Pubdate: Fri, 03 Mar 2000
Date: 03/03/2000
Source: Herald & Review (IL)
Author: Keith Brilhart

In reading the article, "Police benefit from drug funds," in the Feb.
21 Herald & Review, I was struck by the overall tone of near joy in
the article.  As I thought more about it, I was troubled by other aspects.

The idea behind drug forteiture is to take the profit out of drug
manufacture or distribution, with the ultimate goal of stopping
illegal drug use.  The article doesn't say anything about how
effective forfeiture has been.  However, Douglas County State's
Attorney Diane Sipich is quoted at the end of the article saying
"We've seen an increase in the drug crimes, and most police
departments are well aware of what signs to look for." These are not
words that suggest the policing and the forfeitures are achieving as
intended. After all, they've been at it for 30 years or so.

When are we going to convince our legislators that the war on drugs is
an ill-conceived failure? Prohibiting something merely pushes it
underground, giving organized crime a monopoly on its production and
distribution.  None of these people have children's welfare at heart.
If they did, they'd realize that regulated distribution of the risky
things people continue to want is the only way to have any control and
to protect young people.  I suppose the dealers love
prohibition...after all, it increases their profits.

As for giving police some bounty for a successful hunt, it just
increases their identification with the cause of prohibition (even
without forfeiture, many of them still owe their job to drugs).

The article started out cheerfully, but when it couldn't hide the
futility of this war without end, it ended on a tragic note, as all
such articles must.  Please, don't bother to try to put a cheerful
face on this hideous disaster anymore.

Keith Brilhart,
Decatur, IL