Thursday, August 20, 2009

NYT's Kristof: We Need a "Rethink of Our Drug Policy"

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has an excellent piece today calling for a fundamental rethinking of our nation's approach to drugs and crime, especially in this time of severe economic restraints.

Astonishingly, many politicians seem to think that we should lead the world in prisons, not in health care or education. The United States is anomalous among industrialized countries in the high proportion of people we incarcerate; likewise, we stand out in the high proportion of people who have no medical care — and partly as a result, our health care outcomes such as life expectancy and infant mortality are unusually poor.

It’s time for a fundamental re-evaluation of the criminal justice system, as legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Webb has called for, so that we’re no longer squandering money that would be far better spent on education or health.


Above all, it’s time for a rethink of our drug policy. The point is not to surrender to narcotics, but to learn from our approach to both tobacco and alcohol. Over time, we have developed public health strategies that have been quite successful in reducing the harm from smoking and drinking.
Kristof previously profiled LEAP's Norm Stamper, former Seattle Police Chief, in his Times column.

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