Pubdate: Fri, 01 Oct 2010
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2010 Harvey A. Silverglate
Author: Harvey A. Silverglate


BRIAN MCGRORY writes, in "We've hit a new low in depravity" (Page A1, Sept. 
29), that, among "the visibly shaken mayor [and his] police commissioner" 
and the "grim-faced district attorney," "none of them, nor anyone else . . 
. is quite sure what to do to stop" drug-related violence. The most potent 
reason for the latest orgy of violence depicted in the Globe's excellent, 
chilling coverage ("A city enraged: Toddler, 3 others slain in Mattapan; 
officials vow arrests," Page A1, Sept. 29) is hinted at in another part of 
that day's paper: the financial pages, and the item "Prison operator raises 
its profit forecast." While people lay dying on the streets of Boston, 
Corrections Corporation of America reported a 7.4 percent increase in 
quarterly profits.

While governments around the nation teeter on the verge of bankruptcy 
trying to fund municipal services, private enterprise has found a niche 
supplementing bursting prison systems.

It is impossible to win the so-called war on drugs because the forces of 
economics make the drug industry's product more valuable with every 
ratcheting up of the laws, penalties, and enforcement armies. And so the 
drug traffic destabilizes not only Boston neighborhoods, but whole nations 
and regions of the world.

The United States already has the world's highest rate of incarceration, 
and yet our state and federal drug warriors will doubtless be calling for 
more police officers, higher sentences, and additional prisons, all of 
which will produce more death and tragedy on our streets.

It has been decades since the federal government began legislating the "war 
on drugs." How much longer will it take for us to recognize what fools we 
have been to believe the drug warriors' propaganda?

Harvey A. Silverglate


The writer is a criminal defense and civil liberties trial lawyer.
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