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Archive for Friday, February 14, 2003

Drug problem

February 14, 2003

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To the editor:

You missed the real story in your article in the Feb. 1 Journal-World, "Informant steps up to defend suspended policeman." The story isn't about a snitch that lost his best friend. It's about a government so zealous to put people involved with illegal drugs behind bars, they would actually encourage a person with a serious drug habit to continue to use drugs as long as he gets them arrests. How can our Police Department have no qualms about allowing a person with a serious illness to continue to harm himself so they can look tough on crime? Surely this is immoral. Yet the old argument goes, everyone does it! It's not illegal!

Officer Peck is no different from any of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of police officers around the country who unethically use individuals who can't help themselves to further their careers. (He also has in common with the entire drug units of Philadelphia, Houston and Los Angeles the distinction of being fired for lying to the court.)

We need to admit the law enforcement model of drug control has failed and is hopelessly out of control on both sides. We need to recognize drug abuse for what it is -- a medical problem, unsolvable with the criminal justice system. It's time for the medical community to respond to the abuse of people in the name of convictions in the "war on drugs."

I call upon the Police Department and courts to take this opportunity to do away with the informant method of arresting illegal drug users and suppliers. Drug abuse cannot be cured with a jail cell, and drug profits will not be deterred by a conviction. Drug courts, new sentencing guidelines, involving public health officials in treatment and soliciting public input are needed so we, as a community, can decide what is best for our citizens. Let's try another approach.

Laura Green,

Lawrence

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