Ex-Police Speak about the War on Drugs

The Northfield News reported last week on an interesting speaker who talked to the Rotary Club about drug use and abuse. Members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) have been making the rounds to tell their side of a rather controversial issue – whether or not currently illegal drugs should remain so.

In this case, Captain Peter Christ, formerly a police chief, talked about how our current criminal justice system is both costly and harms those it shouldn’t. With a background as a police officer, Cpt. Christ brings an authority and gravitas that a normal pro-drug advocate would not. There is no doubt that he’s been places where most of us are thankful we will never go.

Christ made a comparison to the prohibition of liquor in the gangster years of Al Capone. (The “Prohibition” in the groups title reflects this characterization.) When alcohol was once again legalized, the illegal importation, manufacture and black market distribution dried up, taking away the money that powered Capone’s illegal organization. The parallel is made to show what might happen if current drugs of abuse are legalized.

Critics might point out that Capone’s organization didn’t really go away at all – shifting instead to other illegal activities like gambling and prostitution – but ex-chief Christ does have a point. The point may be stretched a bit when alcoholism is compared to heroin addiction, but there’s little doubt that our current system of incarcerating people for non-violent drug crimes isn’t doing much to stem the tide.

For those who cannot stomach full legalization, there may be common ground still. LEAP would accept a pulling back from current mandatory minimums as a step in the right direction. With a change in focus from criminal prosecution toward treatment, some of the incarcerated could be diverted, and some of the consequences avoided. One common consequence is the destruction of a family when one or both parents are jailed on drug charges.

If your organization would like to get a speaker from LEAP, you can find out more at their website.


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