Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hillary Clinton, the Drug War and Drug Treatment

Also from Talk Left, here.

Kudos to Hillary Clinton for acknowledging that "our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade."

That's exactly right and it's way past time for the U.S. to make a serious effort to curb that demand instead of spending billions on incarcerating drug offenders.

Pew's recent study--"One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections"--provides a vivid picture of just how little we do to curb demand for drugs.

For example: in Kansas, the prison population has surged by more than 50 percent over the past eight years to more than 22,000 inmates yet the state has a mere 400 slots in treatment programs.

Hillary's statement yesterday was a big step forward in recognizing the role of demand in the drug business. But we need to radically reshape our drug policy to focus on curbing the very demand that causes so much violence both here in the U.S and in Mexico.

See here too ("Deal Reached to End Rockefeller Drug Laws").

The deal would repeal many of the mandatory minimum prison sentences now in place for lower-level drug felons, giving judges the authority to send first-time nonviolent offenders to treatment instead of prison.

The plan would also expand drug treatment programs and widen the reach of drug courts at a cost of at least $50 million.

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