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adv. in-san'i-ty
1. mentally deranged. 2. of or for insane persons.
3. utterly senseless

By David Perk, Prisoner of War in America

I am currently serving a twenty-year sentence in a federal prison for a non-violent drug offense. After having made a decision to get out of the drug business after a short endeavor, I was befriended by an acquaintance of five years, who introduced me to a "friend" of his who in reality was an undercover police officer. This person and I became good friends as well and after several months of begging me to help me out of his financial problem, I succumbed to his pleas and made arrangements for what he had asked for. At the time I had very little money, so I got the drugs on credit, and passed them along to him on credit. One week later I was arrested The charge carried a ten year mandatory minimum to life sentence, so I followed my attorney's advice and pled guilty, accepting a seven to nine year plea bargain from the U.S. prosecutor. When I went before the judge at sentencing, the same prosecutor was suddenly arguing that I receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole. All because I didn't inform on my friends. When it was over the judge said he would do me a favor and sentenced me to twenty years. I had never been in trouble with the law before in my life, and now I must serve thirteen years longer than the average person spends behind bars for murder in the federal system. That's insane!

My story is not unique. There are currently over 700,000 men and women behind bars in this country as a result of this government's War on Drugs, which has gone on now for over eighty years. Take a moment to consider what we have gained as a nation, and at what cost?

Over the past several decades the taxpayers have been charged hundreds of billions of dollars to fight this war. What has been our return on this investment? Illegal drugs are flowing into this country at all time high levels. When you take a substance like cocaine and artificially inflate it's value to five times it's weight in fold, you are going to have a never-ending source of smugglers. These high profits corrupt at every level, from poverty stricken"mules" who carry these products across our borders to law enforcement agents and other government officials who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to turn a blind eye to shipments coming in. The problem of corruption is so bad in the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs that the government has recently started a policy of early retirement or termination for agents suspected of using their positions of authority to facilitate drug trafficking. They have decided not to prosecute them because the numbers are so great and this would only lend to embarrassment of the government. You can visit any maximum security prison in this country and find heroin, cocaine, marijuana and just about any other illegal substance. How do you suppose this stuff gets in? Prisoners are strip searched, including body cavities, before entering or after exiting the visiting rooms. If we can't keep it out of prisons, how do we keep it from crossing thousands of miles of open territory that forms our borders?

It's simple. History has already provided us with the answer, but for some reason our legislators refuse to acknowledge it. In 1918 Congress passed the Prohibition Act, making alcohol illegal. Organized crime sprang up overnight, bootlegging and smuggling the evil drink in from Canada and Europe. Crime in the streets escalated to levels unseen before, with innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of gang rivalries staking out their turf. But the public's thirst for liquor couldn't be quenched, and in the "roaring twenties" there were over 32,000 illegal speakeasies in New York City alone. Through public pressure and the obvious horrors created as a result of Prohibition, the federal government finally bowed its head in defeat, returning the power of regulation and control back to the states where it always belonged. Smuggling and the violent crime associated with Prohibition ended overnight, and no, we didn't become a nation of alcoholics as many had promised. Therein lies the answer.

We have never been, are not now, and never will be a drug-free society. Tobacco, now considered to be a drug and alcohol account for over 1.5 million deaths in this country alone each year, yet the number of people who die from cocaine overdoses are less than those who die as a result of falling down stairs. The government subsidizes both the tobacco and alcohol industries with your taw dollars, and profits greatly from their sales, yet marijuana, which has not been attributed to a single death through toxicity remains a criminal act punishable by life imprisonment in some cases. I won't even get into the medicinal uses and benefits derived from the plant.

The government claims through it's propaganda that it seeks to protect us with these inhuman drug laws. I contend we are better left to protect ourselves. If the government were truly concerned about our health and safety, then alcohol and tobacco should be immediately removed from the marketplace and make a criminal act to use, sell or possess. Hell, driving on bald tires should be punishable by ten years in prison. That should certainly teach us!

What separates from other members of the animal kingdom is the ability to make free choice rather than act on instinct alone. This is a God-given right and ability, clearly illustrated in the Bible when Adam and Eve made the personal decision to the forbidden fruit. This is part of being human. People have sought after altered-states of consciousness (intoxication) since they lived in caves. Most animals, if given the choice between fresh and fermented fruit, will choose the latter. Nothing is new, except this government's passion to make one form of 'chemical taste' permissible and another criminal. Our nation's constitution provides us with further protection, including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty is not just a weekend pass for sailors to go out and get drunk. It's very definition is the right to make free choice, so long as that choice holds others harmless.

So let's tally up the score. What positive aspects has the War on Drugs provided? None. What has it cost? Millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens imprisoned, millions of families destroyed. Millions of drug orphans left to become wards of the state. A constant flow of drugs across our borders, crime associated with trafficking at levels never seen before, a diversion of police protection which focuses on arresting drug users rather than protecting society from violent crime such as rape, robbery, child molestation and murder. Corruption of our public officials, hundreds of billions of precious tax dollars better spent of building schools and improving our educational system, improving our roads, providing drug treatment assistance for those who seek it, and a myriad of other constructive programs. Most importantly, it has cost us a continuing erosion or our constitutional right. Instead, we choose to build more prisons, at a cost of fifty to one hundred million dollars each and spend an average of twenty five thousand dollars per year to keep each prisoner of war behind bars. At the current rate of drug-related arrest, the federal government must build a new thousand bed prison each month, at a cost of over fifty million dollars, just to keep up, and that doesn't even include new state prisons required. The average prison guard earns twice that of a tenured school teacher, yet needs only a GED certificate to get hired.

So what is the answer? Certainly not the course we are presently on. The only viable solution to cure the 'ills' associated with the drug problem and it's ancillary destructive side-effects is to eliminate the black market through decriminalization and legalization. Remove the high profit and the violent criminal element will crawl under some other rock. And no, we will not become a nation of addicts as was feared when Prohibition ended. As a society, we need to remove the 'taboo' from drugs and replace this approach with truthful information about drug use, starting with young children. We need to explain to them that all drugs can be dangerous if used irresponsibly; that everybody's system reacts differently. Let them understand that their bodies are complex machines that to be well-maintained. When we put something toxic into our system it must be filtered out and the more stress we put on our system, the faster it wears out. Use an honest and common sense approach. By simply telling them 'no' without any dialog, we set ourselves up to fail, for we are rebellious by nature, especially when young. Let each person make their own choice, and know that with any choice comes consequences; some good and others bad. Let's stop this insane and destructive War Against Ourselves, and only then will we truly become a kinder and gentler nation.

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