Drug Addiction Is a Disease, Not a Crime
Drug addiction should not be grounds for a lifelong prison sentence, argues Global Grind founder Russell Simmons on the Huffington Post. Challenging a New York Post opinion piece that pointed to what Simmons says is unrealistic evidence of crime in New York, the Def Jam Records founder says people need to continue their efforts to rehabilitate prisoners instead of encouraging the growth of an already overrun prison population.
The statistics stated in [this week's] New York Post op-ed "Why Crime's Rising: Drug Law 'Reform' Plaguing NY" by former Rockland County District Attorney Michael E. Bongiorno are grossly misrepresented. Mr. Bongiorno's position that crime is rising in certain parts of our state because of drug law reform is unfounded and based on assumptions, rather than facts. His entire argument is based on the increase of violent crimes, however, the vast majority (close to 75 percent) of those incarcerated for drug offenses have never been convicted of a violent felony.
Fewer than 600 people have been released under the Rockefeller Drug Law Reforms, and those re-sentenced under the reforms have remarkably low rates of return to prison -- less than 9 percent, compared to an overall recidivism rate of nearly 40 percent -- and generally for parole violations, not the commission of new crimes. These ugly stereotypes about drug offenders, that most are violent criminals, is one for the Reagan/Bush years ... we no longer believe the hype.
Read Russell Simmons' entire piece at the Huffington Post.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.