Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jul 2008
Source: Reporter, The (Vacaville, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Reporter
Author: Robert Sharpe


A question of following the money

California may well be the worst case example of a prison-industrial
complex gone wild ("Prison games," The Reporter, July 13). For
decades, entrenched interests have dominated the drug policy debate.
As a result, state budgets favor incarceration over education. Prison
guard unions and for-profit prisons fund the campaigns of politicians
willing to support mandatory minimum sentencing and zero-tolerance
drug laws. Both major parties are guilty of feeding at the
prison-industrial complex trough.

This is the business approach to drug policy. The more citizens behind
bars, the more money the prison industry makes. Taxpayers foot the
bill for the record number of nonviolent offenders behind bars.

Thanks to public education, tobacco use has declined considerably in
recent years. Apparently mandatory minimum prison sentences, civil
asset forfeiture, random drug testing and racial profiling are not
necessarily the most cost-effective means of discouraging unhealthy

Robert Sharpe, analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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