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May 4, 2006 - New York Post (NY)

'$oros' D.A. Drug Outrage

Upstater Rips U.S. Policy As a Racket

By Kenneth Lovett, Post Correspondent

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

ALBANY - The upstate district attorney bankrolled by billionaire George Soros has bashed America's drug policies as a scam to give those in the criminal-justice system "a wonderful living."

Speaking Tuesday at a drug-law liberalization conference in Vancouver, Canada, Albany County District Attorney David Soares said the system is designed to hire more cops, judges, and prosecutors, and officials are afraid to reform it.

The U.S. war on drugs is a scheme by authorities to "give people a wonderful living," he said.

Soros, a tycoon, philanthropist and major contributor to Democratic causes, favors the repeal of some drug laws.

Soares, taking on the role of policing in drug enforcement, said the drug war lands mostly young black and Hispanic men in prison and helps feed an accepted "economic-development strategy" of building more prisons.

"My advice to Canada is, stay as completely far away from U.S. drug-law policy as possible," Soares said after addressing the 17th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm.

Soares, who is in his first term as DA, was ripped as an "ideologue" and "one person crying in the wilderness" by a fellow DA and president of the state District Attorneys Association, Frank Clark, of Erie County.

"There isn't a straight-thinking person in this country who would agree with something like that," Clark said.

Albany Police Chief James Tuffey questioned why the DA would impugn the integrity of law-enforcement officials while also criticizing the United States in a foreign country.

"I think it's a slap at every law-enforcement officer who puts his life on the line every day to protect the people," Tuffey said.

"We all want to reduce the violence and drug trading, and I think we need the people elected as prosecutors to support us in our endeavor."

He added that "we're not doing the enforcement of the drug laws so the officers can get rich."

Soares scored a surprise election victory in 2004 after receiving heavy funding from the Working Families Party, which had received $81,500 from the Soros-backed Drug Policy Alliance Network.

Much of that money was used for mailings in support of Soares, who defeated the incumbent DA in a bitter Democratic primary.

The Drug Policy Alliance said it did not financially back this week's Vancouver conference. But officials with Soros-backed organizations were in attendance, sources said.

In explaining the "harm reduction" approach on its Web site, the Drug Policy Alliance Network cites the need to change an "overemphasis" on the prohibition of drugs as well as on arrests and incarceration for drug use.

Randy Credico, director of the William Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, called Soares "a hero" and "gutsy."

"He is the DA history will remember as the one who shined light on a very, very evil period in the nation's history," Credico said.

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