Pubdate: Mon, 05 May 2003
Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC)
Copyright: 2003 Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding your April 25 editorial, "An overbooked jail," Greensboro is not 
the only city grappling with an overcrowded jail. Throughout the nation, 
states facing budget shortfalls are pursuing alternatives to incarceration 
for nonviolent drug offenders. A study conducted by the Rand Corp. 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 nonviolent 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.

Robert Sharpe, Washington

The writer is a program officer, Drug Policy Alliance.
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