This morning I received an e-mail from Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), a group that I have been supportive of since my college days. SSDP writes:
“Earlier this month, Derek Copp, a Michigan college student, heard a noise at the back door of his apartment. As he went to investigate, his eyes were blinded by a flashlight and a gunshot rang out. The next think he knew, he was in a hospital fighting for his life.
“The intruders were police. They had a warrant for drugs, but all they found was “a few tablespoons” of marijuana. Derek had no weapons.”
“Thankfully, the bullet that tore through Derek’s lungs and liver didn’t take his life. And every day since that incident, local Students for Sensible Drug Policy members have been standing up for Derek and opposing the polices that made this shooting possible.”
This story is no surprise to those of us who have been following the consequences of the failed War on Drugs. You’ll recall the most shocking story in recent drug war memory — that of Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old grandmother whose home was entered by Atlanta police officers in 2006.
According to Reason contributor Radley Balko:
“They had earlier arrested a man with a long rap sheet on drug charges. That man told the police officers that they’d find a large stash of cocaine in Johnston’s home. When police forced their way into Johnston’s home, she met them holding a rusty old revolver, fearing she was about to be robbed. The police opened fire, and killed her.”
After the officers shot Johnston, they left her handcuffed on the floor while she bled to death and then planted marijuana from their patrol car in her basement to try to help justify the shooting.
Mr. Copp is lucky to have his life, but when will this insanity end?
According to a new report from the Pew Center, a record 7.3 million people — or one in every 31 American adults — were behind bars, on probation, or on parole at the beginning of 2008. Of these 7.3 million people, an astounding 2.3 million are actually in prison or jail. That’s 1 in every 99 adults.
According to the report, black adults are four times as likely as whites and nearly 2.5 times as likely as Hispanics to be under correctional control. Ending the drug war in entirety would solve these problems and redirect our country’s limited resources toward more productive measures like — shock! — paying off the national debt.