Monday, July 11, 2011

A Not So Happy 40th Anniversary of the "War on Drugs"

Recently, the New York Times published “Drug Bust”, an article written by Charles M. Blow discussing the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s declaration of war on drugs.  When this war began four decades ago, drug abuse was indeed a huge problem in the United States.  The fact that drug abuse continues to be such a huge problem is a clear indication of the failure of this policy.  While Nixon correctly identified a worthy cause, the strategy used to address this problem was all wrong.  Instead of attacking the problem at the source, by providing treatment to those with substance abuse problems, this misguided approach, “turn[ed] people who should have been patients into prisoners.” Blow also points out that this “overwhelming thirst for punishment” has hit African Americans particularly and disproportionately hard. 

Although the Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy declared the war on drugs to be a failure, the battle rages on.  Over the past 40 years the number of drug related arrests has continued to increase.  Spending for national drug control has also continued to increase, totaling over 25 billion taxpayer dollars for this year.  It’s time to funnel our state and national resources into solutions that can actually work.  Proper treatment as an alternative to prison has proven to reduce crime, and also save money.  We must continue to push for more vibrant implementation of judicial diversion provided for in CPL § 216.  Treatment alternatives hold out the best hope for public safety and public health.  

1 comment:

  1. If you want to further drug law reform, you might wish to consider the good work being done under the banner "The Vienna Declaration".