Pubdate: Mon, 24 Mar 2003
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Copyright: 2003 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Author: Steven D. Skelton


I knew that if I read your editorial page long enough, I would eventually 
find a position I agree with. The March 17 editorial, "Crime and 
punishment," was absolutely correct.

Our current punitive method of dealing with our drug problem leads to the 
question, "Who is better off by putting drug users in prison?"

Certainly, it is not the drug user. Prison is a violent place. It also 
isn't the drug user's family. As if having a member of the family addicted 
to drugs wasn't bad enough, the other family members must now cope 
financially and emotionally with their loved one's prison term.

Society is no better off either. Its scarce police and prison resources are 
being allotted for nonviolent drug offenders, leaving fewer resources 
available for protection from violent criminals who are far more likely to 
hurt citizens.

Also, the taxpayers get hit with a $25,000 bill for every year that the 
drug offender is in prison. What a waste of money.

Steven D. Skelton

St. Louis
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