drug wars

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MORNING PANEL II - SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THE WAR ON DRUGS DAVID COLE, MODERATOR...Wednesday, October 4, 2000 - Georgetown University Law Center


PROFESSOR DASH: In 1997, the "American Lawyer" named him one of the top 45 public sector lawyers under the age of forty-five. He is the author of "No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System," which was named best nonfiction book in 1999, and the best policy book by the American Society of Political Science.

Professor Cole.

DAVID COLE: Thank you, Sam.

According to the United States Public Health Service, unlike most other things in our society, illegal drug use is evenly distributed by race. Blacks are 13 percent of the general population. They're about 14 percent of illegal drug users. Whites are about 70-some percent of the general population and 70-some percent of illegal drug users.

There are no direct statistics on drug dealing, but most users say they get their drugs from same race dealers, and so that's likely to be evenly distributed as well.

Yet enforcement of the drug laws is, by far--is far from evenly distributed. Blacks, as I said, are 14 percent of illegal drug users, yet every year, they are 35 percent of those arrested for drug possession, 55 percent of those convicted for drug possession, and 74 percent of those sentenced to serve time for drug possession.

So for a crime they commit at a level proportionate to their representation in the population at large, blacks are incarcerated at a rate nearly six times their representation in the population at large.

At the same time black communities, especially inner city black communities, suffer most from the consequences of illegal drug use. Crack houses, open-air drug markets, street violence associated with drugs are a common feature of inner city communities. They are not a common feature of the suburbs, although I understand that Howard Safir's trying to change that.

And so the--there, there's a very--there's a--this--the, the subject that this panel deals with is how do you respond to that paradox, that African Americans are, are victimized both by drugs, and by the War On Drugs?

We're going to begin with a short clip from the upcoming documentary on the War On Drugs.

We're going to begin with Zachary Carter, a graduate of Cornell and NYU Law School. He has spent the bulk of his career in law enforcement.

ZACHARY CARTER: Good morning. I think we, we have to begin by asking ourselves the right questions on, on this very difficult issue, and what I understand this panel is commissioned to address is whether or not the social costs of our current enforcement strategy can be justified, and I think that we examine that basically in two ways.

First, comparing the social cost, that is, the disparate incarceration rate of racial minorities, the length of time that those persons are incarcerated, the social consequences to their families of their incarceration, and measure that against the success or failure of our current drug strategy. And then we also compare the social cost against the cost and harms of use.

Even when you ask the right questions, I think the answers in this field are very difficult. They're difficult, I think, because of the limits of information. They're difficult, I think, in the main, because the discussion is hopelessly politicized. That they--that there are topics of conversation that we really need to seriously discuss, that are considered to be taboo, at least in the political arena, which is why we have not been able to come up, in my view, with a, a coherent strategy for dealing with the problem of, of--of substance abuse.

The one sense I have had, from the time that I started as an assistant United States attorney in 1975 in Eastern District of New York, a district that covers Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Staten Island, so it's part inner city and part suburban--from the time that I started as an assistant to the time that I became United States attorney, from 1993 to 1996, I've certainly had the sense that, that as a nation on drug enforcement, that we've been running place.

When I was an assistant United States attorney, I remember prosecuting a case involving one kilogram of cocaine. That was a "big deal" in our office in 1975, and I had to be a relatively senior assistant United States attorney to handle a case involving one kilogram of cocaine.

By the time I became United States attorney in 1993, one kilogram of cocaine was approximately 99 kilos below our threshold limit for taking a case into the federal system, and it cost a heck of a lot less on the street.

There did not appear to be a targeted effort to focus on neighborhood level distribution organizations. There appeared to have been a, a faith, however unjustified, that simply by making high volumes of--high, high numbers of arrests, that, somehow, the drug problem would be, would be adequately addressed, and when I say the "drug problem," I mean drug distribution as, as--as an enterprise.

MR. COLE: Thank you. Next, we'll hear from Judge Robert Sweet. He is a graduate of Yale and Yale Law School. He was appointed to the bench by President Carter in 1978, where he has served, ever since, as the--a U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York.

In that capacity, he declared the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which many see as part of the problem here, unconstitutional. His views were not accepted by higher authorities and--but he has continued to criticize their constraints on sentencing discretion of federal judges.

JUDGE ROBERT SWEET: Good morning. I think what--first of all, let me just start by saying I think we ought to look at the terms of this debate, or this discussion, and get rid of some of the rhetoric. We talk about a War On Drugs. Well, if it's a war on drugs, then Pogo's maxim a--applies. "We have met the enemy and he is us." We're not under attack from a sovereignty from outside. No "evil empire" is against us. It's a problem within the society. It rises out of the use of drugs that are dangerous to individuals, and, on occasion, to society.

So it--let's be honest with ourselves. It is a social problem, very much like alcohol and tobacco, and so I would say that the issue is sort of this way. Has the criminal pro--prohibition on drugs, the way we've decided to use the law to deal with this problem, has it resulted in social justice? Has it been fair? Has it strengthened the society? Has it been just? That is, have the means justified the ends? And of course you probably recognize already that my answer to these questions is no.

As far as fairness is concerned, the moderator has already explained to you, and give you the statistics with which--establish that the administration of this policy has resulted in Jim Crow justice. Now that's a very deep and ugly wound to our body politick, and in our effort to have a society that's fair to all races. And the statistics are, have been cited to you and I won't repeat them, except the obvious fact is that the results are skewed to the detriment of our black citizens, and the result is that one in every three black man over the age of 18, in the United States, is in the courts of--the criminal justice system. One out of every 180 white men.

So that tells you, flatly, what the situation is. You've also heard from the moderator that this isn't a question just of enforcement. This is a question of law. This is something that Congress has done. And you've heard also that Congress was told, with respect to the disparity between crack and cocaine, that disparity of a 100 to one, which is irrational on any basis--that that disparity was called to--the inequity of that disparity was called to Congress's attention by the Sentencing Commission itself, and made a recommendation. Congress refused to act.

It's also, I think, obvious, that our whole system--if you look at the panel that we have just heard in a, in its charitable way--in a charitable way, you're using the criminal laws to sweep people up to deal with a social problem, and of course imprisonment is a very serious and difficult undertaking. It's the harshest penalty we have. It rips apart families. It destroys jobs. It creates prejudice. It affects communities. The reality of this penalty of imprisonment has to be faced, and faced honestly.

So my answer to--my first question is, Is it fair? No; demonstrably. Has it strengthened the society? Again I say no, it has not. We have our constitutional rights. It's the bedrock of our society. We all believe in those rights, and yet those rights have been weakened as a result of the effort to criminalize the use of drugs. Post-conviction bail. Attorney-client relationships. Forfeitures. The changes in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.... You can get a search warrant on an anonymous tip of an unreliable informant. Warrantless searches of barns. Lowering the ceiling. The Supreme Court's gonna have a question about thermal searching in its new term, and of course search warrants issued by officers in good faith.

So some say this is the drug exception to the Fourth Amendment. And on top of that, of course, we have to recognize that our police have been corrupted. The fact--today's paper, on the way here, talks about a policeman in New York City laundering a million dollars. And this corruption is coast to coast. I'm sure everybody's familiar with what's happened in Los Angeles.

So what we have, I believe, is a weakening of our institutions, not a strengthening of them.

Well, now, if that's true, is it worthwhile? Have the means justified the ends? Maybe this is Jeremy Bentham, or maybe it's just practicality, or whatever it is. Has it worked? And you've heard the statistics on that. The answer is that the drug use is relatively constant. It hasn't changed since 1990. Maybe there are 3 million hard-core cocaine users, and a million heroin users, but that's a relatively small part of our population.

If our question is the health of our citizens and the cost of the addiction, then look--let's look at drugs, don't demonize them, treat them as the social or health problem which they are, and of course by using the criminal law, we've placed a terrible burden on ourselves.

You've heard, again, the statistics, the 2 million who are presently in jail, and our rate of incarceration. Here we are, in the United States, and we have the highest rate of any Western nation, leaving aside Russia, say 641 people per 100,000 in jail, whereas the Western nations are all under two--two hundred people per 100,000. So--and on top of that, it's costing us what? 30-, 40 million--billion dollars a year to maintain this system.

What drives this is money. What is behind this trade is money, and we ought to recognize, as Bob Stutman was saying, figure out what the objective is and eliminate these prices, and treat it as a health problem, end the criminal prohibition, restore a just society.

MR. COLE: Thank you, Judge Sweet.

Our last panelist is Mayor Kurt Schmoke. He's a graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School. He's most known of course as a tremendously successful mayor of Baltimore from 1987 to 1999.

KURT SCHMOKE: Thanks very much, David. I'm a recovering politician [inaudible].


I want to come at this in a slightly different way than what we've heard thus far, and, and I ask you to use your imagination for a moment, and I ask you to, to imagine yourself as a, a parent of two children.

One child is a teenage boy. You're very busy people, but you come home one day, and you find out that your son is a, a drug user, and you're very disappointed. The question I ask you is, Is your instinct to call the police and have your son arrested? Or is it to call a health professional to have him treated?

Do you think of him as somebody to be incarcerated for years and years, or as somebody who's made a mistake, maybe bad judgment, but one day he'll do something good, positive, maybe even run for President?

Do you impose family sanctions there, or do you seek out the criminal justice sanction for your son, your teenage son? And while you're thinking about it, if you hear about the son of some other person across town, who you don't know, and you hear that person is also a substance abuser, do you think, first, that that person should be arrested or that person should be treated? That's your teenage son.

Now you have a daughter. She's college age. She's a good student. Goes off to your college, and you're very proud of her.

She falls in love with some older guy, thinks he's a graduate student, and living off-campus, and, in fact, he's not only not a student but unbeknownst to her, he's running a, a drug operation, a multistate drug operation. She falls deeply in love with him. She actually becomes abused, a victim of domestic violence. According to the police and prosecutors who eventually get him, that she neither takes drugs, she doesn't benefit from the sale, she doesn't, in any way, profit from this.

But what she does do during the course of her relationship with this guy, she, she puts--he buys a car which she allows him to put in her name, buys an apartment which she allows to put in her name, and she sends--takes some money, drops off some money to a lawyer on his behalf. Prosecutors come in and they finally charge the--this guy, this boyfriend of hers with running a, a drug operation, and even with murder. And they decide to charge her with being a conspirator. But she gets counsel and she plea bargains, and, and decides to testify against this guy, and tells the Government all that they want to know about him, and he is convicted.

And then she comes back into court, thinking, well, I've--you know--I had this bad relationship. I will now, hopefully, get leniency by the court. But instead of getting leniency, your daughter gets sentenced, because of mandatory sentencing laws, to 24 and a half years in prison.

In terms of strategies and implementation, it appears that our drug war really fits what Congressman Barney Frank has said, that it was not racist in its intent but it has become, in implementation, an enforcer of racism. It is, as Judge Sweet mentioned, the "new Jim Crow."

And so, in my view, we do need to have a War On Drugs, but the War On Drugs should be primarily--and I emphasize this--primarily a public health war rather than a criminal justice war.

I would propose that in terms of common ground strategies, that we invest in the treatment programs, we eliminate mandatory minimums, we permit record expungement for youth offenders, we eliminate racial profiling, pursue alternatives to incarceration. But I tell you, ultimately, my personal view is that we're not gonna win this unless we pursue policies that take the profit outta distributing drugs at the street level, recognize that we have to take some emotion out of this debate, help end what I feel is our domestic Vietnam, and listen as people, such as the ones we heard today, talk about this intervention in Colombia, using the terms insane, misguided and fraudulent.

If Congress listened to those gentlemen talk about it in that fashion, why, other than politics, are they pursuing this misguided strategy?

MR. COLE: We're gonna have a, a short discussion among the panelists now. Three of you--all three of you have been prosecutors, two of you have, have been or are judges, and I want--I want you to speak for a moment on what you believe you can or should do as a prosecutor, or as a judge, in light of the racial disparities that we've talked about.

Can you con--if you're a prosecutor and, and--and you, you know the 14 percent of--that African Americans are 14 percent of drug users and yet they're 35 percent of those arrested by the police and brought to you for prosecution, can you take that into account? Do you have a responsibility to take that into account?

If you're a judge, can you take into account that a per--person sentenced--up for sentencing before you is a young black man from an inner city community with ver--very few options as opposed to--or as compared to a white, affluent, suburban young man? Is--are there things that can be done within the system by those who are implementing the system, prosecutors and judges, to respond to this problem?

MR. CARTER: I think that you can--to the extent that you have to live with a sentencing scheme, that may not be ideal, that there's still flexibility, particularly with prosecutors, to some extent, distressingly, more flexibility than there are for sentencing judges, in ensuring that the laws are enforced as fairly as they can be within, within these frameworks.

With respect to whether or not you can make a race-conscious decision in terms of enforcement, in order to, to kind of bring fairness back in, into the system, what I suggest is that what a prosecutor can do, and what law enforcement officials generally should do is to take into account--to have in the back of their minds the incredible social cost of the, the--the use of our laws at their extreme, so that we hesitate to use an enforcement strategy that, without purpose, sends a young black or Latino person to jail for an inordinate period of time, if not more important law enforcement objective is going to be achieved.

JUDGE SWEET: I think, from the judge's point of view, if you've listened to what Zack has just said, you realize that the decision, the discretion, the play in the joints in this system are all in the hands of the prosecutor. It's only the prosecutor that can bring the 5(k)(1) motion and ameliorate the mandatory minimums or the guidelines. Now the guidelines are a whole other subject, because they reflect, I, I say, from my obvious parochial position, a dislike and distrust of judges. Before the guidelines, I could do, and did just exactly what David has suggested.

I took into account the circumstance of a defendant, history, background, family, et cetera, et cetera, role in the offense--all of those, and tried to achieve a just result, and those sentences, I think--I am absolutely persuaded from my own point of view, that those sentences were far more just than the grid, and the arbitrary system which we have today.

MR. SCHMOKE: One of the problems is that-- somewhat pointed out when you look at our various positions along the system. I was a prosecutor. I was a, a tough prosecutor, both as an assistant U.S. attorney and as state's attorney. I listened to Commissioner Safir talk about seizing vehicles with respect to drunk driving.

When I was state's attorney, we seized a lotta vehicles as it related to, to drug offenses. Somebody described me once as the largest used car dealer in town, and, and--and so we were, we were really tough on that, and from a local point of view it is your priority in going after trying to make safe neighborhood. You really don't have a lotta discretion to worry about what, what the, the impact of all this, this is in terms of racial disparity.

You step back, though, you become the mayor, and you're looking at a variety of situations and you're saying, wait a minute, I've got--yeah, I've gotta keep this neighborhood safe, but I'm also disrupting all these families. I'm taking away this guy's right to vote. I'm--I forget this man is not gonna be able to come out and work. I got a lotta prisoners that are gonna come back into my community. I've gotta do something with the broader policy. I gotta do something that this, this broader--and I got AIDS because a intravenous drug users.

And so, at some point, you have to both focus in on the day-to-day neighborhood situation and try to do something about the broader national policy, and that's what we tried to do.

So what I'm si--simply suggesting is that there's some areas here of common ground, and if we can agree to forget the labels, and, and go together and talk to these--the, the national leaders--and it's gotta be at, at--at Congress, to do this, and say, folks, look--there's areas here that are doing much more harm than good.

But, but there are areas that are in need of reform, and if you listen to us, listen to the DEA agent in the field, listen to the police commissioners and correctional people who are saying we can't prosecute our way outta this crime.

We're just saying instead of having a--this huge multi-billion dollar budget that goes, now, two-thirds or more to law enforcement, rather than the treatment, let's change, let's change the allocation here and change some of the policies, and look at it as a health approach...we would have not only a safer country, not, not to play on your name, but, but we would have--we would have a more just country, and that I think is what we're looking for.

JUDGE SWEET: I--history teaches me that our friends in Congress are not going to move until they understand where the community is, and I think we must get community awareness, and they must--the community must understand these issues.

So I think we really need to get these facts and, and ideas out into the community, and have community support to--before we're going to get political support.

MR. COLE: And how, how do you, any of you, respond to Commissioner Safir's claim, that drug law enforcement has made New York City one of the safest cities in the country, combined with the, the--the arguments of people like Charles Rangel and Professor Randall Kennedy at Harvard, that because drug crime disparately harms the black community, it's in the black community's interest to have the kind of law enforcement that Congressman-that Commissioner Safir is talking about?

They have brought crime down, made it safer for people in those communities, and so tho--for those of you, particularly Mayor Schmoke and Judge Sweet, who seem to be arguing against a law enforcement response, how do you respond to those members of the community?

MR. COLE: Zack Carter?

MR. CARTER: I think that, that what we have to accept, though, and, and certainly as a, as an African American U.S. attorney who had considerable dialogue on this issue with other African American U.S. attorneys around the country, we have to accept that the demand for increased federal intervention in inner city communities very often comes from the same African American communities that have to suffer the consequences of an enforcement strategy that takes young African American men out of the community and incarcerates them.

These are the same communities, though, that--whose residents, particularly during the late 1980's and early 1990's, were having to counsel their young children to crawl beneath their window sills in order to avoi--avoid random gunfire that was at--was the product of warring crack gangs competing for turf.

So we were ta--we're talking about addressing--we're talking about two parallel dis--uh, uh, uh--disparate impacts on African American and Latino communities. The effect of, of drug enforcement policy and the effect of drug trafficking, and the, the issue is, is how do we keep these things--you know--as Kurt says, in balance?

MR. SCHMOKE: Just quickly, Dave, and I think Zack's got it right. The, the--the African American/Latino community is screaming, "Please make us safe from drugs," and, and--and police departments are responding. But they're also screaming, "Please keep us safe from racial profiling," which has become an outgrowth of all this.

So it's, it's--it's crying out in a lotta different directions, and what I think--Judge Sweet hit it right--what they're just crying for, ultimately, is justice, and justice includes the reduction of drug impacts in their community and the disproportionate negative impact of law enforcement strategies in the community.

MR. COLE: Okay. We're gonna take questions from the audience.

MR. (unidentified): Yes. I'd like to ask why it is that you think that neither of the presidential candidates are discussing this subject and whether that is fair to the thousands of African American and Latinos that are currently serving prison sentences. Thank you.

MR. SCHMOKE: Let me just--put on my hat as a candidate--I'm looking at numbers, and I see over the last four years, or last eight years, crime in the United States has, has gone down. Cities, by certain measurements, are safer. Then you simply say, well, what I did was I put a 100,000 police officers, or my administration put a 100,000 police officers out on the street, and that has resulted in this reduction.

Just a political matter, now, as Zack said, unless we push it up there, the candidates, just looking at the numbers, are gonna say things are safe in, in the, the big cities now, and I don't worry about these millions of people who are incarcerated. But things are safe, it's not a political issue, so we'll ignore it.

JUDGE SWEET: And, and I think there, there are two things at work here and they're both very disturbing. One is I don't think that people really, honestly, want to talk about race in America. I'm afraid that that's so. I'm afraid that they do not want to talk about the fact that the gap between the rich and the poor is growing rather than lessening.

I don't think they want--people just don't want to hear that. And the other easy assumption is that drugs are somehow demonic, and that drugs are responsible for all of this, and it isn't really a human problem, it's just drugs. They won't view it as a mind-altering substance like alcohol or whatever. So I think, politically, I would like to say I, I think that we should have a campaign that talks about justice, I mean, in the large sense, not just the mechanics, but a just America. And, regrettably, I, I think it's politically unpalatable today.

MR. SCHMOKE: If suburban kids started getting arrested for Ecstasy, and mandatory minimums were imposed on them for using Ecstasy at these rave parties, this would be an issue on the presidential campaign. But as long as that's not happening and it's focused, and we continue this two-level War On Drugs, with one community getting treated and the other community getting incarcerated, then the candidates are just going to ignore this.

MR. COLE: Mary Larson.

MARY LARSON: Good morning. My question is about normalization and glamorization of drug use, which we already have in this country, particularly around drugs like marijuana and Ecstasy. This glamorization or normalization has led to a decline in the perception of risk among young people, about the harms of drugs, and also a greater acceptance among their peers of drug use. How could legalization possibly reduce youth drug use?

JUDGE SWEET: First of all, as far as use, the statement is made by Bob Stutman as just a categorical fact, that, yes, there will be wider use if it's legalized, if the criminal prohibition has been removed.

You know, I've got to stop this legalized. I'm an abolitionist. I'm not a legalizer. However, that's an easy assumption to make. I'm, I'm not sure that it's true, because drugs are generally available today. So I'm not sure that the--that there won't be an increase, and there is this question of a glamorization, and, and the edge is perhaps taken off of marijuana when you see it portrayed in an everyday setting in drama, or movies, or whatever.

So I think--but I think that contrary to--is that bad or good? Well, I say it's good because we've got to look at this for the honest problem that it is. It is a problem just like alcohol.

Look--the answer is tobacco. Tobacco is the most addicting of all the drugs, and drug--and that drug usage has been cut, dramatically, because people now understand the risks, and America is quite unique in this regard.

So, you know, if, if we can get the facts, I think the people will respond.

MR. SCHMOKE: Yeah. I also believe that it's very important that, in ten or eleven years of many debates on this, this question, I think that we have to make sure that, that you don't go from saying that something is a positive good just because there's not a criminal sanction.

That is, that we're, we're fighting a war on alcohol and tobacco in the United States, and even though tobacco by--the Surgeon General says it kills 400,000 people a year--we've chosen to fight that war as a public health war. Education, body bag commercials now, a real tough, hard message to kids--this is bad for you, it hurts your body. No glamorization. Don't allow ads now, don't allow this stuff in your, your, your schools. That kind of--those kinds of public health messages can continue, whether there's a criminal sanction or not.

And so I guess I just--my view is that taking a, a--the criminal sanctions away from it doesn't necessarily mean that we are now announcing that this is a positive good. We will continue to fight substance abuse, but we will all substances of, of abuse through a public health approach.

MR. COLE: Zack Carter.

MR. CARTER: Just, just to follow up on, on Judge Sweet's point about having honest dialogue about, at least com--in comparing alcohol and marijuana. I mean, we, we--I think that we have a comfortable hypocrisy in the society about alcohol use. First of all, we talk about the harms caused by alcohol. We talk about it as a product, not of alcohol use per se, but alcohol abuse, because alcohol is widely used, but there's a general acceptance that there's a level of alcohol consumption that is not necessarily harmful. Even though alcohol is, is primarily imbibed because it is a mood-altering substance, our collective hypocrisy tells us that we, we drink it for other reasons.

You don't have those same kinds of excuses when it comes to using marijuana. No one says--oh, remember the old cigarette commercials, "Just for the taste of it"? Nobody says that about marijuana consumption because people have to honestly acknowledge that they're using it as a mood-altering substance. It seems to me that the question that you have to ask about marijuana--and I, frankly, don't know the answer to it, but I think it's worth investigating--is whether or not there is an element, there is an extent of marijuana use that also is no more harmful than moderate use of alcohol. If it is true that there is a level of consumption that, that is the equivalent of moderate consumption of alcohol, then it seems to me that you draw different conclusions about marijuana use and where it should fall in the scheme of things with respect to, to--to enforcement.

MR. SCHMOKE: That is, if--we ought to decide--look at each substance of abuse, and decide what its harms are, not only to the individual but to society. And I had a interesting experience--and just briefly--at the White House, when I was still mayor, back in the last century, a group of mayors went to see the President, and it was at a conference about substance abuse, and, and General McCaffrey and a lotta people were there, and they allowed me to ask one question.

And I said Mis--Mr. President, you've done a remarkable job in fighting tobacco abuse, and you gotta be applauded, and it's a major public health problem. But ask--answer me this. If I'm holding, in one hand, a substance that your Surgeon General says kills 400,000 people a year, and in my other hand a similar green leafy substance that the Surgeon General said there's no known recorded deaths from the simple ingestion of it, why do we fight a war against this one as a public health war, and a war against this substance as a criminal justice war? And as a simple question. And, and you know the answer--the bottom line to the answer is culture, history, and politics.

MR. COLE: Bill Moffat [ph].

BILL MOFFAT: I've spent 25 years being a practicing lawyer. I've been to innumerable symposiums on the drug war. I have listened to hundreds of statements of statistical evidence of the racism that exists in the drug war.

Why is a 50-year-old African American male, who has dedicated his life to being part of the system, should I believe, at this particular point, that any good is going to come, and any change is going to be made?

MR. SCHMOKE: It's--you know, I, I think it's a good question, and, and since I'm a 50-year-old African American male, too, I, I'm trying to keep hope alive on this one. But, but the bottom line is that I have gone to enough of these ven--events, as you have, where, when you take the emotion out of this issue, and we really listen to one another, I find that there's common ground to be reached.

JUDGE SWEET: I think the analogy to the Vietnam War is a real one. I think as the facts come out, and the--and, and we're getting the facts, we're getting them in various ways every day--as the facts come out I, I just do have the confidence that the American people will ultimately recognize that from a cost-benefit, from a analysis, from the analysis of justice, if you will, there just has to be changes.

MR. CARTER: I still think that there's reason to be optimistic, though, because I think that cer--certain political taboos yield to information. Who would have thought, with, uh, uh, uh--that, that within the last two or three weeks, that there could have been a national poll on what I consider to be the, the greatest political taboo, taxes, in which the American people, you know, by, uh, uh, a fairly resounding majority, said that tax relief was among their lowest priorities? You know? And some candidates are acting accordingly.

You know, it--they're listening--they're heeding that signal. They understand that just by selling tax relief, it's not gonna get them very far. I think that on this issue, in terms of having a balanced approach to, to--to drug enforcement, to dedicating, at, at the very least, equal resources to, to treatment, I think that as the public becomes better informed about it, they will embolden their political representatives to take responsible positions.

MR. COLE: All right. That's about it in terms of time. I think it's a--it's interesting to see, and I think one ground for hope is that--it's interesting to see how many people who have spent their lives trying to fight the drug problem, are reaching common.

MR. DASH: But I think what's come out, and all three have raised this point, and the fact that there's been encouragement, and optimism, to a question that Bill Moffat puts, tells us that we have to change the story that the American people have heard.

The problem of most of our political leaders, as I have seen, is that they have told a different story to the voting public, and they don't know how to get out of that story, and that story has demonized, as you say, Judge Sweet, drugs, and legitimized our present policy.

People like yourselves, and others on the panel, former law enforcement officers, former police chiefs, DEA agents, who can give an articulate reeducation of the public, the real story, can lead the public to give the courage to their political leaders to change policy.

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