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September 8, 2008

"Real commander needed for the war on drugs"

The title of this post is the title of this effective column in the Seattle Times by Neal Pierce.  Here are a few excerpts:

Will America's ill-starred "war on drugs" and its expanding prison culture make it into the presidential campaign? Standard wisdom says "no way."

We may have the world's highest rate of incarceration — with only 5 percent of global population, 25 percent of prisoners worldwide.  We may be throwing hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders, many barely of age, behind bars — one reason a stunning one out of every 100 Americans is now imprisoned.  We may have created a huge "prison-industrial complex" of prison builders, contractors and swollen criminal justice bureaucracies.

Federal, state and local outlays for law enforcement and incarceration are costing, according to a Senate committee estimate, a stunning $200 billion annually, siphoning off funds from enterprises that actually build our future: universities, schools, health, infrastructure....

A serious set of problems, a shadow over our national future?  No doubt.  But do our politicians talk much about alternatives?  No way — they typically find it too risky to be attacked as "soft on crime."...

Talk about a serious national issue on which we could use some presidential leadership — not dictating precise answers, but moving us to debate alternatives.  It's been 20 years since drugs and prisons have even been mentioned in the televised presidential debates.  Maybe not just Obama but McCain too could surprise us with some fresh ideas and promise of leadership as president.  But we probably won't hear this unless reporters press the issue.

Some related posts:

September 8, 2008 at 12:08 PM | Permalink


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In 2004, President Obama considered decriminalization as a good way to handle the WOD, but he does not support legalization of drugs. As you all know, as a nation in such poor financial condition, we can save money by releasing those who have been sentenced to probation or sentenced to ridiculous prison sentences simply because they are repeat drug offenders and have been caught for the 50th time with Marijuana for personal use.

Look at California. Why should we overburden our system by increasing the amount of tax dollars spent on people who are sick, in need of medication but have no health insurance, but have been arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to long prison terms because they find relief using Marijuana medicinally?

The drug laws we currently have are not in the least bit pragmatic. We need to become a more progressive nation, as is The Netherlands, and learn to allocate our tax dollars where they benefit the most number of people in the most useful yet most cost-effective way.

President Obama on Marijuana laws (decriminalization and legalization) in 2004.

President Obama on (medical) Marijuana laws in 2007.

President Obama in 2007 on resource management, war on drugs versus violent crimes and terrorism

Posted by: Ange | Nov 6, 2008 2:58:01 PM

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