Saturday, March 29, 2008

THE LUCK OF THE DRAW

Mr. David Paterson, newly elevated Governor of NY, recently acknowledged (presumably because he realized it would get out anyway!) that he used cocaine and marijuana in his younger years. Had he been unlucky enough back then to get busted for possession of a single joint, or a trace amount of coke, he'd probably be in jail now, or trying to overcome a "criminal record" and find a job, or perhaps dead. Instead, because he had the good fortune not to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, he is responsible for governing NY State - and however one judges his likelihood of governing well, no one has suggested for a moment that he's unqualified in the light of his acknowledgment.

Justice should not hinge on luck. Hopefully, the new governor will reconsider our drug policies in light of his own experience. He has long advocated changing the Draconian Rockefeller Law; now he should push for an even more radical change in how we approach drug use in our state and nation. If any political leader can empathize with the real victims of the drug war, he can!

1 Comments:

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Circle Tree Ranch said...

For far too long now, legislation is made with the idea that these laws will punish 'dangerous people' in 'bad places'. The reality is that those laws, for the most part, affect disenfranchised populations. Middle and upper-class Anlos are 5 times more likely to use drugs than blacks or latinos. Yet, drug convictions are more commonly given to 'people of color'.

Without some type of long-term treatment, the drug laws only serve to clog our legal system with petty possession and related charges.

Each inmate has approximately 4-5 children. So while our tax dollars are going to keep the parent locked up-- ten years down the road we will be spending 4-5 times more money to incarcerate their parentless children. Wouldn't it make more sense to redirect those tax dollars to treatment and parenting classes? The long-term result would benefit society much more.

 

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