Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baltimore as the set for America's drug war

Shortly after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requested a renewal of the HBO series The Wire, series creator David Simon retorted that he'd do so if the Department of Justice would, in exchange, "address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive, and dehumanizing drug prohibition."

Give The Wire credit for introducing a broad swath of the public to the the politics, policies, and problems with drug law enforcement. But more than that, the show made the city of Baltimore the stage to which we turn to re-up on the latest news on war on drugs.

It may be fitting then, that on the fortieth anniversary of the drug war, retired Baltimore Police Department Major Neil Franklin took the opportunity to decry the policy.

"It's time to finish picking up bodies and move in another direction. Think about this. No more drive-by shootings and running gun battles in our streets," Franklin told Baltimore's WBALTV.

His comments come after his organization, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, published a report calling the war on drugs a failure.

The Wire established Baltimore in the popular mind as the ground zero of drug law enforcement and reform. And ideas from that city continue to flow.

Peter Moskos, associate professor of law and police science at John Jay, is a former Baltimore city police officer. His second book, In Defense of Flogging, is a clever critique of U.S. prison policy. His first book, Cop in the Hood, is a study of his experience as a foot soldier in the front line in the drug war. And when Moskos graduated from the police academy, Neil Franklin was his commanding officer.

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