Pubdate: Mon, 24 Mar 2003
Source: Oklahoma Daily, The (OK Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Oklahoma Daily
Note: This paper is published by the University of Oklahoma
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the Editor:

Matt Cox's March 12 column was right on target. Oklahoma is not the only 
state grappling with overcrowded prisons. Many states facing budget 
shortfalls are pursuing alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug 
offenders. 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 
along side 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. Students interested in helping 
reform harmful drug laws should contact Students for Sensible Drug Policy 

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance
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