David Simon, writer/creator of “The Wire,” joins other writers at Mother Jones to discuss How to Fix a Post Bush Nation – a guide to the next first 100 days:
How to Fix It: Lose the Drug War
“We are the jailingest motherf*ckers on the planet. More than that, the number of violent offenders in federal prisons has gone down to its lowest level ever in the history of the countryÖin the single digits, by the Bureau of Prisons’ own statistics. And the political party that let this get out of control? It was the Democrats. The drug war has actually destroyed the deterrent in inner cities by teaching whole police departments to chase drug stats when they should be solving crimes. And, of course, because they can’t put all those people in prison, it doesn’t even work as a draconian policy. Most people are just thrown back onto the street.
A smart politician could cite all these things, and we could stop the madness. But everyone’s worried that the little old lady in Terre Haute is going to think you’re soft on drugs. I think all the little old ladies in Terre Haute get it. The American people are smarter than politicians give them credit for. If McCain came to a Democratic Congress with reforms, I think he’d be a hero to moderates everywhere, because do you know people who believe in the drug war? I don’t know if there’s a cop in Baltimore who believes in it except as a means of getting overtime pay, hoard pay. I think everybody knows except the government.”
More of that interview here.
Simon also has an important and disturbing article about the “escalating breakdown of urban society across the U.S.” … in The Guardian (U.K.)
He talks about how crime policing in the cities is driven by politics, and how juries in inner cities are starting to actually convict at lower rates than outside the cities, due to the politicization of policing, and how even those statistics are ignored by politicians and the U.S. press.
[I]n my city, we have fought the drug war to the very end of the line, with sergeants becoming lieutenants and majors becoming colonels and city mayors becoming state governors. We have done so for decades, one day into the next, one administration after another, each claiming progress and measuring such in arrest rates, drug seizures, crime stats. And no one asks: why?
No one asks why, with all the arrests and seizures, the availability and purity of narcotics and cocaine has actually increased over the past three decades. No one asks why, with all the law enforcement committed, whole tracts of the city have nonetheless degenerated into free-fire war zones. No one asks why police commanders are routinely able to reduce the rates of robbery, or rape, or assault significantly in any time period prior to an election, while the murder rate – in which the victim can’t be obscured or clerically “unfounded” – stays as high as ever. And now, this week, no one asks why men and women from Baltimore, upon being given a chance to strike a blow against disorder and mayhem by convicting those charged criminally, would shirk their responsibility.
Well, here it is, plain as day…