Friday, March 27, 2009

Texas prosecutor supports disease prevention, "I'm all for making this country and world a better place to live."

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley isn't the EF Hutton of Texas criminal justice that he used to be. When he talks ... fewer and fewer people listen. When Mr. Bradley tried to rally opposition to HIV prevention through syringe exchange this month on the computer forum where he communicates with fellow prosecutors across the state, he was met with the sound of crickets. (He goes by "JB" on the forum.) It's been over a week and there is no indication that any of his colleagues read his post.

The last time Mr. Bradley tried to stir up the same hornet's nest, in 2007, no one stuck out their neck to agree with him and one Texas prosecutor respectfully but firmly disagreed. Here is their conversation:

Originally posted by JB:
And next up are free cab rides for drunks at bars because of the high accident rate of drunks.

Is there a principle here for drawing a line and simply enforcing the law that is being broken?

I think the principal at work here is some realization that the war on drugs has not been very successful and that, in an effort to mitigate the high social costs of certain kinds of drug abuse, lawmakers are being realistic about the existence of the problem.

Social issues like disease and death via needle sharing, transmission of deadly disease to absolutely innocent third parties who contract via sex (or in the past, blood transfusions), the high costs to our public medical system that are basically bankrupting it and the spectre of addiction are being addressed with this approach.

I don't think anyone would argue that those not already inclined to engage in this activity would be lured into it by a program of this nature.

Instead, it is an effort to mitigate the above-listed problems, amongst others, and to extend some degree of humanity to those addicted persons currently behaving as outlaws.

If the program extended to supplying them whatever it was they needed drugwise, similar to the methadone program, I would think we could reduce drug related crimes massively, since the incentive to steal, rob, etc would be removed.

I'm all for making this country and world a better place to live. If this is what it takes to get these folks and their drug seeking crime off of the streets, not spread disease to innocents, and ease the burden on our public health care sector, then it seems like a good deal.

Bear in mind, JB, we're talking about a specific area here with problems that are directly and affirmatively linked to IV drug abuse. No one is proposing that crackheads be given free crack to smoke or a safe harbor to do it. (emphasis added.)
The Texas prosecutor association is on the record at the legislature as neutral on this HIV prevention legislation and testified that their members will have no problem if the legislature decides to grant local governments the option to use this disease prevention tool.

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