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Letters to the Editor: Public health saves lives; locking up drug users destroys them

Crack cocaine
An LAPD officer looks at crack cocaine seized during an arrest in downtown Los Angeles.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

To the editor: As a Navy hospital corpsman veteran who formerly used crack and has spent time in jail on drug charges, I appreciate your June 10 editorial on the decisions made to incarcerate rather than treat people during the 1980s crack epidemic.

I’ve bought crack in Black neighborhoods, where the epidemic’s damage is visceral, and I have been in jail waiting to see the judge for sentencing with Black men who were despondent because they knew they would be feeling the full effect of the law for having small amounts of crack.

I have worked in healthcare for the last 15 years, with the last eight being in the fields of addiction and mental health, and I have seen firsthand the good that harm reduction can do. Hell, if it wasn’t for a pedestrian being trained on how to use naloxone, I wouldn’t be here today.

I fully support the “care first and jail last” approach, and I urge everyone to do the same.

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Charles J. March III, San Juan Capistrano


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