How to Achieve Less Crime and Less Punishment: End the War on Drugs!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Check out this video of Alison Holcomb, ACLU-WA Drug Policy Director, debating the merits of the War on Drugs with renowned criminal justice Professor Mark Kleiman, WA Department of Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail, King County Superior Court Judge Wesley Saint Clair, and King County Prosecutor Mark Larson.

The event includes a presentation by Professor Kleiman entitled "How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment," which focuses on his new book When Brute Force Fails. Kleiman's basic hypothesis is that the United States has too much crime and too much punishment. And that with smart policy changes we can cut the crime rate and prison population by half in ten years.

Alison challenges Kleiman on the effect of the War on Drugs and its overall impact on the criminal justice system, arguing that one way to have fewer crimes is to simply stop treating personal drug use as a crime. Further arguing that it is better to treat drug use primarily as a public health and medical issue (the panel discussion starts at the 33:08 mark of the video).

The event received quite a bit of local media attention with stories in the Times, PI, Crosscut, and Real Change.