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I Got Published!

June 22, 2009 -- Tampa Tribune (FL)

Drug War Fills Prisons

The reason for Florida's prison growth is bad public policy, not because there are more Floridians, and not because Floridians have grown more violent ("New law gives prisons sensible out," Our Opinion, June 15).

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Florida's prison population has been growing 2.5 to 3 times as fast as Florida's population, and shows no sign of leveling off. In 1980 Florida had very few drug prisoners; now they comprise about 20 percent of our prisoners, many for marijuana. Just as bootleggers became tax-paying businessmen when alcohol prohibition ended, so would grow-house operators.

Every day Floridians see reports of "grow-house" busts. Florida's war on marijuana is a costly disgrace, sold to voters by the same politicians who now would marginalize prisoners further from the mainstream by sending them out of state. Better solutions to overcrowded prisons can be found, but they require imagination, a quality lacking in Tallahassee these days.

John Chase, Palm Harbor, FL

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