Newark's Mayor Calls the Drug War 'Big Overgrown Government at Its Worst'

In a Reddit chat yesterday, Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker reiterated his objections to the war on drugs:

The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence. We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential.

I see the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars being poured into the criminal justice system here in New Jersey and it represents big overgrown government at its worst. We should be investing dollars in programs and strategies that work not just to lower crime but work to empower lives.

It anguishes me how we seem to be so content with national and state recidivism rates of around 60% and how a staggering number of young black men are involved in the criminal justice system.

My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle.

And it is a dangerous world for people caught up in the drug trade for it is so associated with violence. Data from Rutgers University is chilling: Over 80% of Newark's murder VICTIMS have been arrested before an average of 10 times.

The Democratic mayor's comments, which expand on themes he has been hitting for years, are reiminiscent of the views expressed by a pre-presidential Barack Obama.

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]

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  • Paul.||

    Be wary of newly minted friends in troubled times.

    Is all of this because New Jersey is in budget trouble? You know, like how states become friendly to gambling once they realize they can make gambling a state-run operation?

    Will Corey Booker believe these things after Paul Krugman finally fixes our economy and we can go back to normal deficit spending instead of emergency deficit spending?

  • Tulpa the White||

    Booker's not a bad guy. His heart is in the right place and he's honest more often than not.

    I think he's coming from ridiculous economic principles most of the time, but we need more of him on the other side and less of the slimebags.

  • Suki||

    If he keeps acting like this he might end up hanging from a streetlight in Manhattan.

  • ||

    who cares?

    we don't have to tongue kiss the guy. a compatriot in the fight agains the WOD is just that.

    it doesn't mean you have to agree with him on any other issues, endorse him for grand poobah or whatever. it's good to see a statist liberal speak some truth (imo) about the WOD.

    a good thing is a good thing, but it's not more than it is.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    "I see the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars being poured into the criminal justice system here in New Jersey and it represents big overgrown government at its worst. We should be investing dollars in programs and strategies that work not just to lower crime but work to empower lives."

  • Paul.||

    You know who else said that?

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    He does not see the billions and billions of dollars being returned to those who earned it; no, he sees it being spent on other pet projects. Just a different flavor of big overgrown government at its worst. I suppose it would be an improvement over directly killing and imprisoning the constituency.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Big overgrown government at its BEST!

  • Generic Stranger||

    Pretty much. If the Democrats turn on the drug war, it won't be due to principles, logic or morality, it will be because they want all the loot being stolen and spent on it for something else.

  • ||

    nobody is claiming booker is not a big govt. liberal.

    he is.

    that being said, he's willing to go against the party line and the popular war on drugs rah rah rah approach and speak some politically dangerous words about the WOD and imo he deserves respect for that.

    he's not some kind of libertarian poster boy. he's a statist liberal, albeit one i think who has some integrity from what i have seen of him, but a statist liberal who GETS it (largely) when it comes to the futility of the WOD

    the enemy of my enemy and all...

    he's on our side on the WOD. but he's not fucking ron paul and nobody is saying he is

  • The Hammer||

    I gotta go with Dunphy here. Doesn't matter what he's fucking wrong on, for whatever reason, he's right on this.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    This guy has said like 2 or 3 sensible things in the span of 2 or months hasn't he?

    That's pretty good for a politician.

  • Tulpa the White||

    As stated above, Booker is probably the best urban Democrat out there.

  • Paul.||

    best urban Democrat out there.

    It's ok, Tulpa, you can call him black.

  • Tulpa the White||

    I was comparing him to Rahm and Antonio, but whatever.

  • Paul.||

    Wouldn't that be contrasting him with Rahm and Antonio?

    I'm here all ze veek.

  • Paul.||

    Is there any evidence, outside of his anti-drug war comments that this guy has any belief in small/minimalist/more minimal-er government? Or is this all about diverting some juicy billions into green jobs or whatever program du jour that's currently hot in Democratic circles? As JC posited above, I find it hard to believe that he would actually see fit to return those billions to the people that earned them.

  • Tulpa the White||

    He also supports school choice and called the Obama attacks on Bain disgraceful (before coming under fire from Dems for countermessaging).

  • ||

    wow. that's bad-ass

  • The Hammer||

    Briefly. He meekly walked back his Bain comments after the Obama team took him to the woodshed. It was striking how openly the MSM and Dem party apparatus came down on him for no other reason than going off message. They didn't even try to create a pretense of substance.

  • SIV||

    the views expressed by a pre-presidential Barack Obama.

    Obama stood apart from hard-line prohibitionists...

    ...advocated a “public health” approach to drugs

    A "public health" approach to drugs does not exclude "criminal justice" and could actually be worse than current policies.

    There is nothing libertarian about it.

  • Paul.||

    Aren't there people calling for a "public health" approach to Obesity?

    Mmmhmmm. Exactly.

  • The Rantin Arkansan||

    We need a parody of "The Wire" where instead of pushing heroin and crack it's 20 oz bottles of Mountain Dew and McDonald's Happy Meals.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Bunny would just secretly open up Hamburgersdam in the western district.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    South Park did this, with Kentucky Fried Chicken. One of their funniest episodes ever. Cartman pistol whipped a guy for cutting KFC gravy with Boston Market gravy.

  • Robert||

    I thought Boston chicken was the good stuff. You sure it wasn't the other way around?

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW33A3XQgQM

    Nah, I actually remembered it right the first time.

  • Robert||

    It could be worse, yes, but it's certainly not necessarily worse. And how do you know there's nothing libertarian about it?

    That's the trouble with so many commenters here: It's like if it's not gushing "LIBERTARIAN" it must be its opposite or at least have nothing in common.

  • Robert||

    Compare, for instance, to the very favorable response Booker got in the original "Ask Me Anything" thread linked to above.

  • SIV||

    I'll give you an example: In some states anyone can walk into the pharmacy and buy hypodermics. In other states you must have a prescription so some "harm reduction" progressives lobby to set up needle exchanges (often with coercive participation requirements) and sometimes funded by the taxpayer. Now what is better? Unrestricted sales of works or a "public health approach" of needle exchange?

  • ||

    my state has unrestricted sales of needles and this is clearly (imo) the better approach.

    regardless of the fact that many (injectable) drugs are illegal, access to clean needles should never be an issue.

    here in WA, they ALSO have needle exchanges wherein dopers can turn in their dirty needles no questions asked and get clean new needles in exchange for free, but imo anybody should be able to walk into a drug store and buy needles no questions asked, which is how it is here.

    despite the fact that needles are OTC, i still know some dopers who use piss poor safety procedures during injection and it's just insane.

    abscesses are nasty, and sometimes fatal and i have seen plenty of dopers with literally huge gaping smelly (abscesses smell obscenely bad. like rotting flesh. because that's what they end up as) holes in their bodies, when they finally start eroding after the initial phase.

    i arrested some kid for a warrant a ways back and he told me he had a nasty abscess (no way the jail would take such a booking) and my sgt let me transport him to the hospital instead. ER doc said he easily could have died from sepsis in the near future.

    another + if drugs were legalized would be dopers could get CLEAN drugs, because even given good injection technique/hygiene, some street drugs are simply full of bacteria and other shit.

    they aren't made in clean rooms in a lab at pfizer after all
    people are injecting the nastiest looking beavis and butthead lab meth yuo could imagine

  • ||

    yes. nannyism is still nannyism even if from a 'harm reduction' approach

    many harm reductionists are still statists taht want the govt to have control over people's body's

    the reality is, contrary to antidrug mythology, it's entirely possible and plenty of people do it to use illegal drugs responsibly, not need or want help and not be a burden to society. yes, even with heroin and shit like that.

    the problem with many drugs isn't when the people are ON them (meth being an exception because people on meth can be a fucking criminal violent nightmare), but when they need to get them and will do near anything to get them.

  • Robert||

    Over 80% of Newark's murder VICTIMS have been arrested before an average of 10 times.


    Of course, because it's easy to catch those dead people. Unless they're fast zombies.

  • Lord at War||

    Fleet-footed undead youth!

    Is there a Newsletter?

  • Killazontherun||

    No, but there's a song:

    Look out, kid! It's somethin' you did!'

  • AlmightyJB||

    I think most people just don't get what a failure the wod is. They have no idea how easy it is to get pretty much anything, anytime you want. I mean it's as if there has been a trillion dollar war on Starbucks for the last thirty years and everyone is saying yeah those cops are really making a difference out there saving people from overpriced coffee. It's absurd.

  • ||

    it's even WORSE than you say. inflation adjusted, many hard drugs, the drugs the WOD has been going after the hardest have gotten substantially CHEAPER

    imagine if starbux had dropped prices 20%+ over the last couple of decades (assuming they were around that long).

    in the area i work, cocaine is CHEAPER in 2012 than it was when i was in college.

    THAT is a pretty strong indictment of the efficacy of the wod.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    I though you knew how this works. If it's getting cheaper then we're keeping more people off of drugs and we're winning. If it's getting more expensive then we're cutting off the supply and we're winning. Heads I win, tails you lose.

  • ||

    booker's cool in my book. there was this show on tv i saw a few times that followed him around on his mayoral duties and you got to see a lot of how he reacted to stuff off the cuff, learn about his personal beliefs, etc.

    sure, he's more of a liberal vs. a libertarian, but he's brave enough to publically call out the absurdity of the WOD and the harm it does.

    i've seen a lot of politicians do so, but almost always AFTER they get out of office and their heterodox opinions can't hurt their political career

    he's right about the dangerous aspect to. all the wanking about (alleged) police brutality/murders aside, a young black male is (these are stats not opinions) far far far far far more likely to die from gunfire from another black male than he is from a cop (black or white).

    what is often glossed over when people talk about disparate crime rates (race, gender etc.) is the disparate crime VICTIMIZATION rates.

    i see it all the time with dopers. today's suspects are tomorrow's victims.

    drug trade association violence is way way way way way down from the 80's heyday, but it's still a dangerous job to trade in cocaine.

    you gotta worry about the cops, the other dealers, and spracked out users.

  • Raston Bot||

    Words are wind. And his wind reaks of humanure.

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