“The United States once had a less punitive approach to addiction. But beginning in the 1970s, its presidents, exploiting fears of criminality that white voters associated with African-Americans, initiated a war on drugs that expanded drug policing and prosecutions. This shifted money away from treatment toward interdiction and incarceration, and prodded the country to embrace a “lock-’em-up” mentality.
Belatedly, those policies have come in for a reckoning. Politicians from both parties now acknowledge that too many people have been put away for too long; in any given year, nearly a third of those who enter prison are admitted for drug crimes. Racial inequities are stark. While studies suggest that black Americans are less likely than whites to sell drugs, they are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested on suspicion of drug dealing.
It was evidence of those jarring racial disparities that led Seattle officials to consider the LEAD approach. Lisa Daugaard, now the director of the nonprofit Public Defender Association, spent years waging a legal battle against the city’s police force over racially discriminatory patterns in drug arrests. At the time, Seattle’s population was 8 percent African-American. Research suggested that white people dominated the city’s drug trade. Yet 67 percent of those picked up for serious drug offenses (other than marijuana) were black. “It was an extreme situation,” she said.”
Though many prison guard unions and the Ku Klux Klan scream every time I write this, it is time to at least decriminalize all addictive drugs. Better, we we would also legalize these markets, to stop the armed gangs created to protect the illegal markets from undermining communities and governments. Addiction is known to be a disease, it is time to return to treating addiction as a disease and not a crime.
Important article, some good comments, like:
Meredith NYC 10 hours ago
“Good that parts of USA are progressing into the 21st century. We need frequent updates of whatever progress there is. Here’s one of many foreign role models:
Per huff post article– Portugal Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary of Decriminalizing Drugs.
“In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the possession of small amounts of all illicit substances. Having small amounts of drugs is no longer a criminal offense. It’s still against the rules; it just won’t get you thrown in jail or prison. It’s a civil offense — like a ticket. Portugal continues to punish sales and trafficking of illicit substances.
The results are in: decreased youth drug use, falling overdose and HIV/AIDS rates, less crime, reduced criminal justice expenditures, greater access to drug treatment, and safer and healthier communities.”
Why was Portugal able to put this program through?”
Reply 39 Recommended
“I am a board-certified psychiatrist.
The fix is to legalize all drugs (for adults), just as Portugal has done.
Think for yourself?”