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Why the War on Drugs is Bad for Family Values:

Social conservatives have, with some justification, long warned of the dangers of single-parenthood among the poor, which often leads to poor outcomes for children. However, some of those same social conservatives are also staunch supporters of the War on Drugs. Unfortunately, as Kerry Howley points out in a recent LA Times debate with Kay Hymowitz, the War on Drugs is a major contributor to the prevalence of fatherless children in poor black communities:

[C]hildren tend to do better when they're raised by two biological parents, along a variety of dimensions and controlling for all sorts of factors. It was always a mistake to deny that fact in the service of some larger political crusade.

Still, I'm not sure where blindly repeating "two parents are ideal" gets us. I have yet to meet a single mother who doesn't want help. The low-income single women in "Promises I Can Keep," the study of poor mothers I referenced during our pregnancy pact discussion, hope upon hope for a worthy partner to come along....

For low-income black women, the world really isn't cooperating. We put an awful lot of nonviolent black men behind bars, which is not generally conducive to good fathering. With so many young men absent, the marriage markets are heavily skewed against women, and mothers who might otherwise demand that men stay home and change diapers find themselves in a miserable bargaining position. In his book "The Logic of Life," Tim Harford describes one study indicating that "a one-percentage- point increase in the proportion of young black men in prison reduces the proportion of young black women who have ever been married by three percentage points." Now consider: In New Mexico, 30% of black men between 30 and 35 are in prison. Telling women to want marriage more just doesn't seem like an effective strategy here. Nor does it seem right to suggest that they ought not to have children at all; these women are simply responding rationally to the world as it is.

As I have noted in the past (here and here), some 55% of US federal prison inmates and 21% of state inmates are non-violent drug offenders. And over 62% of incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders are black(most of them poor black males). I don't claim that this racial disparity in drug incarceration is caused solely - or even primarily - by racial prejudice. But even if undertaken for the best of motives, it drastically reduces the available pool of marriageable men in poor black communities. And, as Kerry notes, those men who remain have far less incentive to marry because their stronger bargaining position caused by scarcity makes it easier for them to obtain sex without making any longterm commitment to the women they do it with. Even after drug offenders are released from prison, they are likely to be worse marriage prospects than before, if only because it's hard to get a steady job after being in prison for several years.

Some conservatives might argue that the kinds of men who get arrested for drug possession or dealing wouldn't make good husbands even if they stay out of prison. Perhaps that is true in some cases. But these men still probably beat the alternative of single parenthood. Moreover, Kerry's point about bargaining position is crucial here. If fewer men from these communities were in prison, there would be more competition between them in the dating market and thus stronger incentives for them to behave in ways that appeal to women. To the extent that women prefer men who don't get high to those who do, that might well include staying off the drugs - as well as becoming better providers and fathers in other ways.

UPDATE: Some commenters question the implicit assumptions of Kerry's and my bargaining position point: that many men would like to gain access to sex without making a longterm commitment, while most women prefer men who are willing to make such commitments. All I can say is that both points are backed by extensive social science evidence - far too much to summarize here. Promises I Can Keep, the book cited by Kerry, is among the studies that shows that most low-income women prefer men who will be good longterm providers. John Marshall Townsend's book What Women Want, What Men Want, provides further extensive evidence on both male and female preferences on these points. And Tim Harford's book, also cited by Kerry, provides evidence showing that marriage rates do indeed decline in communities where more men are imprisoned, suggesting that men and women respond to incentives in the way the post posits.

The point is not that men are less "moral" than women. Rather, the two sexes are responding to different incentives. Men can gain a reproductive advantage from casual sex without commitment because one man can impregnate a large number of women. Women, for obvious reasons, can't do this (because the number of pregnancies they can have is relatively fixed, regardless of how much casual sex they have). Therefore, men, on average, have a stronger interest in casual sex without commitment than women do. At the same time, they are willing to restrain such behavior and make longterm commitments if women are in a strong enough bargaining position to insist that they do so. None of these points apply to all men and all women all the time. But they do identify important general tendencies.

Bad (mail) (www):
Wait a minute: wasn't James Wilson himself in here not too long ago telling us that it's mostly only really evil drug dealers that go to jail, pleading down to these lesser charges?
6.28.2008 4:37pm
Ilya Somin:
Wait a minute: wasn't James Wilson himself in here not too long ago telling us that it's mostly only really evil drug dealers that go to jail, pleading down to these lesser charges?

What Wilson said is that most people convicted of mere possession were actually dealers. That doesn't necessarily make them "really evil." And indeed most of them are small-time, low-level dealers. In any event, Wilson is a drug war supporter, and I'm not required to agree with his views.
6.28.2008 4:42pm
Dave D. (mail):
...Great Idea Ilya. Lets release the Black burglars, dope dealers and con men so they can father more children. Perish the thought that they should go to jail for car theft, or anything else and reduces the pool of applicants for a girls fancy on Saturday night. Warrants ? Don't serve 'em. Almost all of the crime is intraracial. Their victims are black too. Lotsa of violent crimes are dealt down to the accompanying ( non violent ) crimes. And most crimes in the black community go unreported and these guys got away with it.
..But all is changed. These single mothers can marry each other. Help has arrived. Or do we let it descend to the depths of Haiten society while we only punish black on some-other-race crime ?
6.28.2008 4:54pm
pgepps (www):
Kerry's point about bargaining position is crucial here. If fewer men from these communities were in prison, there would be more competition between them in the dating market and thus stronger incentives for them to behave in ways that appeal to women.

Doesn't this assume a curiously Victorian notion that men are amoral hunter-gatherers and women nurturing fonts of morality?

At what point do the cultural messages that lead women to prefer "bad boys" until the consequences kick in, at which point they begin seeking caretakers, get some play, here? It certainly seems that this outweighs the influence of the WoD, which I also oppose, in the absent-fathers problem.

To be frank, most of the "take responsibility" types being passed over by the never-married-no-kids types are unlikely to be receptive to the advances of secondhand women with other people's kids. That's the bigger dilemma, here, I think, and TV expresses our angst about it daily.
6.28.2008 4:59pm
Should be studying for the bar... (mail):
Dave D. wrote: ...Great Idea Ilya. Lets release the Black burglars, dope dealers and con men so they can father more children.
---
Funny, I only see a comment about non-violent drug offenders.
6.28.2008 5:01pm
Ilya Somin:
Great Idea Ilya. Lets release the Black burglars, dope dealers and con men so they can father more children.

I never said that we should release "burglars" or "con men." My post was limited to nonviolent drug offenders. Try reading the post before commenting. It might help you to avoid future embarrassment.
6.28.2008 5:02pm
Ilya Somin:
Doesn't this assume a curiously Victorian notion that men are amoral hunter-gatherers and women nurturing fonts of morality?

No, it assumes that men have a strong interest in sex, and many of them will pursue that interest without making a commitment if they can get away with it. It also assumes that women tend to want men who are willing to make a commitment. Both points are backed by extensive social science evidence. Tim Harford's book, cited by Kerry, summarizes some of it.
6.28.2008 5:04pm
Ilya Somin:
Lotsa of violent crimes are dealt down to the accompanying ( non violent ) crimes.

THere is ZERO proof that such cases account for any significant fraction of the people in prison for nonviolent drug offenses. Especially in the case of those in federal prison, since federal prosecutors can't prosecute the violent offenses anyway (since nearly all of them are purely state crimes).
6.28.2008 5:06pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Is there such a thing as a non-violent drug dealer?
6.28.2008 5:08pm
Linda F (mail) (www):
They may have been convicted of a non-violent drug offense, but they're not choir boys (or girls) either. Why do the thug boys have so much success with girls? I see it every day (I teach high school), but I don't understand it. Nice guys DO get ignored by the girls. Sometimes, it's because the girl wants to have a baby - this isn't hearsay, I've had girls tell me, BEFORE they get pregnant. They don't understand that their chances of getting married, at that point, drop to a VERY low level. They believe that they can find a high-earning, attractive, great catch later. Even though they have 2 kids and a GED.

Lots of luck, ladies.
6.28.2008 5:11pm
FantasiaWHT:

But these men still probably beat the alternative of single parenthood.


That's an awful dangerous assumption there, brushing off an entire argument with such a brusque statement and no proof.
6.28.2008 5:12pm
hawkins:

Is there such a thing as a non-violent drug dealer?


Is this a serious question?
6.28.2008 5:14pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Ilya-

And, as Kerry notes, those men who remain have far less incentive to marry because their stronger bargaining position caused by scarcity makes it easier for them to obtain sex without making any longterm commitment to the women they do it with.

This is more than a little slanted. Marriage is very often a losing proposition for men, regardless of color. Witness the marriage strike. Having a woman take your children and chances at economic prosperity because she may feel "emotionally unfulfilled" while she looks for the next candidate isn't a positive outcome, and men are starting to vote with their feet in this area. And the stakes are even higher at the middle class and lower - CEOs and celebrities can to some extent afford divorces, most others can't. Virtual indentured servitude at someone's whim for something like "emotional unfulfillment" isn't a winning proposition for anyone of any sex or color - the legal system is just currently set up to hit men with it the vast majority of the time.

And as an aside in many states doesn't alimony usually end when a woman remarries? So in some cases it might behoove divorced single mothers to stay single. Boyfriends can wine and dine them and otherwise contribute economically while the income stream from the ex-husband remains intact. I'm not saying that this is a large component of the "single mother" demographic, but it is a small part of it. It would be interesting to see in which states this factor is more significant and the breakdown in percentages. Also to what extent does getting married effect the receipt of government benefits?
6.28.2008 5:15pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
You're certainly not obliged to agree with Prof. Wilson's views, Ilya, but you do need to address the data. My own experience in Louisiana's criminal justice system is that there are very few people in prison for "non-violent drug offenses" who are actually not violent people. You've got to work really hard to get into prison in most states, because the prison systems are all stretched to capacity and beyond.

What the statistics tend to miss (and I wish Prof. Wilson had been able to provide better data to support this, but the studies on prison population all have some significant flaws) is that the "most serious offense" for which the offender is currently incarcerated forms the basis for most stats, but it's the sum total of current charges and offense history which determines whether a judge sentences an offender to prison, and how much time they get. If you've got 2 serious batteries in your past, and then you get popped for a drug offense, and the judge sentences you to 10 years on the drug offense because you've got a past history of violence, you will be counted in the stats as a "non-violent drug offender." But you're realy not. You're a violent criminal whose most recent offense simply happens to be a drug offense. If you had just been arrested for the drug offense with no violence (or burglary or some such) in your past, then you probably wouldn't have gotten nearly as much jail time, if any. Similarly, if you're arrested for an assault charge (pulling a gun on someone) and a drug charge, the drug charge may be the nominally most serious charge, so that's all that shows up on the stats, again making you a "non-violent drug offender" when in fact you're not.

We certainly need some better data in this area to allow a better classification of offenders. I can tell you, from intensive personal experience, that when I was working for our governor here, we allowed a new law to provide for a review process aimed at releasing non-violent drug offenders from prison. The secretary of our department of corrections himself thought that this program would ease his population problems a lot, by allowing plenty of people out of prison.

As part of the process, the secretary was required to sit on some of the hearing panels deciding who was to be considered for release. After just a few days of hearings, he remarked to me that he hadn't know just how hard people have to work to get sentenced to prison. He was truly surprised to discover that the number of "non-violent drug offenders" in the true sense, people who did not have a criminal history of violence or burglary or some "real" crime, was remarkably small.

As part of that process, I tried my very best to find statistics on the prison population that were more sophisiticated than just the "most serious offense" count used in the Justice Department studies which you cite. Unfortunately, there's not a commonly-agreed method for looking at the criminal history that actually led to the prison sentences.
6.28.2008 5:19pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
As for the federal offenses, it's quite common for the states to defer the prosecution of a violent crime to allow the feds to prosecute for a drug crime which will get the criminal longer time, or because the evidence is stronger for the drug charge than for the state crime. Again, that doesn't make the offender a truly non-violent individual, but that's how it shows up on the stats.
6.28.2008 5:22pm
Curt Fischer:


Is there such a thing as a non-violent drug dealer?

Is this a serious question?


A guy I knew once dabbled in dealing ecstasy for awhile. After a few months, he was making a healthy profit, and his "business" was expanding. Then someone who knew him robbed him at gunpoint for about $5000 worth of drugs.

That's when he realized that to be a drug dealer he'd have to get a gun and be willing to play dirty. Instead, he made a much wiser decision to quit dealing drugs and never did it again.

I'm sure it is possible for some drug dealers to avoid these types of situations, so I think it is possible to be a non-violent drug dealer. But you've got a lot going against you.
6.28.2008 5:26pm
sobi:
The argument that violence is a part of the nature of drug-use and drug-dealing seems to assume it is an inherent link of behaviors.

That drug-use and drug-dealing have been criminalized doesn't seem to be held to answer for the violence. Isn't it more reasonable to assume that violence is associated with the need to break the law to achieve the behavior rather than to the behavior itself?

With criminalization, there is no logical way to answer whether violence is a part of the behavior or a result of the criminalization.

I favor the latter view.
6.28.2008 5:32pm
Javert:
As has been proven countless times in the 20th century, prohibition is ridiculously impractical and counter-productive. It allows organized crime to become wealthy, e.g., the mafia during liquor prohibition. Further, the government can't even keep drugs out of the penitentiaries, so how on earth can it keep them out of an entire country?

The issue of violent crime is a red herring. You don't outlaw food because a poor person robs a bank to buy some. You outlaw and prosecute for the crime. You don't outlaw or prosecute for the product a criminal intends to purchase with the loot.
6.28.2008 5:36pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Ilya-

No, it assumes that men have a strong interest in sex, and many of them will pursue that interest without making a commitment if they can get away with it. It also assumes that women tend to want men who are willing to make a commitment. Both points are backed by extensive social science evidence.

There is a lot of evidence that women have a strong interest in sex as well, regardless of commitment. Witness the actual paternity rates. You seem to be pretty one-sided in these arguments.

THere is ZERO proof that...

Sheesh Ilya, you don't have to shout. It's not like you're being tortured or anything. (Although if you were being tortured I wouldn't expect you to do a thing the cowardly criminals told you to do, and that you should demand the enormous amount in reparations, restitution, etc. that would be due to you or anyone in a situation like that.)
6.28.2008 5:39pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Is there such a thing as a non-violent drug dealer?
Of course. Worse, the War on Drugs tends to turn non-violent drug dealers violent. (Anheuser-Busch rarely gets into gang wars with Miller.)
6.28.2008 5:41pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
A guy I knew once dabbled in dealing ecstasy for awhile. After a few months, he was making a healthy profit, and his "business" was expanding. Then someone who knew him robbed him at gunpoint for about $5000 worth of drugs.

That's when he realized that to be a drug dealer he'd have to get a gun and be willing to play dirty. Instead, he made a much wiser decision to quit dealing drugs and never did it again.

I'm sure it is possible for some drug dealers to avoid these types of situations, so I think it is possible to be a non-violent drug dealer. But you've got a lot going against you.
Not if you end the war on drugs, which was the whole point of Ilya's post. Then all you have to do if that situation arises is to call the police -- just like any other businessman who gets robbed.
6.28.2008 5:44pm
Dave D. (mail):
..Well Ilya, and StudyShirker, SOMEBODY didn't read or remember this part of the original posit: " We put an awful lot of nonviolent black men behind bars, which is not generally conducive to good fathering. "
..That's why I brought up black felons doing time for the nonviolent crimes of burglary/auto theft/Dope dealers and con men; because it was in the original comment.
...And why is dealing drugs to your sons and daughters any worse than stealing your car ? Give me the choice of stealing my stereo or selling crack to my mother, I'll take burglary every time. Which do you think hurts the black family values more, getting the single mother hooked on heroin or theft of her property ? Pimping isn't considered a violent crime, but hooking and whoring a sister is about the next worse thing to killing her and her family. Both of you need to spend more time on the streets and less time reading about it. I spent 4 years patrolling south Central L.A. ( 1971-73/ 1976/77 ) These felons you so blithely want to release so they can again prey upon their previous victims are thieving, lying brutes. They earned there way into prison and shouldn't be released based on a theory.
6.28.2008 5:52pm
bellisaurius (mail):
Even if there isn't a biological basis, but rather a social/cultural one behind a possible female preference for relationship sex over one-nighter affairs, the market for sex as such still exists to a fairly substantial extent. If there's a market of sorts, then incentives exist, and Harford makes an interesting argument.
6.28.2008 6:03pm
hawkins:

Give me the choice of stealing my stereo or selling crack to my mother, I'll take burglary every time.


Where to begin? It is the decision to use drugs that causes harm. This is similar to blaming liquor stores (7-11, Supermarkets, etc) for people getting drunk.
6.28.2008 6:21pm
hawkins:

I spent 4 years patrolling south Central L.A. ( 1971-73/ 1976/77 ) These felons you so blithely want to release so they can again prey upon their previous victims are thieving, lying brutes.


Crack did not exist in 1977.
6.28.2008 6:26pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Ilya-

The point is not that men are less "moral" than women. Rather, the two sexes are responding to different incentives. Men can gain a reproductive advantage from casual sex without commitment because one man can impregnate a large number of women. Women, for obvious reasons, can't do this (because the number of pregnancies they can have is relatively fixed, regardless of how much casual sex they have). Therefore, men, on average, have a stronger interest in casual sex without commitment than women do. At the same time, they are willing to restrain such behavior and make longterm commitments if women are in a strong enough bargaining position to insist that they do so. None of these points apply to all men and all women all the time. But they do identify important general tendencies.

But the flip side of this is that there are incentives for women to cheat. There are incentives for women to cheat with the male of the highest perceived status that they can find that will have sex with them. And note that the paternity laws in some states look to whoever the woman is married to, not the biological father for support. And of course if the husband wants to get a divorce because of the cheating he is hit with all the penalties of divorce. And this isn't even getting into stolen sperm, illegal artificial fertilization, etc.
6.28.2008 6:30pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
If PatHMV is right that most "nonviolent" drug prisoners are actually violent (and he's likely right), and Ilya is right that 30% of black men in, for example, New Mexico, are imprisoned, then it looks like we are dealing with an insurgency at home that dwarfs what's going on in iraq.

One strategy the single black women women could take would be to look for partners who are non-black.
I'm not clear on the relative incentives or disincentives for black single mothers to themselves become drug dealers.
6.28.2008 6:30pm
Charles Strouss (mail):

No, it assumes that men have a strong interest in sex, and many of them will pursue that interest without making a commitment if they can get away with it. It also assumes that women tend to want men who are willing to make a commitment. Both points are backed by extensive social science evidence.


This is such a stereotype... the fact that some sociologists have managed to concoct studies to promote it isn't surprising.

There are also studies -- which I find more compelling -- that both men and women are by nature serial monogamists... that a man does not help his gene pool by spreading seeds and then not tending the garden... but rather will have the best reproductive success by staying around to support and protect his children, at least for the first few years.

Women, also, can enhance their reproductive success by having children with more than one father. Why invest all of their reproductive capacity with only one source of seed?

My personal experience is that most of the men I know well are MORE monogamous by nature than the women we date/marry -- and they are generally non-religous as well, so the monogamist tendencies seem to be very natural, rather than being forced by some moralistic teachings.

It would be nice to assume that we somehow have self-selected our social pool to associate with especially decent men, but I suspect this is just the seduction of egotism.

I cannot disprove the conventional wisdom, but combining my personal experience with the existence of SOME compelling and well thought out studies to the contrary, I think at a minimum that there is some pretty major over-generalization going on.

Back to the original topic at hand, the wisdom of the War on Drugs. As a libertarian, I tend to agree that the WoD is not only ineffective, but an inappropriate intrusion into self-determination.

At the same time, I have had considerable experience with the devastating consequences of drug abuse. Anti-WoD activists tend to minimize the true social consequences of abuse... they claim that "treatment" is appropriate and effective -- in reality, "treatment" is a misnomer -- it is a mixture of education, peer pressure, and other things, but is not in any real way analogous to legitimate medical "treatments."

Claims that prohibition was a dismal failure are also distorted. Blanket prohibition in 20th century USA did actually have measurable social benefits, and the gang violence was generally restricted to being among criminals.

There are also communities in Alaska who currently are benefiting tremendously from alcohol prohibition -- domestic violence has dropped from being rampant to rare.

To sum up, what I am saying is that drug policy is very complex and serious social issue. It seems that both sides in the ideological debate tend to trivialize the seriousness of the issues. I would certainly like to see more intellectual honesty and rigor on the part of the participants, because we are otherwise stuck in the current shouting match which does little to really shed light on the subject.
6.28.2008 6:33pm
hawkins:

My personal experience is that most of the men I know well are MORE monogamous by nature than the women we date/marry


I find this very interesting. My personal experience is much more in line with the common stereotype.
6.28.2008 6:40pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
We put an awful lot of nonviolent black men behind bars

Are they really "nonviolent"?

I'm under the impression that many drug offenders are violent criminals, and they admitted to a lesser offense as part of a plea bargain.
6.28.2008 6:47pm
Dr. T (mail) (www):
Part of the black/white imprisonment discrepancy is due to the rules regarding cocaine. One gram of crack cocaine is treated as if it were 100 g of powdered cocaine. Most black cocaine users prefer crack. If arrested, a few grams of crack cocaine automatically puts one in the drug 'dealer' category with its much longer prison sentences. This is just another absurdity in our immoral and ineffective 'war on drugs'.
6.28.2008 6:54pm
Ashley Higgins (mail):
It may be true that if fewer black males were incarcerated, more black women might have more choices for a marraige (or live-in) relationship with a black male. [But how inherently sexist and racist is this argument?]

On the other hand, there is no support in the post for the proposition that it is in the best interest of a child to have a drug-using, drug-dealing father or mother in the home. In other words, there is no support for the following: "But these men still probably beat the alternative of single parenthood."

I was an attorney ad litem for dependent-neglected children and now am a child-support lawyer. I see these sperm recipients and donors in real life all the time. The legal fiction that this post (and a portion of our legal system) is based upon is: The mother is fine; the father is just a bum.
6.28.2008 6:59pm
Dr. T (mail) (www):
Readers asked questions about "Is it possible to be a nonviolent drug dealer?" In our 'war on drugs', the answer is YES. Why, because if you are a drug user with a couple weeks supply of drugs on hand when arrested, you are automatically bumped up to the category of dealer. No proof of selling is required.

James Wilson, who claims that most drug prisoners are dealers, knows the above information and is being disingenuous. He slants the arrest and conviction data to make the drug war look more effective and fairer. Neither is true. I would bet that half the persons in prison for drug dealing were just users or users/partiers (who bought drugs for a party the way others buy booze). James Wilson, the DEA, and the media want everyone to believe that every convicted drug dealer was a merciless, hardened criminal who sponsored gang wars and drive-by shootings that killed children. Given the comments I've seen, it is obvious that the propaganda campaign is effective.
6.28.2008 7:09pm
Ken Arromdee:
If PatHMV is right that most "nonviolent" drug prisoners are actually violent (and he's likely right), and Ilya is right that 30% of black men in, for example, New Mexico, are imprisoned, then it looks like we are dealing with an insurgency at home that dwarfs what's going on in iraq.

PatHMV says he's in Louisiana. Is it possible that Louisiana and New Mexico do it differently?
6.28.2008 7:25pm
Sandy G (mail):
The initial problem, 100 years ago, was that some people liked to get high (for a dime) and others didn't like it. How far that's gone!

Surely nearly all these jailed Americans would soon lead perfectly stable family lives with a peer-equivalent job and a dollar high.

I can only dream.
6.28.2008 7:28pm
Whipped (www):
"Some commenters question the implicit assumptions of Kerry's and my bargaining position point: that many men would like to gain access to sex without making a longterm commitment, while most women prefer men who are willing to make such commitments."

Some commenters question the implicit assumptions of Kerry's and my bargaining position point: that many men would like to gain access to sex without making a longterm commitment, while most women prefer men who are willing to make such commitments without sex.

Fixed that for you.
6.28.2008 7:28pm
Dave D. (mail):
...Yeah, Hawkins, dope dealers are just grocers in disquise. What bunk.
.. I never saw crack when I worked in L.A., but the Univ. Of Maryland says it was invented in the 70'S. I'll defer to your expertise on it's invention and use. Nice try at a non sequitur, though. What you so carefully avoided addressing was Ilya's theory that black families would be better off with unincarcerated felons 'nurturing' their children. Ilya says these single mothers make a rational decision to have out of wedlock children and we shouldn't even suggest they wait to get preganant until they are married to a provider. That " Doesn't seem right " to Ilya.
...I'll bet Ilya tells her ( his ?) own kids no to get pregnant serially by different felons because doing so is the sure and certain road to poverty and misery. And I'll bet it seems right to come as much more than a suggestion. Why would you advocate that for black women when you wouldn't want it at your house, for your kids?
6.28.2008 7:50pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
What Wilson said is that most people convicted of mere possession were actually dealers.
Be careful what you read into that. In most states people caught with X grams of a drug can be prosecuted as a "dealer" regardless of whether they ever actually sold any drugs. The drug warriors think that's a feature.
Is there such a thing as a non-violent drug dealer?
See Richard Paey:
In 1985, Richard Paey was involved in an automobile accident. A subsequent botched operation left him in near constant pain. Like many chronic pain patients, he developed a tolerance to the opioid painkillers he was using to alleviate his suffering. Detectives began their investigation of him in 1996. Due to the quantities of pills he was buying, it was believed he was trafficking the drugs. However, a three month investigation turned up no evidence of intent to sell, and the quantities he bought are not unusual for long time users of opioid painkillers. Nonetheless, Florida law allows prosecution for trafficking based solely on the amount of drug the suspect possesses. Paey was arrested in March 1997.

Prosecutors offered Paey a plea deal in 1999 that would have resulted in a guilty plea of attempted trafficking and 3 years of house arrest, but he chose to fight the charges. A similar plea was offered during his first trial in 2002, but it was quickly rescinded after Paey accepted it. Paey was eventually convicted in his third trial on 15 counts of drug trafficking, possession of a controlled substance, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. On April 16, 2004, he was sentenced to a 25 year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a $500,000 fine.

Later, Dwayne Hillis, one of the jurors in the trial, came forward publicly and said he was pressured into a guilty verdict with assurances that Richard Paey would serve no jail term.

Paey served three and a half years at the Tomoka Correctional facility in Daytona Beach, Florida. During this time, the state provided a direct IV pump of morphine directly into his back to alleviate his pain. The strength of the morphine drip prescribed to him was stronger than the "morphine equivalent" of the amount of oxycodone that he was arrested for using in the first place.
It's difficult to be a "violent drug offender" from a wheelchair.
As has been proven countless times in the 20th century, prohibition is ridiculously impractical and counter-productive.
Not just the twentieth century. No government in the history of the world has been able to shut down a black market resulting from prohibition, other than by ending the prohibition.
Where to begin? It is the decision to use drugs that causes harm.
Actually it's the decision to prohibit drugs that causes most of the harm. About half of my generation experimented with drugs during their late teens and twenties. Most of them grew out of it without any harm. Getting caught today can mean a drug possession charge, which ruins pretty much the rest of your life.
6.28.2008 8:01pm
Malthus:
Women who want sexual equality need to get themselves fixed or on birth control. Then they won't need a daddy at home and might have time to learn some math, science, engineering and chess.
6.28.2008 8:07pm
czar:
Have you, Ilya, read this?
I predict, that when gasoline hits $8 a gallon, we will see the quick change of our War on Drugs.
6.28.2008 8:28pm
RAH (mail):
I do not agree that releasing "non violent drug users/dealers" back to breed more children without marriage or legal commitment will alleviate the problem. How do they pay for the drugs if they are just users? That money that would have paid for housing food, clothing and medical care just goes to the drugs. The mother still has to pay for most everything.

The problem is really the females fail to value their sexuality enough to withdraw it unless the male commits. If teenager girls refuse sex to the bad exciting men, then they do not have children by them and may decide to try for the nice dull male.

I have seen high school white girls, who know better about birth control, jump into bed with an exiting bad black male and get pregnant. Her parents pay for it all. My neighbor's 15 yr old white son had 21 yr old white girlfriend who got pregnant. Now you tell me who was the sexual aggressor? The 21-year female or the 15 yr old boy who felt he was the luckiest boy?

The strongest method to impose sexual morality was to impose on the female. That has been true in almost all cultures throughout history. If the girl is chaperoned and not allowed free access to males that will try to seduce her, then the chance of her getting married is better. If the girl's family introduces an eligible suitor for marriage the chance that she will have a stable marriage and more economic success.

Males will try to have sex with as many females and especially males with high aggressive tendencies. However if the females are sheltered from them, the males have less success and have to rely on the less moral girls and prostitutes.

This is a problem with the culture that has evolved to this level of immorality that affected the black and now affecting the white middle class and the upper economic classes also.

Plus the disincentives for males to marry are quite high. They have easy sex and since they have no certainty of retaining their offspring they decide either not to have any or take a less involved attitude about their children because they may not be allowed to keep or see them if there is a divorce.

It is really ironic that the emancipation of women has led to this. Once birth control and abortion became available it disconnected the requirement of males to marry the girls. because they then do not feel responsible since it was the girls choice to not use birth control or abortion.

I see no way to change this progression and maintain the free choices of woman and economic choices of women. Religion has been used to maintain the morality of the females and impress the requirement of male responsibility, but that has lessened among the population. Girl children are exposed to high level of sexuality from popular culture and advertising at a young age. Their desire to experiment is very strong and leads to these mistakes. For example please see the Maine school with the high level of pregnancies among girls 16 and younger. The girls aware all white and sought the males including homeless males. They had a approving culture of teenage pregnancies, since they had an in school day care and like all teenagers, a failure to understand the lifelong risks and ability to support themselves or marry another man when they already have a child by another.

So blaming the high level of unwedded black women who have multiple children from multiple fathers on the war on drugs, fails to account for the poor choices of the women. The women are the ones who are getting pregnant and allowing themselves seduced into sexual relationships with poor marriage prospects.

Humans are narcissistic and usually have a hard time imposing morality on themselves. Young humans react to the now and fail to restrain themselves for the uncertain future. The urban black poor in urban areas have absorbed the lesson that life is short and why wait? Conversations with these kids in schools uniformly indicate they see a high death rate among their peers. That is part of the criminal culture that has enveloped the urban areas.

The most murderous time period for males is 17-25. But most do not believe they will live that long so why not live for the moment? The females absorb these lessons also. If they want children who are unlikely to die soon, they must get pregnant early while their potential mates are alive. Of course this perpetuates the cycle. The children, especially males, grow up without a father figure and pick up roles models from the street. The most obvious role model is the corner drug dealer that has money and girls. The absorb the role that they are not supposed to marry girls but enjoy as many as possible before their life is cut short.

So I think your thesis fails to account for the female role in this problem.
6.28.2008 9:11pm
no sympathy (mail):
Perhaps a few things could solve this:
1) Black men and women refuse to have sex unless they are married.
2) Black men who have fathered children refuse to do drugs, because if they get caught they know they will go to prison and become an absentee father (and husband).
3) Young black people stop listening to music that glorifies drug use and promiscuity.
4) Black people in general stop blaming society, history, and white people for their problems.
5) Guilty white liberals stop acting as if black people are incapable of being responsible for their actions.
6.28.2008 9:47pm
Robert R.:
>It's difficult to be a "violent drug offender" from a wheelchair.


But that didn't stop The State from using a violent paramilitary SWAT raid to arrest Paey:

www.theagitator.com/2006/02/14/richard-paey-vs-swat/


Richard Paey vs. SWAT
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

I don't know why, but it never occured to me that Richard Paey might have been apprehended by a SWAT team when officials in Florida decided to nail him for daring to relieve his own pain. It should have, given that they're often deployed to bust up convalescent centers where sick people are treated with marijuana.

So I spoke with Linda Paey, his wife. Sure enough. Linda says a full-on SWAT team stormed the Paey's home the night they came for Richard. They kicked open the door, and stormed the house with assault weapons, armor, and black ski masks. They did have the courtesy to dispense with the concussion grenade.

Lest you've forgotten, Richard Paey is a paraplegic. He sits in a wheelchair, and can't use his legs. He suffers from mutliple sclerosis and debilitating back pain caused by a car accident and a botched spinal surgery. Investigators were aware of all of this.

Linda Paey is an optometrist. They have two school-aged children. No one in the family has a criminal record, nor any history of violence.

Any military fetishists out there want to explain why the SWAT team was necessary in this one?
6.28.2008 9:52pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
In the past we solved the illegitmacy problem by social disapprobation. That won't work these days when, for example, a bastard is running for president (Barack's parents were not lawfully wed) and no one even mentions it. Or when another bastard was the 42nd president (same problem of bigamous parents).

Turning dealers loose would probably not help much without developing mechanisms to encourage marriage. How about no public jobs and no public benefits (at all) w/o marriage. Not a problem for the libertarians on the list because we don't wnat anyone to have the jobs or benefits in the first place.

How about no franchise without marriage.

Can't get those suggestions through the commie judges? How about hiring people to nag fornicators and divorcers to clean up their acts. Solid government jobs. No legal objection there. The government can speak about its opinion of various behaviors. It certainly does with recycling and fat.

Just an idea.
6.28.2008 10:29pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Is this a serious question?


Of course.


James Wilson, the DEA, and the media want everyone to believe that every convicted drug dealer was a merciless, hardened criminal who sponsored gang wars and drive-by shootings that killed children. Given the comments I've seen, it is obvious that the propaganda campaign is effective.


And every drug dealer is an innocent, according to the other propaganda campaign.
6.28.2008 10:30pm
egalitarian (mail):
This video says it all (NSFW). Please don't call this racist, as it was created and endorsed by black musicians. This is not a joke:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUkpR2Q6Oy8
6.28.2008 10:49pm
H tuttle (mail):
>>"I don't claim that this racial disparity in drug incarceration is caused solely - or even primarily - by racial prejudice.<<

You lost me this sentence. Solely? Primarily? Implying that there is racial prejudice, albeit at some lesser ill-defined level at work in drug incarceration?
6.28.2008 11:04pm
Bruce:
Men can gain a reproductive advantage from casual sex without commitment because one man can impregnate a large number of women.

I assume we're talking about the prehistoric Serengeti here, where the modern human genetic code was finalized. So the theory is that men gained a reproductive advantage by fathering lots of children -- and then abandoning them to single-parent families or hostile stepfathers? Some advantage.
6.28.2008 11:39pm
John Neff:
If it were possible to review pre-sentence investigations and aggregate the numbers to preserve confidentiality the issue of violent versus nonviolent prisoners could be clarified. Some of the data collected by corrections departments is also confidential and I doubt that the data in the public record is sufficient to make a reliable assessment of tendencies toward violence. If the individual is under a lot of stress a risk assessment is unlikely to be valid.

As a number of persons have commented the prisons are overcrowded and most of the first time offenders in prison are there because they committed a serious violent crime. The property, drug, public order offenders have been though the system enough times to be considered habitual offenders. Some data sets break down drug offenses into possession, trafficking and other drug. Unfortunately there is overlap between possession and trafficking that depends on the type of drug.

There may be a difference between the original charge and the convicted charge and I worked with a data set that gave both and discovered that an enhancement charge was just as likely as a reduced charge. One would expect mostly reduced charges if plea bargaining was the only process but it is not. It is not uncommon for a suspect to be arrested and jailed on a minor charge to keep them around or to prevent them from interfering with an investigation of something more serious.

There probably are a few nonviolent first time dug offenders in prisons and my guess is they are most likely to be girl friends of drug traffickers.
6.28.2008 11:54pm
jccamp (mail):
I can think of many reasons to criticize the so-called war on drugs. it is ill-conceived, poorly executed and frankly, counter-productive. It fails the most simplistic common-sense tests.
But...
to claim the war on drugs is creating or contributing to single parent families, and thus, is bad for family values, is more than a reach. Drug dealing does not exist in a vacuum. Dope is surrounded by all types of attendant crime, including violence, corruption, money laundering, and other contraband. Theorizing that decriminalizing drug sales would suddenly empower thousands of potential fathers to suddenly morph into Ward Cleaver is just silly. The great majority would still be criminals; they just wouldn't be selling illegal drugs anymore.
There are any number of valid criteria to find the war on drugs lacking. The OP is not one of them.
6.28.2008 11:55pm
jccamp (mail):
"...to suddenly morph into Ward Cleaver..."

mea culpa
6.28.2008 11:57pm
RAH (mail):
You know this entirely silly proposition that the War on Drugs causes deterioration on family values is chicken and egg. Which started first, bad family values leading crime and incarceration or Incarceration leading to bad family values?

Perhaps if the goal is to prevent unmarried women from having bastards we should lock up the juvenile's delinquents early and do not release them, so the women would get access and get pregnant by them. That would leave only the decent males who would marry the woman and get a good job.

That sounds just as sensible as the idea that incarceration is at fault for bad family values.

Really why are we concerned about this? It sounds like a liberal thesis designed to release dangerous people back into society to prey on them.

Drug dealers and drug users are not victimless crimes despite what libertarians think. Drugs cost so much that they often need to use theft and crime to get the money. That takes away property that people have spent a portion of their lives to obtain. That loss of the victim's life is not recoverable. Some thefts damage the ability of others to provide a living.


More and more people with castle doctrine are killing thieves. So they cost to property theft can often be loss of life to the burglar.
6.29.2008 12:47am
Elais:
If men can't keep in it their pants, don't blame the women for it. Boys will be Boys and Girls will be Girls are not helpful arguements. How about just sterilizing everyone? Problem solved.
6.29.2008 1:08am
RAH (mail):
Perhaps if the goal is to prevent unmarried women from having bastards we should lock up the juvenile's delinquents early and do not release them, so the women would not get access to them and get pregnant by them. That would leave only the decent males who would marry the woman and get a good job.

Forgot a crucial " Not" in previous post
6.29.2008 1:19am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Your entire post depends on the assumption that if the "non-violent" offenders weren't in prison, they'd be happily providing food, shelter and a good example to their offspring.

Given that it usually takes quite some effort to land in prison, that is a doubtful proposition at best.

So unless you are prepared to prove in some way that the average inmate of the type you want to release are going to actually do the necessary fathering (as opposed to, say, creating more children who will have absent fathers), you have no point. None.
6.29.2008 2:26am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I do not agree that releasing "non violent drug users/dealers" back to breed more children without marriage or legal commitment will alleviate the problem. How do they pay for the drugs if they are just users?
How does any drug user pay for his drugs? Some rely on welfare checks of some sort (e.g., disability). Most work for it. You do realize there's nothing magical about cocaine that makes it unlike alcohol, right? Except the illegality.
6.29.2008 3:48am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Drug dealers and drug users are not victimless crimes despite what libertarians think. Drugs cost so much that they often need to use theft and crime to get the money.
1) No, they don't. The only effect that drugs automatically cause is for people's brains to stop working -- and by that I mean drug warriors, not drug users.
2) Theft is a crime. Drug use is not. The fact that some drug users steal things does not make drug use a crime with a victim. It makes theft a crime with a victim.
6.29.2008 4:06am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
forest/trees-

This is a real stretch pegging something ancillary to what the real problem is- another "root cause" smokescreen.

There aren't any recognizable family values, here.
6.29.2008 9:52am
John Neff:
We should be able to agree that
1) Crimes are committed by persons intoxicated on alcohol/drugs.
2) Crimes are committed by persons to obtain funds needed to support an alcohol/drug dependence.
3) A complicating factor is that some of these individuals may also be mentally ill.
4) Alcohol is legal and prescription drugs are also legal.
5) Good quality illegal drugs are readily available at reasonable prices.

Has the "war on some drugs" improved any of these problems? Perhaps it has because property crime rates have declined. On the other hand so did unemployment.
6.29.2008 10:59am
hawkins:

Yeah, Hawkins, dope dealers are just grocers in disquise. What bunk.


Please explain why this is "bunk?" Grocers supply alcohol. Drug dealers supply drugs. Both drugs and alcohol cause tremendous amounts of harm in society. Both can also be used in moderation without disastrous consequences. It is ultimately up to the individual to decide whether (and how much) to use and to bear the consequences of their decision. I think it's a nearly perfect analogy.
6.29.2008 11:03am
hawkins:
And please, before anyone starts arguing that crack cannot be used without harmful consequences - the only reason crack exists is because counterproductive drug laws cause the price of cocaine to be so astronomical that many poor people cannot afford it. It clear that cocaine can be used in moderation and cause little harm - as evidenced by our current president, the likely next president, and thousands on Wall Street.
6.29.2008 11:17am
Dudley Sharp (mail):
There is a significant omission:

The most dangerous, destructive drug in the US is alcohol. One of the reasons for that is that it is legal, easily accessible and socially acceptable, within reasonable limits of use. Even abuse of it is often acceptable and celbrated by some.

The legalization of, now, illegal drugs, will create more accessible, more socially acceptable use of those, now, illegal drugs and will increase the problems we have, now.

I see little doubt that would occur and, with that in mind, single mothers could become even more of an issue or, non single mothers may have increased problems over what they have now.
6.29.2008 11:28am
RAH (mail):
The first victim of drug use is the user. The resulting impacts are to the users family since none of us is truly an island and whatever we do affects our loved ones. The drug user family can be the secondary victims, especially if they depend on the user for their living arrangemnts.

Resulting crime from the drug users attempt to get money to pay for drugs creates another layer of victims. It is like a pebble thrown in the water and the resulting rings from the splash keep going outward until they subside.
6.29.2008 11:31am
hawkins:

Resulting crime from the drug users attempt to get money to pay for drugs creates another layer of victims.


This would be largely reduced (I would guess nearly eliminated) if drugs were legalized due to drastic reduction in price. How much crime is the result of drunks trying to fund the purchase of alcohol?
6.29.2008 11:47am
Dave D. (mail):
...Hawkins/Nieporent, If you buy into the Libertarian lie that Hooking and Dope dealing is just commerce at it's best, it's easy to claim that they both may be illegal but there ain't no crime there.
..You boys don't get out much , do ya ? The black underclass and the white underclass are both highly disfunctional because of dope and booze. Poor whites ( and they'll be poor at the end ) prefer meth, blacks like crack and both like weed and booze. They steal from each other, they steal welfare monies from their kids care needs and they steal dope even when they know dope dealers are viscious and retributive. They are in the grip of something they crave and can't/won't quit. Whoring themselves, lying, stealing and killing follow as night follows day. Alcoholism is not different, either. That's why liquor store clerks get robbed on a regular basis.
..Nieporent, you seem to think only the illegality is the difference between cocaine and alcohol. One is a depressant, one is the exact opposite. I'd have thought a dope advocate....would know that.
6.29.2008 12:02pm
hawkins:
Dave D - you still have not distinguished alcohol from drugs. why should one be legal but the other prohibited? You seem to imply that they are the same, but do not seem to advocate prohibition of alcohol.
6.29.2008 12:05pm
jvarisco (mail) (www):
First off, you're making an evolution argument to social conservatives. If they don't believe in evolution period, why do you expect them to believe in evolutionary psych?

Alcohol is permitted because it can be used in moderation. You can't use drugs without getting high, or without being physically harmed.
6.29.2008 12:13pm
Ken Arromdee:
They steal from each other, they steal welfare monies from their kids care needs and they steal dope even when they know dope dealers are viscious and retributive.

If drugs were legal, the price would go down and they would not need to steal to get them any more than people steal to buy cigarettes.
6.29.2008 12:22pm
Dave D. (mail):
....And is the price of cigarettes down, Arromdee ? Gasoline ? Food ? Transport ? Postage ? The price of moronic statements is down, apparently. And Arromdee, people do steal to buy cigarettes, and they steal cigarettes, and they bum them from their friends, and smuggle them. You must live in Libertarian Utopia not to know this.
..Hawkins, you don't read for content, do Ya ? I would refer you to my post IMMEDIATELY ABOVE your last post as the answer to your question. This thread isn't really about your choice of wreckreational drugs, it's about freeing black felons to pair up with their black consorts. Perhaps the damage you've suffered prevents you from staying on topic.
... But Hawkins, old pal, if you had the courage of your convictions, ref drugs, you'd turn out your daughter and buy her the first taste of ( smack/crank/crack/toluene ) as a token of your Libertarian faith, and to keep her in bondage while she earns the big bucks. If you don't think that is appropriate, then I'll give you another chance to answer the question I asked you before : If that's not ok for your girl, why is ok for somebody elses daughter ?
6.29.2008 3:57pm
hawkins:

If that's not ok for your girl, why is ok for somebody elses daughter ?


Very difficult to even follow such rambling nonsense, but I choose option 'B' - not ok with anyone's daughter.
6.29.2008 5:37pm
whit:

What Wilson said is that most people convicted of mere possession were actually dealers. That doesn't necessarily make them "really evil." And indeed most of them are small-time, low-level dealers. In any event, Wilson is a drug war supporter, and I'm not required to agree with his views.



i'm a drug warr OPPONENT, but wilson is right. this canard gets trotted out in nearly every drug war debate "x% of inmates are for non-violent drug offenses, etc. etc."

what they fail to mention is that it's not at all that simple. for example. many of the imprisoned "non-violent drug offenders" imprisoned for drug offenses have multiple priors, etc. and/or had a plea deal, etc. etc. etc.

NORML (whose position i agree with) trot out these bogus statistics in order to "prove' their point - that prisons are filled with "non-violent drug offenders".

in my state, there are lots of juvies in *(juvenile) lockup for auto theft. whatever the % is, it would be erroneous to look at that stat and think that juveniles routinely get locked up for auto theft. in fact, it's rare for juvies to get any time until they commit and are convicted of AT LEAST 3 auto thefts.

if one looked at all the non-violent drug offenders who DON'T go to prison (or go for very short time), and compare them to those who DO, ***that*** would give a much more reliable picture of how difficult it actually is to go to prison for non-violent drug offenses. unless you are dealing with metric a**loads of drugs, it usually takes a lot (priors, already on probation , etc.)

the reality is that a hell of a lot of those who are in for "non-violent drug offenses" are career criminals (burglars, auto thieves, etc.) who have had multiple chances before they ever got locked up for any serious time.
6.29.2008 5:58pm
JoelP (mail):
If certain persons incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses are in fact guilty of violent crimes, then by all means imprison them for those crimes. Nobody would claim that a drug offense should immunize one to prosecution for one's other crimes.

But to say "well, A is a vile criminal, but we can't prove it, so we must instead imprison him for the marijuana in his dresser"... hardly good public policy.
6.29.2008 7:25pm
whit:

But to say "well, A is a vile criminal, but we can't prove it, so we must instead imprison him for the marijuana in his dresser"... hardly good public policy.



that's not what's being said.

look, if you want an example of what i am talking about look at robert downey jr. he was jailed for a non-violent drug offense. and it was merely possessory.

but he had to work HARD for that sentence. that's the reality of the kind of person who actually gets jail (let alone prison - which is much harder to get) for a drug offense
6.29.2008 7:46pm
Charles Strouss (mail):
I wrote:

My personal experience is that most of the men I know well are MORE monogamous by nature than the women we date/marry

hawkins responded:

I find this very interesting. My personal experience is much more in line with the common stereotype.

I've always wondered how anomolous my experience has been... I certainly know men a layer or two removed me who fit the stereotype. Certainly, when dealing with large social issues it is dangerous to rely too much on personal experience rather than larger statistical data. But when a belief is so widespread that contradicts personal experience, it gives one motivation to look for alternative theories that are supported by data.

LarryA wrote:

Actually it's the decision to prohibit drugs that causes most of the harm. About half of my generation experimented with drugs during their late teens and twenties. Most of them grew out of it without any harm. Getting caught today can mean a drug possession charge, which ruins pretty much the rest of your life.

This is the kind of reckless argument that is thrown about casually by anti-WoD people, and severely damages their credibility.

Drugs do a lot of harm by themselves. To minimize this in such a way is ridiculous. Our legal drugs -- alcohol &tobacco -- are usually credited with causing 400,000 and 200,000 deaths annually in the USA. And the total costs go much further.

Doesn't it seem very likely that making cocaine &marijuana &heroin legal would INCREASE their use? Of course it is true that some of the social costs would be reduced, but to totally brush off the actual and substantial damages that would be increased is simply disingenous.

Sure, we all know people who smoke a little dope once in awhile and don't seem to have any long-term negative consequences. A lot of people experiment with drugs, but do not become regular users or abusers.

And a lot of people who become substance abusers in their 20s and then stop or moderate later on is well known -- in addictionology it is called "maturing out."

A psychistrist I spoke to who has 30 years experience in treating addiction says there is no real data, but from his experience he estimates that youthful abusers tend to fall into three roughly equal categories: Those who eventually get over it -- more likely by abstaining than moderating; Those who continue using by reduce the abuse enough that it does not destroy their lives, and can absorb the moderate negative consequences; and those whose lives will ultimately be destroyed unless they get serious help in becoming and remaining abstinent.

Yet the fact that some people can "handle" drugs, and others have relatively short-term patterns of abuse does not mean there are not tremendous costs of abuse. If you really think there are no significant costs of drugs other than those caused by the WoD, you need to spend a little time around patients in a hospital, or listening to stories in 12-step meetings.

Again, my point is not that I favor the currently-constituted WoD, my point is only that when anti-WoD people make such stupid arguments that they do a lot more harm than good to their cause. Many of them would do well to learn a bit more about addiction and its tremendous negative consequences rather than just waving their hands and pretending that legal drug use is completely benign.
6.29.2008 8:00pm
JoelP:
Whit wrote: that's not what's being said.
It is what's being said by James Wilson. He claims that many/most people in jail on drug use charges in fact plead down from more serious charges.
If they have committed serious crimes, we should try to convict them of those crimes. If they can only be shown to have possessed drugs, they should not spend time in jail.
6.29.2008 9:01pm
Malvolio:
If men can't keep in it their pants, don't blame the women for it.
You mean, don't blame the women they're sleeping with?

Forget about blame. Trying to get Person A to change his behavior and make a sacrifice so that Person B and Person C is a mug's game. "Hey, Bob, how about you give up sex so that Sally doesn't become a single parent and Angie isn't born into a one-parent household?" "How about 'No'?"

The woman is the one who will inevitable bear the burden so, fair or not, she's the one who will have to take the responsibility.
i'm a drug warr OPPONENT, but wilson is right. this canard gets trotted out in nearly every drug war debate "x% of inmates are for non-violent drug offenses, etc. etc." what they fail to mention is that it's not at all that simple. for example. many of the imprisoned "non-violent drug offenders" imprisoned for drug offenses have multiple priors, etc. and/or had a plea deal, etc. etc. etc.
So the purported defense of the Drug War is that it enables us to imprison people we know are bad, bad, bad, without the inconvenience and expense of proving that they actually did anything wrong?

I would be very curious what would happen if drugs were legalized. Some things I know. (1) The price would go down (both in dollars and the chance of going to jail), so there will be more users and the users will use more heavily. (2) Since the dollar cost of drugs goes down, there will be less petty crime. (3) Since more police attention and more prison space make the odds of being arrested and imprisoned for real crimes go way up, there will be less serious crime.

Since I myself don't use drugs, I am indifferent to (1), but (2) and (3) are cool.

What I don't know is: what will all the people who make money dealing drugs (that is: they support themselves by absorbing the risk of imprisonment) do? Will they continue their current profession? I don't see how -- without its risk premium, there isn't a lot of profit in drug sales. Will they go into other crimes? Perhaps, but they have no real experience there.

After the end of Prohibition, organized crime switched largely to other consensual crimes -- prostitution, gambling, and especially narcotics. In a libertarian world, I guess they'd be struck with low-rent work like hijacking and extortion.
6.29.2008 9:08pm
Curt Fischer:
Issues relating to addiction, dosing, and variability in both have rarely been a part of the drug war debate, at least here on the VC.

Experiments have shown that the addictive potential depends, for many drugs, including cocaine, on the dosing regimen. Large doses make for euphoric highs, hard come-downs, and a resulting physiological urge for more more more.

The illegality of drugs incentivizes the production and trafficing of extremely pure drugs, moved and sold in bulk. Pure powders are easier to manufacture (than e.g. pills, cigarettes, etc.), easier to smuggle, and possibly easier to sell as well. Dosing is thus left entirely up to the (ab)user.

If drugs were legal, I doubt that bulk powder would be the most popular form of cocaine, for example. Instead, dosing would be determined by manufactures or dealers, and the drug would likely be fashioned into pills, cigarettes, or even foods. For example, people might choose to chew coca leaves instead of smoking crack. In this way users may avoid, at least for a time, the excessive dosing which leads to most of the averse health impacts, as well the highest chances for addiction.

Drug users would appreciate these options, and I think that this policy could go some ways towards reducing the rate at which casual drug users become hardened addicts whose lives are destroyed because of drugs.

Of course, this isn't a magic bullet. I have no doubt that even under such an englightened policy, addiction to hard-core drugs would still be a problem. But that's a problem we already have.

Many commenters here are for more knowledgeable than I on matters relating to drug policy, so if anyone has heard this line of thinking anywhere, I would love to know about it!
6.29.2008 10:27pm
Dave D. (mail):
..Wrongo Dongo Malvolio. The price would probably go up, as cigarettes have. Bought any booze lately ? Not near as cheap as it costs to make. And cigarettes are regularly smuggled and sold without tax stamps. So more and heavier users mean more, not less, smuggling. With more use, what you call petty crime skyrockets. P'ing down your car, vandalism, brawls and junkies nodding off in public, needles everywhere, prostitution. Dope is a progressive disease and the effects on those around them may look petty, but isn't. Intoxicated crime IS real crime. You think it won't effect you ? Because the carpenter who builds your house is high, the inspector too ?
..More drunks, more dopers = more crime and worse behaviour. It always will.
6.29.2008 10:35pm
Curt Fischer:
Dave D.:

I'm curious, what do you think of the studies which find that moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to one's health? A whole lot of those have come out in the past ten years or so.
6.29.2008 10:40pm
hawkins:

The price would probably go up, as cigarettes have.


Perhaps you need a primer in Econ 101.
6.29.2008 11:03pm
Dave D. (mail):
Hawkins..Perhaps you need to be apprised that California is 16.5 Billion dollars in the hole this year and desperately looking for tax revenue. Cigarette prices went up because of taxes and civil suits. Somebody claimed that cigarettes were actually bad for your health and, despite the warning labels, juries actually bought into that. Imagine that. Never happen to dope, though. Legislators and tort lawyers wouldn't dare tax or sue dope. Ya think ? Naw, never happen, 'cause that might raise the price. And, they'd have to prove that dope was hazardous.
..Mr. Fischer, I'd like to believe those studies but...but...there is so much flim flam of scientific studies in the press, I'm not sure if it's true. I loved scotch like a brother, but I can count on the fingers of my neck all the good things it's brought me. Diabetes put paid to ETOH for me. I admit I'm biased, based on what I saw, against the behaviour of folks on booze and dope. I wish I could take you to the canal district in San Rafael, or Parker center in L.A. and watch bookings in the glass house on Saturday night. A lot of the underclass got there via intoxication. E.R. doctors in cities usually hate motorcycles ( donorcycles ) and guns. That's the grisly wounds they see a lot of. I think most street cops will tell you that intoxicants fuel almost all their calls, especially after dark. I also know that the doper fan club says that lots of folks use it in moderation, without ill effect, for years and years. That's not my experience.
6.30.2008 12:00am
Oren:
Drug dealers and drug users are not victimless crimes despite what libertarians think. Drugs cost so much that they often need to use theft and crime to get the money.
Back in the real world, drugs cost a lot because of prohibition. Make them legal, and you'll be able to fund your heroin addiction by collecting cans for the deposit. Shit, if we get economy of scale going, you'll probably be able to get a week's worth of drug for less than one shopping cart's worth of cans.
6.30.2008 3:35am
Oren:
I also know that the doper fan club says that lots of folks use it in moderation, without ill effect, for years and years. That's not my experience.
That's because you don't hear about us responsible users. We don't crash motorcycles or get arrested for disorderly. The vast majority of "dopers" (seriously, is this 1975?) are entirely under the radar.
6.30.2008 3:37am
Oren:
For example, people might choose to chew coca leaves instead of smoking crack.
My experience with coca leaves in Peru was actually quite positive. I was quitting cigarettes at the time and I wondered at how mellow and gentle the buzz was. Of course, this is at 1/1000th the normal dosage of cocaine.
6.30.2008 3:39am
Curt Fischer:

Of course, this is at 1/1000th the normal dosage of cocaine.


I bet it was closer to 1/10th or 1/30th or so. A cup of coca tea contains about 4.2 mg or so of cocaine. A little bit of scrounging around in this site led to a figure that supposedly a "line" of powdered cocaine is 50 mg or so, although I don't know how accurate a figure that is. I'm not sure how many leaves coca chewers usually chew, but if it is one gram of leaves, that would make for about 8 mg of cocaine, extraplating from figures in Wikipedia.

Even a small difference in dose and delivery system (oral vs. snorting) makes a HUGE difference in drug availability to the brain.
6.30.2008 8:28am
Dreadnaught (www):
Is there some reason black women can only marry black men? Loving anyone?
6.30.2008 8:57am
Dave D. (mail):
..Oren..So YOU'RE the guy I pass every morning picking up those gutter gift treasures! Now, I know you think you're a responsible drug user, and 'can-eradicators' do serve a useful purpose, but you're lookin' pretty ragged lately, and gamey doesn't even start to describe your downwind fragrance. Even your best friends won't tell you, but...that Horse ain't helpin' ya, bud.
6.30.2008 10:50am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Alcohol is permitted because it can be used in moderation. You can't use drugs without getting high, or without being physically harmed.
Yes, you can. Alcohol is a drug. There is no such scientific classification as "drugs" about which one can generalize which somehow alcohol escapes.

For any recreational drug, and that includes alcohol and tobacco, whether one "gets high" or is "physically harmed" depends on one's exposure, not based on the legality or illegality of a drug. One can use cocaine in moderation. Yes, really. There are difficulties, but they revolve primarily around the incentives created by the current legal regime.
6.30.2008 12:03pm
whit:

Alcohol is permitted because it can be used in moderation. You can't use drugs without getting high, or without being physically harmed.




complete rubbish. to quote some old greek dude, all things are poison in the proper dose (although marijuana HAS no LD50 value).

you can most definitely use drugs (illegal or legal) responsibly or irresponsibly. many illegal drugs don't even create a "high"- hgh comes to mind (illegal w/o prescription).

some drugs (legal or illegal) are physically addictive - caffeine, heroin, alcohol, methamphetamine

others aren't - hgh, marijuana, etc.

i have known many many people who use illegal drugs responsibly. i experienced this when i worked undercover (buying drugs), and of course... college. one of the top students in our school used cocaine as an occasional study aid.

and just to take the wind out of the sails - yes, marijuana is habit forming. ANYthing that people enjoy is habit -forming - internet posting, for instance. that is not the same as physically addictive.
6.30.2008 12:10pm
whit:

Back in the real world, drugs cost a lot because of prohibition. Make them legal, and you'll be able to fund your heroin addiction by collecting cans for the deposit. Shit, if we get economy of scale going, you'll probably be able to get a week's worth of drug for less than one shopping cart's worth of cans.



this is of course true. price is also a remarkable indicator of the failure of the war on drugs.

when i was in college, a gram of cocaine ran about $80-100 and an 8-ball (3.54 gms) for $250. today, the price is usually cheaper (depending on region), and rarely more expensive

considering the MASSIVE decline in the dollar, this actually means cocaine is signficantly cheaper in real dollars.

while cocaine is difficult to process, many expensive drugs would be quite cheap if legal - marijuana is ridiculously easy and cheap to grow (most of the real costs of growers come from trying to hide their grow from the law), opium poppies as well, etc.


when you consider how far (for example) tar heroin has to come to get to the inner cities, the current costs of fuel, etc. its remarkably cheap. but it would certainly be cheaper if legal.
6.30.2008 12:25pm
c.gray (mail):

Is there some reason black women can only marry black men? Loving anyone?


Pretty much.

For cultural reasons, marriages for black women rarely cross the color barrier. And overwhelming majorities of all Americans marry within their self-described racial group.

We work on changing the culture, but in the meantime, making black men into better marriage prospects may be a viable strategy for improving the marriage odds of black women.


I'm skeptical that keeping people out of prison is much of an answer. In my direct experience, almost nobody winds up in prison for a single victimless petty crime, or even a single instance where they were caught committing such a crime. Hard time is almost always the result of conviction for a very serious crime, or the culmination of numerous petty charges over a number of years.

Almost everyone in prison is someone for whom diversion to some alternative is totally inappropriate, or for whom diversion has been tried. And, of course, there is a real risk that reducing or eliminating punishment for particular behaviors will result in more of it.
6.30.2008 1:43pm
Oren:
when i was in college, a gram of cocaine ran about $80-100 and an 8-ball (3.54 gms) for $250. today, the price is usually cheaper (depending on region), and rarely more expensive
Yes, but how are we doing on purity? From what I'm told, the cocaine now is a hell of a lot better than it was back when . . .
6.30.2008 2:10pm
ColinS:
Why are we assuming that drug dealing fathers have a positive impact on the lives of their offspring?

I don't deny that active fatherhood in general is a positive thing; just that in these particular cases, the general rule might not hold.

I've known drug dealers. I wouldn't care for most of them to be babysitters, let alone active fathers. They tend to not be the sort of people I'd want children around.
7.1.2008 3:25am
kwo (mail):
The War on Drugs is a major contributor to the prevalence of fatherless children in poor black communities.

Change "The War on Drugs" to "Drug abuse", and strike "black", and you're closer to the truth.
7.1.2008 1:27pm
seeker6079 (mail) (www):
Ummm....

Conservatives are advocating two fundamentally contradictory things which result in "damned if you do and damned if you don't" negative results for the black and the poor? That's not a bug, that's a feature.
7.2.2008 6:33am