I think I should ammend my post yesterday. I still maintain my thoughts on a basic fairness issue. Drugs are a multiracial equal opportunity problem. That said, we need to not repeat the mindless emotionalism of the "Tough on Crime" crowd. We should be more clear-eyed. I think this helps:

Wish I would have jumped in on this discussion before...

I've commented before on the topic of prison reform, and while I agree generally with the sentiment primarily voiced here against the "war on drugs", I think that it tends to be oversimplified in the comments.

As a previous commenter noted, plea bargains skew the statistics on the drug possession versus drug dealing charges. I'm a therapist in a medium-security prison and have worked with lots of guys down on drug cases. I think the notion that there are a lot of guys locked up on drug possession cases who were just drug addicts is false. I would say, anecdotally speaking, that most of the guys I work with that have drug cases were dealing. Often they were dealing to support their own habit, but nevertheless...

What is more common with the addicts is that they get arrested for theft, residential entry, battery, etc. That list includes violent and non-violent offenses.

The whole criminal justice/corrections system handling of drugs is a mess. I agree with the majority of what is said here about it, but I think we need to realize that the diagnosis of the problem is not as simple as it often is portrayed here.


We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.