Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jul 2004
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2004 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: James E. Gierach
Note: The author is a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Drug Prohibition


Chicagoans really have to hand it to Chicago Police Supt. Philip
Cline, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, and federal prosecutor David
Hoffman who coheads Project Safe Neighborhoods --- murders are down in
Chicago. ("Murder and the wave machine," Chicago Tribune, Editorial,
July 4, 2004) This progress has been accomplished by increased
cooperation among city, county, state and federal agencies; targeting
drug-gang leaders for prosecution; selective federal gun prosecutions
that carry severe penalties for routine gun violations; greater use of
federal wiretapping authority; and the Chicago Police Department's
rapid deployment of police following a shooting to prevent

A lull in Chicago's murder rate is as good as it gets in a
drug-prohibition society.  With drug prohibition still the law of the
land, some neighborhoods continue to boil over with shootings, drugs,
gangs and guns.  Rather than re-examining the merits and demerits of
drug prohibition, government leaders pour resources into the
anti-murder campaign in Chicago with gusto.  As a result, many gang
leaders now sit in jail awaiting trial, and the number of murders in
Chicago is down.

But ganging up on the gang members in an effort to overcome the
inevitable consequences of drug prohibition remains a "Band-Aid"
solution and has other deleterious effects.  The U.S. prison
population continues to soar, civil liberties continue to erode,
privacy rights are traded for surveillance cameras mounted along the
public way, and suburban kids continue to trek to Chicago's West Side
for heroin pure enough to snort.  Drug prohibition produces one
overdose death per day in the unregulated Chicago-region heroin trade.

Misguidedly, the Tribune calls for the institutionalization of these
intergovernmental anti-murder initiatives and says nothing about
drug-prohibition policy.

The Tribune editorial is almost giddy with the "progress" made with
the crack down on the gangs, guns and murders in Chicago and
criticizes the Internal Revenue Service for not moving fast enough to
join the gangbanging, recalling that it was tax evasion and not murder
prosecution that sent Al Capone up the river.  Unfortunately, the
Tribune editorial fails to further recall that the violence associated
with alcohol prohibition did not end with Al Capone's conviction in
1931 but rather with an end to alcohol prohibition.

Rather than institutionalizing polices that better enable us to live
with the inevitable consequences of drug-prohibition polices ---
endless waves of killings, shootings, gangs, corruption, and the
defilement of our youth --- why not end drug prohibition and stop the
problems at their source?

James E. Gierach

Speaker for Law Enforcement Against Drug Prohibition
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