Another Casualty in America's Drug War 

Another Casualty in America's Drug War 
Posted by FoM on November 29, 2000 at 09:10:09 PT
By John W. Whitehead 
Source: WorldNetDaily
The curse of drugs has struck again. Robert Downey Jr., on break from shooting television's "Ally McBeal," was arrested over the Thanksgiving weekend and charged with possession of two dangerous drugs, cocaine and methamphetamines (commonly known as "speed"). Downey, an Academy Award nominee for best actor for his performance in the movie "Chaplin" (1992), was also charged with committing a felony while on bail and now faces more time in prison. 
Downey, who has had a long history of drug abuse, including heroin and cocaine, had been under the care of a California rehabilitation center. Released only three months ago from prison where he was serving time for drug-related offenses, he was required to undergo random drug tests as part of his parole. But, as is the pattern with those like Downey who are hooked on drugs, they seem to return over and over to their addiction. Downey is scheduled to be arraigned on the new drug charges sometime after Christmas. But this talented young actor is merely one more casualty of the so-called "war on drugs" we hear so much about -- especially from politicians around election time. Unfortunately, it's a war we are losing and one that is damaging the core foundations of our society. Indeed, in 1999 alone, there were an estimated 1,532,200 arrests for drug violations in the United States. Law enforcement officials, however, admit drug supplies remain abundant in nearly every city -- including small towns. It's frightening to learn that dangerous drugs such as crack cocaine continue to dominate this country's illicit drug problem. There has also been an increasing trend in heroin use since 1992. There are even reports that suggest an increasing incidence of new heroin users -- called "snorters" -- in the younger age groups, often among women. So how are we, as a nation, handling the victims of our drug war? The American legal system is locking them up in prison. The U.S. Department of Prison Statistics indicates that, shockingly enough, over 60 percent of all federal prisoners are drug offenders (while only 3 percent are violent offenders). This impacts heavily on young offenders who, if placed in prison, are often mistreated. Some learn new forms of criminal behavior. In fact, Downey's stay in prison was such a harrowing experience that many of his friends expressed surprise that he would even chance going back to prison. In 1997, for instance, the actor was cut during a fistfight with three other inmates. Afterwards, Downey was moved to solitary confinement. The drug war also greatly impacts minorities who make up about 50 percent of the prison population. Indeed, one out of three African-American males in their 20s are either in prison, in probation or on parole. In Washington, D.C., that ratio is even higher: one out of two African-American males between the ages of 15 and 35 are in prison, on probation or on parole -- many of them have found their way into the clutches of the criminal justice system through drug use or possession. If the current trend continues, more African-American children will most likely go to prison than to college when they grow up. What, then, is the solution to the drug epidemic? The plain and simple answer is that there are no easy answers. But it should be obvious by now that incarcerating young people is not the solution. In some respects, we've become prison happy in this country. Largely fueled by drug arrests, America now imprisons a higher percentage of its citizens than any other nation in the world. However, one major hope for a solution can be found in the area of prevention programs, which are designed to enhance "protective factors" and rehabilitate, not incarcerate. Protective factors include strong and positive bonds within social groups, primarily in the family, if possible. Such programs should certainly include education for children and adolescents. Private organizations, such as community centers and churches, need to place not only their time, but their money, into programs to keep young people off the streets and away from drugs. These groups should provide parents and caregivers with training on appropriate strategies to reinforce what young people are learning about drugs and their harmful effects. They should involve police and help law enforcement agencies refocus their attention away from tactics that are obviously not working and toward prevention and rehabilitation. We can learn a lesson from California's attempts to win the war on drugs. For example, California recently passed a law that will go into effect in July 2001 requiring probation and drug treatment, not incarceration, for possession, use, transportation of narcotics and similar parole violations (except for sale and manufacture). The law also authorizes dismissal of charges after completion of treatment. This law moves away from current programs that merely incarcerate and do not rehabilitate. One thing is certain: If we don't rethink the narcotics problem, then our country is on a self-destructive path that leads to nowhere, except to a place where drugs will proliferate and the prison population will continue to escalate. Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute and editor of Gadfly magazine. Source: WorldNetDaily (US Web)Author: John W. WhiteheadPublished: November 29, 2000Copyright: 2000,, Inc.Address: PO Box 409, Cave Junction, OR 97523-0409Fax: (541) 597-1700Contact: letters worldnetdaily.comWebsite: Articles:Downey's Latest Lapse Another Jarring Reversal Rally To Robert Downey Jr's Side Robert Downey Jr. Faces More Drug Charges The Actor's Addiction
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Comment #3 posted by freedom fighter on November 29, 2000 at 17:22:49 PT
Win the War on Drugs
by legalizing and regulating the drugs!It is not a hard concept to understand this.derickS, sorry to hear about your neighbors! I myself went through this few weeks ago. This is just stupid! I feel for you man!\/
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Comment #2 posted by derickS on November 29, 2000 at 14:44:10 PT
What about......
The six people that were killed in two border towns in Mexico yesterday, all execution style. This is hapenning a few miles away from where I live. We live in this great country yet my neighbors are being murdered because of the "War on Mari..I mean Drugs".
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Comment #1 posted by tom on November 29, 2000 at 12:01:06 PT
Body count
Body count rolls on. Downey goes to jail for political reasons. Peter McWilliams died, Todd McCormack ain't long for this world. Columbia is soon to become another "Vietnam" Shrub and Sore-Loserman are the best sputum AmeriKa can cough up. Bad times indeed...What is there to look forward to?
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