Pubdate: Mon, 20 Aug 2001
Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC)
Copyright: 2001 Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the story "Black prisoners increase while population stays 
steady" (Aug. 12):

Racial profiling is by no means limited to North Carolina. U.S. government 
statistics reveal that the drug war is being waged in a racist manner 
throughout the nation. Although only 15 percent of the nation's drug users 
are black, blacks account for 37 percent of those arrested for drug 
violations, more than 42 percent of those in federal prisons for drug 
violations, and almost 60 percent of those in state prisons for drug felonies.

Support for the drug war would end overnight if whites were incarcerated 
for drugs at the same rate as minorities.

Racially disproportionate incarceration rates are not the only cause for 
alarm. Putting nonviolent drug offenders behind bars with violent criminals 
transmits violent values rather than reducing them.

Instead of wasting resources to turn potentially productive members of 
society who use recreational drugs (other than alcohol and tobacco) into 
hardened criminals, we should fund cost-effective treatment.

Robert Sharpe, Washington

The writer works with The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation.
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