Traffic, here's a scathing jeremiad against the war on drugs, notable both for the author's position and for the su"/>
 

WHY OUR DRUG LAWS HAVE FAILED AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs

Lisa McGirr, Author
Lisa McGirr, Author WHY OUR DRUG LAWS HAVE FAILED AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT: $59.50 (320p) ISBN 978-1-56639-860-2 ISBN 1-56639-859-2
Reviewed on: 03/26/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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As provocative and topical as the film Traffic, here's a scathing jeremiad against the war on drugs, notable both for the author's position and for the sustained anger of its argument. Following his career as a federal prosecutor and a trial judge, Gray, now a California Superior Court justice, is struck by the revelation that the so-called war on drugs was "wasting unimaginable amounts of our tax dollars, increasing crime and despair and severely and unnecessarily harming people's lives... the worst of all worlds." He effectively documents a growing coalition of often conservative lawyers, legislators and justices who view the drug war's impotent dream of national abstinence as folly and its shadow effects (from imprisonment of nonviolent offenders to diversion of law enforcement resources) as dangers to liberty. Gray writes with the courage of his convictions, bluntly addressing the most controversial elements of the drug war. For example, he asserts that politicians offer slavish loyalty to the drug war because it is "fundable," not because it is winnable. Similarly, Gray details how drug prosecutions have both whittled away at constitutional protections and corrupted many police agencies. He even takes the radical step of humanizing drug users. Without assuming a libertarian stance, he establishes that the risks to an individual who is determined to use drugs are dwarfed by the harm caused to the community by overaggressive policing and the criminal economy. Gray's crisp prose is mercifully short on legalese, and his book has the structural clarity of an accessible legal text. This quality, and the sensible passion of Gray's conclusions, will make this a crucial reference for those politicians, voters, activists and law enforcement agencies seeking to reform established policy. (Apr.)

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