Letters To The Editor


January 07, 2003

Our drug policy should focus on harm reduction

According to a recent Sun article on Baltimore's intensive anti-drug campaign, "Some experts say that temporary stepped-up enforcement in certain areas simply shifts crime from one part of the city to another" ("Intensive campaign by city police yields short-term success," Dec. 29).

Does moving open-air drug markets from one neighborhood to the next constitute victory in the war on drugs?

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the profits from drug trafficking. And, in the case of addictive drugs such as heroin, a spike in street prices only leads desperate addicts to increase their criminal activity to feed their habits.

The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime. Drug policy should focus not on reducing the number of people who use drugs, but on reducing the amount of death, disease, crime and suffering associated with drug use and drug law enforcement.

Drug prohibition fuels organized crime and violence, which is then used to justify increased drug war spending. It's time to end this madness.

Robert Sharpe


The writer is a program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Ads just prove war on drugs can't work

A recent series of slick, government-sponsored TV ads warns that drug money supports terror. Although the ads are obviously intended to prop up the disastrous drug war, they could also be seen as a comment on the failings of prohibition.

Not only has 60-plus years of drug prohibition resulted in heroin and cocaine at lower prices and higher levels of purity than ever, but it is also funding our mortal enemies. The real question is when the government will face up to this fact.

And it is long since time to replace the Drug Enforcement Administration and the drug war with people with medical credentials and a harm-reduction approach.

William P. Jenkins

Bel Air

Drug czar's ouster angers county voter

The recent events concerning the abrupt termination of Baltimore County drug czar Michael M. Gimbel lead me to deeply regret my vote for James T. Smith as county executive ("Scores call for return of county drug czar," Dec. 19).

I fully understand the political patronage system and its ramifications. However, to terminate an exemplary employee with many years of experience who has made the Baltimore County anti-drug program a national model is incomprehensible.

If this is an example of the decisions the new regime of Baltimore County government will make, then woe betide us.

Harry Leibowitz


No reason to defend any segregationists

Theo Lippman Jr., who had a long and distinguished career at The Sun, did himself no favor by rising to the defense of "good" white segregationists of the 1940s ("Strom's ilk didn't speak for all in '40s," Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 24).

Through a series of arguments, he tried to distinguish various levels of support for segregation, from the hateful racist to the most liberal segregationists who supported "separate-but-equal segregation as an achievable first step toward integration."

But segregation has long been abolished - and justifications for supporting it aren't needed anymore. It's time just to admit that segregation was wrong.

Dan Jerrems


Let South Koreans defend themselves

We spend billions of dollars each year keeping troops in South Korea to help defend that country against North Korea. Yet many South Koreans dislike us and want our troops out ("Seoul faults tactic of isolating N. Korea," Dec. 31).

We should bring the troops home, and tell the South Koreans to sell their cars and appliances to North Korea.

Frederick J. Koenig


Lacking oil, Korea isn't worth a war

What Secretary of State Colin Powell is really saying is that, since there is no oil or any other natural resources that are profitable in North Korea, that county is not worth going to war with - no matter what kind of weapons it may have or what it promises to do ("Powell says U.S., N. Korea may talk," Dec. 30).

Charles Woodford


Executions can save money for real needs

I agree that murdering a police officer should be a capital offense ("Expediting execution will stop criminals," letters, Dec. 11). However, I do not believe executing criminals will have any effect on the actions of other criminals, nor should that be our mission.

Capital punishment should not be done for retaliation, revenge or to teach lessons to others. It should be done to keep criminals from tapping the resources of taxpayers for their living expenses and their endless appeals.

We should be using these funds to feed the homeless, care for the lower-income aged, provide day care for poverty-level single parents, provide drugs for AIDS patients and meet a host of other expenses.

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