6. Set appropriate priorities and achievable social goals Remember that there are no magic solutions to the problems of crime, violence and drug abuse. The principal immediate goal should be to reduce the harms from drug and alcohol use and commerce to a minimum. We must realistically acknowledge that we are not aiming for the elimination of these problems, but a dramatic reduction in their severity. Reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases. Make clean needle/used needle exchange programs available to all populations of injecting drug users. Use such programs to introduce injecting drug users to health care, drug abuse treatment, and safer sex practices. Public health workers with clean needles need to go into shooting galleries. Glass crack pipes that break and cut the lips are spreading HIV as well. They need to be replaced in crack houses. Condoms need to be distributed in crack houses and to prostitutes who are working the streets and crack houses. Treatment for STDs that cause sores such as syphilis, herpes and gonorrhea needs to be made available to further reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Perhaps prostitutes should be licensed and subject to daily and weekly examinations by public health doctors. Refocus Domestic Law Enforcement. All crimes of violence need to be investigated and prosecuted. Prosecute crime by traffickers and users, with the highest priority being violent crime (including domestic violence) and burglary. Street crime is generally the responsibility of state and local law enforcement agencies. Special squads need to be established and given plentiful resources to investigate crimes of violence such as street robbery, car jacking, and house invasion with the same intensity of focus that is now given to homicide or rape. We can afford such anti-violence measures when we stop spending so disproportionately to support the prohibition strategy. Crime Prevention: Community-oriented policing is an effective way to make streets safer and prevent crime by involving the community in the policing effort. An example is when a local patrol officer gives to neighbors his or her beeper number to call when a crime is being committed, not simply an anonymous 911 operator. Police should encourage community groups to expand neighborhood watch and citizen patrol efforts. James Q. Wilson in Broken Windows pointed out how the rules of the street can affect the crime rate. For example, drunks can sit on a stoop, but to prevent the climate of disorder that exists when drunks sprawl on the sidewalk, the police enforce an informal rule that drunks cannot lie down. In a similar manner, state and local law enforcement and prosecutors should concentrate on directing drug trafficking indoors, off the street and out of residential neighborhoods, commercial districts during business hours, playgrounds, parks and schools. Drug-free school zones can be accomplished by sustained enforcement in and around the schools and by heightened sentencing for sales that take place at schools as a matter of prosecutorial policy. However, mandatory minimum sentences are ineffective and unjust. Enforcement operations that lure traffickers to school-zones to create longer sentences have been properly characterized by judges as sentencing entrapment and are unjust and dishonest. Corrections: Corrections policy needs to be reformed. Repeat, serious violent offenders need to be incarcerated. Record keeping must be accurate to assure that repeat offenders are identified and not released by mistake. Records and fingerprint files need to be fully automated. Prisons should not be used for simple drug possessors and users, or for non-violent drug offenders. Unfortunately, over 20% of the Federal prison population is now non-violent, first-time drug offenders. These offenders should have their sentences commuted to community supervision. Market-place violence: When drug buyers don t pay the sellers&127; promptly and in full for the drugs they purchase, there is no legal recourse. When drug sellers sell drugs of less than represented purity, there is no legal recourse. When one drug seller leaves his employer to go into business for himself, taking the boss s customers with him, there is no legal recourse. Today these examples of normal commercial problems result in violence because of the prohibition strategy. Drug market-related violence will be ended only by legal regulation. Drug user violence: Drug use cannot be an excuse for acts of violence (see the user accountability principle above). Those who commit acts of violence forfeit the privilege of using drugs legally. Those who commit crimes under the influence of drugs or to buy drugs must be placed in drug treatment in connection with the appropriate punishment. Some drug user violence is committed in the course of obtaining money to buy drugs. Drug addicts often have a great need for money because they have developed a tolerance and because the drugs are expensive as a result of prohibition. (Indeed, before the wholesale failure of our drug strategy in the 1980s DEA measured its success by the increased price of illegal drugs.) Some of this crime will be eliminated when addicts have a legal source of drugs. (Of course many robbers who use drugs are simply robbers and must be targeted and treated as robbers). Except for alcohol and PCP very little drug user violence is a result of the mental effects from the ingestion of the drugs. A great many drug users are not committing robbery, burglary or other crimes. Some want drug treatment, but many drug users do not. As we have witnessed in public health campaigns addressing tobacco, alcohol, and physical fitness, well-designed education and social controls are very effective over time in changing the self-destructive behaviors of many persons. Anti-crime efforts generally: Leaving behind the prohibition-based stereotypes of young men as dope dealers and bad guys will improve police-community relations in a critical segment of the population. Replacement of open-air drug markets with carefully- regulated clinics and other access systems will help make streets safer and allow residents to feel safe walking in their communities, leading to more retail businesses that provide more jobs. Capital will not go to drug dealers, but will stay in the community. Strengthen International Law Enforcement. The U.S. Justice and Treasury Departments should concentrate on the highest-level and international traffickers, arms dealers and money launderers whose violence and corruption is undermining governments and the global financial system. These are complex cases requiring the reassignment of law enforcement agents and prosecutors away from minor level offenders. Right now, the majority of the productivity of U.S. law enforcement is the imprisonment of street-level dealers, bodyguards, mules and couriers (55.2%), and only a very small fraction are high-level dealers (11.2%) or international scope traffickers (23.7%). The current prohibition strategy has boosted revenues of organized crime all over the world, increasing their ability to buy weapons, bribe government officials, take over news media outlets, and corrupt legitimate business. The criminals will profit from the opportunities created by the prohibition-based Strategy much faster than the Strategy will bring them to justice or confiscate their revenues. Raise revenue from important economic sectors; reduce the financial power of criminals and drug, alcohol and tobacco organizations. Another goal is to obtain revenue from the commerce in drugs and alcohol to cover the social costs as much as possible. Federal alcohol taxation now raises some $11 billion per year. Alcohol and tobacco taxes should be substantially higher, but at rates that do not substantially increase the problem of cigarette bootlegging. Excise taxes, occupational taxes, and user fees on marijuana alone could raise $10-20 billion yearly for state and Federal governments. Such taxes should initially be set at low levels to draw buyers from the criminal markets, which will help eliminate such markets, but enforcement will certainly be required. After the black market infrastructure has decayed, taxes should be steadily raised to discourage use. Expand prevention programs and efforts targeted at youth. Experimentation with drugs, alcohol, tobacco and inhalants has increased in recent years. Families, communities and schools need to identify and concentrate prevention efforts on the kids who are at high risk for becoming seriously involved in drug use. What is needed is not simply an anti-drug program, but a comprehensive effort that: (1) provides counseling around the problems from which drugs are often an escape; (2) provides stimulating curricula in schools; (3) provides peer group activities that are constructive and safe; (4) provides opportunities for athletics, recreation, and socializing across the wide variety of interests that kids have; (5) effectively intervenes in cases of domestic violence; (6) effectively promotes and supports teen pregnancy prevention; and (7) promotes non-violent dispute resolution. Offer economic alternatives and build effective schools. The opportunities of drug trafficking offer enormously tempting routes to reach the American dream of prosperity. Ending prohibition will close off much of the huge underground economy. Training in the legitimate tools of entrepreneurship must be offered to our children, and economic opportunities need to be created to provide real alternatives to crime for the young. In addition to an education that prepares our youth for the workplace of the 21st century, youth must learn that for them opportunity truly exists. Ending drug prohibition is the key to sharply reducing the violence and crime that make business investment in inner cities such an infrequent reality. The elimination of prohibition-related crime will draw manufacturing, research and development, retail, and housing into communities with readily available labor that are already equipped with the infrastructure of rental buildings, public utilities, and transportation. 7. Be honest and self-critical In September 1994, the Research Triangle Institute (a highly-respected research institution hired by the National Institute of Justice to study high school drug abuse prevention programs) reported that D.A.R.E. -- the largest drug abuse prevention program in the country -- was ineffective in reducing drug use among teenagers. The Justice Department chose not to publish the study, and D.A.R.E. America attempted to intimidate the American Journal of Public Health when its editors decided to publish these important conclusions. If policymakers were really concerned that a large percentage of teenagers were truly becoming much less fearful of cocaine use, they would to take action to protect children from the inadequacies of drug prevention programs that receive over $400 million in Federal funds annually. 8. Respect other peoples, other nations and other cultures It is pathetic for America to blame other countries for our drug problems. Government corruption is a global epidemic that is spread by drug prohibition, and tragically such corruption exists in many places in the United States. America s failed domestic drug policies aggravate the corruption problems in many other societies. Careful economic research has shown that there is no crop eradication strategy and no military operation overseas that can substantially reduce the availability of drugs in the U.S. The notion that it is more efficient or more economical to stop drugs at the source has been conclusively shown to be false. To deploy military or paramilitary forces against peasants who grow coca or opium not only wastes money, it politically strengthens anti- Western, anti-government political insurgencies. To incarcerate mules who are at the bottom of the distribution organizations is a waste of very expensive prison space. Indians in Peru and Bolivia chew coca leaf, and professionals drink coca tea -- these are harmless practices. Those practices are the business of those societies, not ours. It is silly that coca users in Peru and Bolivia are international outlaws in violation of the Single Convention on Narcotics. Under regulation and genuine control, coca growing will be less profitable than it is now. U.S. anti-narcotics policy now includes a variety of economic development schemes for the Andes. Andean economic development must be sustainable; it will never succeed dependent on gimmicks, subsidies, or price supports. As long as prohibition remains in place, legitimate economic development can never be an effective anti- narcotics strategy because the legitimate economy can never be more profitable than prohibition-induced drug trafficking or cultivation. In our own country, peyote (which contains the entheogenic alkaloid mescaline) is the sacrament of the Native American Church. The use of peyote by members of the church has been protected under Federal law (but not state law) since 1965. There is no evidence of a peyote abuse problem, but Indians and non-Indians are prosecuted for their possession of peyote. With the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994, Native Americans will no longer be subject to criminal prosecution and religious persecution by various states for possession or use of peyote for bona fide traditional ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion. Spiritual peyote use is no more drug use than sacramental wine consumed at Communion is drug use, and thus religious peyote use must be protected. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all people are free to be religious seekers. Peyote use by non-Indians is not a social or public health problem. All Americans should be free to use peyote in a religious manner, without regard to their race or parentage. 9. Recognize that drugs are a major commodity in international trade Drugs have been a part of international trade since coffee, tea and spices were introduced to Europe centuries ago. This trade has never been stopped by banning it, and it can t be. Take control of this enormous trade away from criminals and corrupt customs officials by regulating it and taxing it. What the world community needs from the U.S. is a substantially intensified fight against the enormous power of prohibition-based drug trafficking cartels. The legitimate elements in Colombia and Mexico, for example, are continually being subverted by prohibition-financed corruption. The U.S. should deploy its largely incorrupt Justice and Treasury Departments against the highest level drug traffickers, and after prohibition is ended, continue the fight against other criminal subversion of legitimate governments and the global economy. Simultaneously, the U.S. should renounce increasing cigarette exports as a principal objective of U.S. trade policy. It is not criminal, simply despicable, to push an addictive and dangerous drug on others. Americans, pushing tobacco in Asia, are as contemptible as the British when they forced China to accept Indian opium in the 19th century. 10. Be creative and flexible to meet our goals Through regulation, encourage means of drug administration that are less harmful and easier to control -- physically, socially, culturally, and legally. Be restrictive of more harmful means, or means that are harder to control. For example, try to limit smoking of drugs -- nicotine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana -- which gives intense rushes but which is much more harmful and harder to control than other forms of ingestion. Smoking can be discouraged. Oral ingestion is less intense, less habit-forming, and less harmful, and perhaps can be encouraged as an alternative when appropriate. 11. Turn down the volume on drug messages Drugs should neither be promoted, nor hysterically attacked. Prevent drug advertising from being aimed at youth, for example, via Spuds MacKenzie (the dog promoting Budweiser) or Camel cigarette s Joe Camel/Smooth Character, or in youth- oriented media. Keep anti-drug messages in front of children but keep them reasonable and truthful. The This is your brain, This is your brain on drugs, Any questions? TV spot featuring a skillet and frying eggs is an example of a ludicrous anti-drug message. Its dishonesty and exaggeration invited contempt. Some young people asked friends to get stoned by saying, Want to fry an egg? To bombard children with the message that the most important thing in world is that you shouldn t do drugs inevitably is an enticement. TV PSAs that show realistic scenarios affirming kids who decline drugs offered by friends are important. Anti-drug messages should be interspersed with appropriate messages regarding safer-sex and pregnancy prevention practices, staying in school, non- violence, etc. TV PSAs should be part of community-wide, integrated anti-drug programs such as Project STAR, developed with NIDA assistance. Conclusion Whatever we do about drugs, sadly there will continue to be drug use and drug abuse. By thinking about drug use as a moral crusade, and maintaining prohibition and zero tolerance, we exempt the drug trade from any regulation and control. Prohibition maximizes the violence and disease associated with drugs. Prohibition keeps drugs inordinately profitable and continuously tempts people -- all over the world -- to sell them for easy money. This proposed anti-prohibition strategy is not for legalizing drugs for legalization s sake -- ending prohibition is simply the recognition that legal markets are more easily controlled, regulated, and effectively policed, more humane toward those who are ensnared in the miseries of drugs, and ultimately cost-effective. Those who propose that the fight against drug abuse can only take place if there is an enforced consensus and no debate or discussion of the issues are ignorant of history. The existence of facts is not determined by a vote. Those who believe that only prohibition can reduce drug use ignore the 44 million Americans who have quit smoking cigarettes. Those who favor prohibition who refuse to talk with those who criticize prohibition demonstrate to the world that they lack confidence in their position. If those who promote the current strategy were confident that it was effective, they would welcome debate, not fear the criticism implicit in the advocacy of legalization. James Burke, the Chairman of the Partnership for a Drug Free America, is concerned that allowing discussion of legalization demotivates the anti-drug warriors. That is probably true, but that is not the fault of the legalizers, it is the fault of the drug war strategy, for the Strategy is failing and the few successes are insignificant. If those in the trenches fighting the drug war believed they were successful, they would not be demotivated by anything said by the relative handful of legalizers. If they are demoralized probably it is because, in their hearts, they know they are not succeeding. If the chairmen of Ford, Chrysler or General Motors said that Toyota and BMW should not be allowed to advertise, or Saabs and Hondas should not be reviewed in Car and Driver because it demotivated their workers, it would appear they were afraid of the marketplace and we would consider them unfit to lead their corporations. The American people give the Federal government failing grades in the fight against drugs and they know that our current strategy is not working. But they are tired of being afraid of being robbed or burgled or shot at, and seeing kids on drugs, and they want changes and positive results. When Americans are asked if they favor legalization, they dissent strongly. What models of legalization have they had the opportunity to consider? They don t want crack sold in the Safeway or heroin sold like popcorn. For good reason they don t want drugs (and alcohol and tobacco) sold to their kids. But is the only drug policy choice one between the current, failed approach of prohibition or the pure, unregulated free-market that actually exists almost nowhere in the American economy? Is the world of drug policy somehow uniquely only black or white? The reality is that there is a middle ground of regulation and control, consistent with traditional American values and capitalism, that offers us hope of helping more people, reducing crime and violence, preventing disease, and protecting individual privacy. The Atlanta Resolution says that legalization is a simplistic solution, and thus should be rejected. In reality, legalization is much less simplistic than prohibition, zero tolerance or just say no. To reject all proposals, even the sophisticated ones, without reading them and critiquing them, is evidence of fear, not confidence in the correctness of the Strategy of prohibition. To remotivate America to fight drugs requires an effective, sophisticated, non- prohibition strategy that is free of the hypocrisy, exaggeration, viciousness, divisiveness and partisanship that has characterized the war on drugs. What America could use is a good dose of fair and honest discussion about drug policy. If we won t talk calmly with each other about one of our nation s most serious problems, then truly, our democracy is likely to fail and fade away. ERIC E. STERLING Eric E. Sterling is the President of The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. His analysis of criminal justice issues is regularly sought by top Federal officials and the national news media. He frequently lectures at colleges and universities, and to professional societies. Mr. Sterling served as Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary from 1979 until 1989. On the staff of the Subcommittee on Crime, (Rep. William J. Hughes (D-NJ), Chairman), he was responsible for many issues including drug enforcement, gun control, money laundering, organized crime, pornography, terrorism, corrections, and military assistance to law enforcement. He was a principal aide in developing the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988. Since 1981 he has worked closely with the nation s police to blunt attacks on the 1968 Gun Control Act, and to more effectively control armor piercing ammunition, plastic firearms, machine guns, assault weapons, and explosives. Mr. Sterling was an adjunct lecturer at The American University, School of Justice. He is admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Society of Criminology, and the American Public Health Association. Mr. Sterling has been honored by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for his assistance to their law enforcement missions. THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICY FOUNDATION A criminal justice system that is honest, fair and effective is one of America s most important institutions. The character of our national life depends upon our safety and our liberty which depend upon the integrity and effectiveness of our justice system. It was an awareness of the grave threats to the American criminal justice system that inspired Boston-businessman and philanthropist Robert C. Linnell to establish The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in 1988. The foundation is a non-profit educational tax-exempt charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation promotes innovative solutions to problems facing the criminal justice system. The foundation assists policy makers, criminal justice professionals, and the public to prevent crime and improve the quality of justice by disseminating information through education programs, publications, and the news media. The foundation also provides advice regarding legal organization, outreach, research, media relations, legislation, and coalition building. The foundation provides speakers to all types of organizations. The foundation is collaborating with other foundations, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department on Justice, in sponsoring a National Forum on Youth Violence, May 31 - June 2, 1995. The foundation supports the educational work of the National Drug Strategy Network (NDSN). The Network distributes a comprehensive monthly newsletter, NewsBriefs and meets periodically in Washington, D.C. For more information, contact: The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation 1899 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20036-3804 phone: 202-835-9075. firstname.lastname@example.org YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.