Drug addiction is an unalloyed evil, a destroyer of lives and families, an invitation to unemployment, poverty, disease, and in many cases an early death. But not every evil is a matter for the police and the prisons; in the matter of drug abuse and addiction, it has taken our nation a tragically, even catastrophically, long time to begin to figure that out. Many people will dabble in drugs without ever becoming addicts, and many of those who are arrested on drug charges suffer far more from their criminal histories than they ever do from the drugs. The war on drugs has filled our prisons and contributed to the scandalous conditions therein, which should be a source of deep and abiding shame for any decent and patriotic American. There are some horrible and evil people in our prisons, but no human being deserves the treatment — from casual brutality to constant rape — meted out there.
As Radley Balko has expended much ink and many pixels pointing out, the economics and the rhetoric of the drug war — which too many in positions of power regard as an actual war — have contributed significantly to the militarization of our police agencies, giving rise to the spectacle of small-town police officers rolling through suburban streets in armored vehicles and camouflage fatigues.
Governor Christie can expect serious opposition.