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January 31, 2008

Drug laws, racial attitudes and jurisprudence

Alex Coolman, the lawyer who authors the always interesting Drug Law Blog, has a terrific new post providing the particulars interview with Prof. Doris Marie Provine, author of the book Unequal Under Law: Race in the War on Drugs.  Here are snippets of an interview that should be read in full:

Q: I’m thinkingand this is maybe a counter-exampleof the moment you note in your book when Rep. Barney Frank was talking about the crack-powder sentencing disparity. He was being very explicit and saying it was “overwhelmingly, objectively racist,” and he inspired all these outraged responses from other representatives who just thought that was ludicrous and that it couldn’t possibly be.

A: You can’t go that route and create policy change. I think Marc Mauer [the director of the Sentencing Project] is brilliant in the way that he is approaching change. If we talked with Marc, I think his analysis of that disparity would be very similar.  But his approach when he’s dealing with people who aren’t of this persuasion is to address the issue in terms of “efficiency,” “cost,” all these utilitarian concepts. That’s good, because it’s more neutral territory and people can go there and not get so aroused.  But I don’t have Marc’s job.  I have a different job.  My focus in this book was on how race amplifies the fears that mind-altering drugs provoke.

January 31, 2008 at 03:06 PM | Permalink


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