Friday, March 23, 2012

FIXING CALIFORNIA AND OUR NATION DRUG PROBLEM


Por Tony Franco 
California's criminal justice system is overcrowded and out of money. Let's get real about drug policy: possessing a small amount of drugs for personal use should NOT be a felony offense. Locking people up for personal low-level drug use wastes jail space and tax dollars, and does nothing to cure addiction or stop the kinds of crime that go along with it.
State Senator Mark Leno is urging his fellow legislators to abandon the "lock 'em up" mentality when it comes to low-level drug users with a new bill: SB 1506. SB 1506 would treat possession of drugs for personal use as amisdemeanor instead of a felony, and reduce the maximum penalty from three years to one year.
California voters want this change: a March 2011 poll showed that a whopping 72% of California voters support reducing the penalty for possession of a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor.
People who use drugs for personal use should be sent to recovery programs, drug is an addiction, a health problem, a social problem, an erroneous escape to problems, let´s treat addiction as a social and health problem not a crime!
Let´s build conscience on our teenagers, let´s include classes in the regular school curriculum about drug awareness and problems of addiction. LET´S FACE THE DRUG PROBLEM AS A DISEASE NOT A CRIME.
Building more jails will not solve the drug problem, but building more parks, creating more lighted sports centers around the country where teenagers and adults can come together and play sports, having a drug counselor on each school where kids can come and talk freely about their problems and addictions without being punished for trying to help themselves, and not just being expelled or thrown out of school, closing the doors to their education dreams, just because they seek help, or are found with a joint in their packets. 
We should ask ourselves WHY MORE AND MORE KIDS ARE USING DRUGS? Many our left alone at home, while both parents work, some of them maybe need both parents to work to meet their needs because maybe they earn the minimum wage and have a big family, but others just love to have more than one car, live a luxurious life, while their kids lack love and attention. 
Ask yourself WHAT IS BEST? TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE CAR, HAVE A MANSION, GIVE YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER MONEY AND THE BEST CLOTHES BECAUSE YOU FEEL GUILTY OF NOT SPENDING TIME WITH THEM, AND HAVE YOUR KIDS ON DRUGS AND GANGS BECAUSE YOU WERE NEVER THERE FOR THEM LIVING ON A 7AM TO 7PM SCHEDULE AND COMING EVERYDAY TO AN EMPTY HOME AND YOU DON´T EVEN KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILD IS.....
I invite you to see our reality, our kids our dropping out of school, teen violence is growing, drug addiction is growing, but yet we spend more money on wars fighting for power and freedom? WHAT KIND OF FREEDOM? Our young soldiers dying away from home in a far away land, fighting to protect the political interests of a few?
It´s time to OPEN OUR EYES BEFORE IT´S TOO LATE! 
People that are starting to use drugs at a low level and for personal use, need attention and support to fight the drug addiction, they don´t need to be thrown in jail! Leave that place for the ones selling and intoxicating our youth. 
Leave your comments or feel free to write me an email: tonyfranco@elnoticoto.com
I want to thank Hanna Dersowitz, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform Advocate from ACLU of Southern California,  for her assistance with this note.

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