Drug War Prisoners

Legalization? Politicians responsible for Drug War policy laugh at the idea. Call off the Drug War, they say, and America will be awash with drugs. Nobody will get any work done. Society will fall apart.

The RATE Program was read in poetic fashion at the 1997 International Drug Peace Day rally in San Francisco. It calls for regulation in place of the black market, release of Drug War prisoners, ethical (non-punitive) treatment for the addicted, and realistic education about drugs and drug use. The RATE Program is posted as a conversation piece for viewers who feel that Drug War policy is not the last word for a democratic nation and leader of the free world.

Note that legalization here includes regulation at some level of government. Some viewers might aim to dispense with government regulation in favor of the supply and demand forces of an unfettered market system - an extremist view given the propensity of some drugs to addict.

The RATE Program, or How to Stop the War on Drugs

There's no sense in criticizing the War on Drugs if you don't have an alternative.

There's no sense in saying the War on Drugs is wrong if you can't say what's right.

Sure, the War on Drugs is institutionalized racism!

Sure, it shows the ugly face of a corporate America that sells stock in prisons, and profits from a rise in the supply of prisoners!

Sure, it excuses violence and police brutality on a scale not seen since the Civil Rights commotion in the sixties!

Sure, it depends on propaganda to keep going, for example, "Drugs are bad" - all drugs, no exceptions!

Sure, it debases the justice system, with judges who hand out unjust sentences and pocket 6-figure salaries for doing so!

Sure, it knocks holes in the Constitution, while Congress and the courts say it's okay to gut the Constitution to make America drug-free!

Sure, it rips families apart, leaves millions destitute, casts children into the street when homes are seized!

Sure, it's embarrassing to hear the War on Drugs and family values extolled in the same breath!

Enough. We know the Drug War's wrong.
The problem is we don't know how to fix it.
What's the alternative? Let's have some ideas.

The RATE program has the right ideas.

R stands for Regulation. The illegality must be taken out of the drug market. Not all, perhaps, but most drug use needs to be regulated, as alcohol use is regulated today. Alcohol comes in bottles of certain sizes, in certain strengths; it costs so much, is taxed, and may be bought at certain times and places; it is not allowed to be obtained by minors. A system for regulating drug use will be more complex than a system for regulating alcohol use, but the principle can be the same. A method for regulating drug use should not be impossible to figure out.

A stands for Amnesty: unconditional amnesty for every Drug War prisoner.

No one belongs in prison for using drugs. Use a drug and rob a bank - there's the offense. Use a drug and kill someone - that's something society must deal with. By itself, drug use is not good or bad. You commit a harmful act, and you're responsible for that act, drug use or no drug use.

The President and governors of states have the power to commute sentences. That does not go far enough. Commuting a sentence does not mean "forgetting." Amnesty does. Amnesty means "amnesia," forgetting indictment, conviction, and sentence. It means destruction of court records and computer files, restoration of lost rights. Amnesty for all Drug War POWs!

T stands for Treatment. People who use drugs and are sick and addicted need help. For them, help must be available. People who use drugs and are not sick and addicted, who carry on life as they see fit, who do not need help -- they must be left alone. "Ain't nobody's business" what they do.

E stands for Education. If you want people to believe you, tell the truth! If you want to educate, tell the truth about drugs and drug use! DARE programs and Drug-Free America programs lie. Their purpose is indoctrination, not education. Indoctrination is no match for education.

Regulation - Amnesty - Treatment - Education. RATE turns negative feelings into positive ideas. RATE defines goals people can work towards. RATE shows how to stop the War on Drugs.

Think RATE: Nothing is more important than regulation for drug use, amnesty for drug prisoners, treatment for the drug-addicted, and education - for just about everyone around.

The Committee on Unjust Sentencing
International Drug Peace Day
San Francisco, June 1997




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