President Jimmy Carter Rips the Drug War

President Jimmy Carter Rips the Drug War

In an op-ed with the New York Times, former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter has come out strongly in opposition to the war on drugs and in favor of the recommendations put forward by the Global Commission on Drug Policy in this recent report. Check out the above clip from The Last Word with Lawerence O’Donnel that features Michelle Alexander and highlights aspects of Carter’s op-ed:


The commission’s facts and arguments are persuasive. It recommends that governments be encouraged to experiment “with models of legal regulation of drugs … that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.” For effective examples, they can look to policies that have shown promising results in Europe, Australia and other places.

But they probably won’t turn to the United States for advice. Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults!

The Last Word is a popular show on MSNBC – and the video segment above ends with Lawrence O’Donnell thanking Michelle Alexander for her work to educate people about ending the war on drugs. The coalition for drug policy reform is growing larger by the day and representing so many different political, cultural and socioecomonic backgrounds. With reports like LEAP’s Ending the Drug War: A Dream Deferred, the GCDP’s findings and former U.S. presidents coming out in support of legalization and regulation, we’re getting closer to the tipping point.

*Also, don’t miss SSDP board member Eric Sterling’s recent Alternet piece here.