Pubdate: Mon, 14 Aug 2006
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2006 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Gerald G. Keashon
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


I applaud your recent editorial "Who cries for the junkies," but 
would like to comment on some of your assertions.

The first being that "We have long given up on the notion that there 
is a war on drugs." The war has not been waged on drugs but on the 
people who use them. When President Nixon declared his "War on Drugs" 
in 1971, there were 143 citizens in prison for drug offenses per 
100,000 population. Statistics available in 2004 indicate the 
incarceration rate is about 729 per 100,000 and growing.

America's failed drug policies have affected all areas of society. We 
have developed a benign acceptance of the daily tragedies. Children 
are killed in drug-related shootouts between rival gangs. Users 
regularly overdose because there is no quality control and are drawn 
to criminal behavior to support their addictions.

Economically depressed drug- and crime-ridden areas where inhabitants 
wear shirts with the slogan "Stop snitching" are the result of the 
failure of our zero-tolerance approach.

The city and its citizens would be better served by implementing 
harm-reduction strategies to deal with substance abuse.

I believe, as stated in the editorial, that "As long as people yearn 
for an escape and as long as money can be made by providing the means 
to escape, there will be drugs." Let's develop a humanitarian 
approach to address this societal problem.

Gerard J. Keashon

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