Lee P. Brown

In response to your editorial "Inspired Choice for Drug Czar," May 2:

The Times loudly proclaims that former New York City Police Chief Lee P. Brown is an inspired choice for drug czar because he knows what cops can and cannot do to reduce drug abuse. I don't think so. It is not a lack of understanding of the law but the law itself that stands in the way of inspired leadership.

The drug laws in the U.S. are a joke. They promote corruption here and abroad. They work to encourage drug use. They fuel gangs and violence. They waste public funds on a fight that can only be waged on an individual basis through education and rehabilitation. They encourage law enforcement types to abuse civil rights.

During the 1980s the drug fighting budget grew ninefold to almost $13 billion a year. Drug offenders doing time today number more than the entire federal prison population in 1980. But it means nothing to those tomorrow who will be using and abusing, wheeling and dealing. Lock 'em up and more will come.

Clinton's inspired choice could have been Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke or J.D. McNamara, former San Francisco police chief. Both favor decriminalization and a real effort to battle addiction.



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