Anti-Drug Bias

|

Writing in Saturday's Washington Post, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation President Eric Sterling, who served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1989, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums President Julie Stewart recall how the death of college basketball star Len Bias from a cocaine overdose two decades ago led to draconian federal drug penalties that are still with us. A recent CQ Weekly article contrasts the highly punitive reaction to crack in the 1980s with the current, less harsh reaction to methamphetamine. The story suggests the difference has much to do with race, although (as I noted in my recent review of the book Tulia) black politicians such as Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) were at least as gung-ho about the crack crackdown as their white colleagues.

NEXT: Mighty Morphin' Iraqi Rangers

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Meth is huge in the gay community. It would be very politically incorrect to crack down on the Gay community.

  2. It would be very politically incorrect to crack down on the Gay community.

    Right, like by denying the right to marry.
    According to all the scary stats, it’s also big in rural areas. Maybe they don’t want to crack down on the bible belt.

  3. and as i mentioned, it wasn’t just black politicians who were hyooge on cracking down on crack :l

    it was (mostly) black community members and leaders in predominantly black communities who were major pushers (so to speak) of harsher drug penalties for crack

    the vast majority of blacks in the poor neighborhoods mostly affected by crack did not do crack (obviously), but they were signficantly negatively affected by it

  4. “According to all the scary stats, it’s also big in rural areas. Maybe they don’t want to crack down on the bible belt.”

    Bingo.

  5. According to all the scary stats, it’s also big in rural areas. Maybe they don’t want to crack down on the bible belt.

    Heh… I wouldn’t put it past them.

  6. there is nowhere near the violent crime associated with crack dealing as there was with crack dealing in the 80’s. the crime stats don’t lie

    whther this has to do with the nature of crack qua crack vs. meth, or the fact that the drug trade has matured, or harsh sentencing of gun totin drug dealers – is not the point.

    the difference is notable

    meth is so swimmingly easy to make, it is exceptionally hard for gang members to control it’s production

  7. once this meth “epidemic” blows over in a few years they’ll be another super drug wondewring the streets looking for people to get addicted to.

  8. Len Bias’s death didn’t lead to the War on Drugs. The need to cover up Iran-Contra before the 1986 elections led to it. It kept the reporters busy.

  9. Len Bias’s death didn’t lead to the War on Drugs. The need to cover up Iran-Contra before the 1986 elections led to it. It kept the reporters busy.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.