Drug Czar Criticized Mandatory Minimums

In a May 21, 1995, interview with the Dallas Morning News, Lee Brown, then the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and former police chief of Houston, criticized manadatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses.

Brown said, "I have two concerns with mandatory minimums at a federal level: one is that low-level drug dealers are now in our federal prisons taking up space that should be there for violent offenders -- people who are a threat to our society."

Exactly! Here, the "drug czar" tacitly admits that drug dealing is a nonviolent crime, and that violent offenders should be given law enforcement priority.

Brown continued, "Number two is that minorities, particularly African-Americans, are more likely to use crack cocaine. Whites are more likely to use powder cocaine. If you're caught with 5 grams of crack cocaine, you go to prison. If you're caught with 5 grams of powder cocaine, you get probation. Thus we have an increasingly large number of African-Americans in our prison system. That's a disparity. ... I believe that it's wrong to have that disparity. ... If we're concerned about violence, let's look at violence as a separate issue and not the type of drug you're using."

Again, good analysis, Lee. The drug war has been based in racism since its origins.

Source: October 9, 1995, issue of Drug Policy Forum News, the newsletter of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas - Houston Division, posted to Libernet October 11, 1995.