Pubdate: Sun, 15 Aug 1999
Source: Ogdensburg Advance News (NY)
Address: P.O. Box 409 Ogdensburg, New York 13669
Copyright: 1999 St Lawrence County Newspapers Corp.
Author: Lawrence Seguin
Note: Title by MAP editor. Mr. Seguin is a member of ReconsiDer: Forum on
Drug Policy, NY.


To the Editors;

It seems that our elected officials easily weathered the hoopla over their
near dereliction of duty in passing the budget late yet again, and why not?
They do it every year, blame each other, look mildly contrite, and get
re-elected. The real tragedy here is that this year there were several bills
that would have, to varying degrees, addressed a lynch-pin issue that is
responsible for many of the problems affecting New Yorkers. None of them
were voted on in this past session.

Our politicians' failure to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws costs New
Yorkers far more than the hundreds of millions of our tax money they earmark
for drug-law enforcement and prisons. It creates and feeds a black market in
illegal drugs. Disputes over business in that market, because it is totally
unregulated, are settled by violence. Money to purchase the drugs at the
over-inflated prices caused by their illegality, is frequently obtained by
robbery and theft, and New Yorkers suffer the consequences.

We are forced to live in unsafe communities while we pay hundreds of
millions of dollars to build and operate prisons to which we send, not
violent predators, but non-violent drug users. There are currently over
22,300 of them in New York State prisons. Interesting to note, as well, is
that although the average drug user is white, 94% of those in prison for
drug offenses are people of color.

If the politicians think that New Yorkers are happy when we build lots of
prisons and put lots of people in them (which does appear to be the case),
they should consider the euphoria that would occur if we started putting
actual criminals in those cells. Filling the cells with violent criminals
instead of non-violent ones would no doubt contribute to making our streets
SAFER. Now there's an idea!

Lawrence Seguin
ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy
288 Cold Spring Rd.
Lisbon, New York 13658-3208
tel:(315)393-7375 - ---
MAP posted-by: Don Beck