Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2001
Source: Wilson Daily Times, The (NC)
Section: Open Forum
Copyright: 2001 The Wilson Daily Times
Address: 2001 Downing Street Ext, PO Box 2447, Wilson, NC 27894
Phone: 252-243-5151
Fax: 252-243-2999
Author: Mark Gentry


A Letter To The Editor

I'd like to comment on a couple of articles that I recently read in the 
papers. One concerned where President Bush is asking for $4.66 billion from 
Congress to run the Federal Prison System for the year 2002. Shouldn't we 
ask ourselves why this money is needed? Well it's needed of course to keep 
up with the exploding prison population, but one might ask why is that 

There are currently 154,000 inmates in the federal system, more than half 
are nonviolent drug offenders. This is due to the fact that we have 
mandatory sentencing and no parole in the federal system. These people are 
spending four to six years more than rapist and murderers.

In the second article ex-drug czar William Bennett says, "The drug war 
worked once; it can work again." He makes this statement as though the drug 
war was a huge success during the Reagan/Bush years, when in fact more 
people went to prison under Clinton than the total 12 years Reagan and Bush 
were in the White House.

 From 1890 to 1990 we put 1 million people in prison, then we doubled that 
in just 10 years largely in part because of the drug war, but has this 
prison fever helped the drug problem any? No. Mr. Bennett seems to think 
that now that G.W. Bush is the president and Mr. Walters is the new drug 
czar that the drug war will magically work for America. The truth is that 
it makes no difference who is in power; we cannot incarcerate our way out 
of this problem, and as long as we keep trying we will only keep shelling 
good money after bad for an even bigger prison system.

Mark Gentry
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