factor as well. The new funds, if passed, could be particularly appealing to states that are dealing with substantial prison overcrowding and those looking to close treatment funding gaps.

And, bit by bit, the public is becocoming more aware of drug courts, too. An anti-meth campaign launched by the Office of National Drug Control Policy last month featured a Missouri drug-court graduate named Josh. Even Texas, a state traditionally associated with being harsh on crime, has 78 drug courts, according to the NADCP.

"The state of our economy and the increasing rate of prison overcrowding have placed a heavy burden on our state and local prison systems," said Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking minority member of Mikulski's committee. "Funding the drug court program offers these entities an effective alternative."

Drug courts address one side of the issue, the customer/addict. It's only a matter of time before we get the gumption to address the other sider, the seller/dealer. I suspect decriminalization of some drugs will come soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment