Pubdate: Mon, 04 Apr 2011
Source: Wichita Eagle (KS)
Copyright: 2011 The Wichita Eagle
Author: Robert Sharpe


Support for the drug war would end overnight if whites were 
incarcerated for drug offenses at the same rate as minorities ("War 
on drugs has been a disaster," Aug. 1 Opinion). Racially 
disproportionate incarceration rates are not the only cause for alarm.

Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, joblessness, 
addiction and delinquency. Incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders 
with hardened criminals is the equivalent of providing them with a 
taxpayer-funded education in anti-social behavior.

Declare peace in the failed drug war and begin treating all substance 
abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem it is. Thanks 
to public education efforts, legal tobacco use has steadily declined, 
without any need to criminalize smokers. Mandatory minimum prison 
sentences, civil asset forfeiture, random drug testing and racial 
profiling are not the most cost-effective means of discouraging 
unhealthy choices.

ROBERT SHARPE Policy analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington, D.C.
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