Pubdate: Mon, 23 Dec 2002
Source: Traverse City Record-Eagle (MI)
Copyright: 2002 The Traverse City Record-Eagle
Author: Robert Sharpe,
Cited: Families Against Mandatory Minimums ( )
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Your Dec. 18 editorial was right on target. Thanks in large part to the
lobbying efforts of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Michigan judges
will now be able to impose sentences based on factors other than the amount
of drugs involved. Many drug offenders would no doubt benefit from
treatment. Prison cells and criminal records don't cure addiction. 

A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that every dollar invested
in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.46 in societal costs. There
is far more at stake than tax dollars. The drug war is not the promoter of
family values that some would have us believe. 

Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, joblessness,
addiction and delinquency. Not only do the children lose out, but society as
a whole does too. Incarcerating non-violent drug offenders alongside
hardened criminals is the equivalent of providing them with a
taxpayer-funded education in criminal behavior. 

Turning drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of tax
dollars. It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war and begin
treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health
problem it is. Destroying the futures and families of citizens who make
unhealthy choices doesn't benefit anyone. 

Robert Sharpe

Arlington, Va.

Robert Sharpe is program officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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