WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Some of the people who made careers out of arresting and locking up drug offenders are calling on the president to stop doing it.
Alex DeMetrick reports they say their study shows the war on drugs is a failure, and it should end.
Forty year ago this week, prisons began filling up.
“We have five percent of the world’s population in the U.S., and yet we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. By far, most of those people are in prison for drug violations,” said Neill Franklin, retired Maryland State Police Major.
The people whose job was to send them there — former cops, prosecutors and prison wardens — released a study condemning that work.
“We’ve done an analysis of those 40 years and it is clear from the evidence the war on drugs has not just failed, but it’s been a complete disaster,” said Franklin.
According to the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition study, there are two million drug arrests each year, yet their own busts scarcely touch the drugs and money changing hands on the street.
“We’ve never had a quote ‘War on Drugs.’ At the very most, we’ve had a minor police action,” said Mike Gimbel, St. Joseph Medical Center.
Gimbel has spent three decades trying to move drug users out of the legal system and into medical care.
“Increase money to the front side, which is education and prevention and treatment, and not as much on law enforcement,” he said.
Former law enforcement officers backing the study agree.
“Putting people in jail is not the answer, and it’s been a financial drain on our country — over the past four decades, over $1.3 trillion spent. Drug use and abuse is bad, but we need to treat it from a medical perspective,” said Franklin.
While treatment might save police and prison costs, money for that treatment remains elusive.
“I haven’t met a politician yet that has the courage or insight to say we need more treatment. And it they have, they’ve never lived up to it,” said Gimbel.
The former law enforcement officers hand-delivered their report to the Obama administration, and called upon the president to end the prohibition against drugs.