I want to talk briefly about two people that are in the news.
First, I want to talk about Lindsay Lohan. It would be hard for me not to admire her.
She is currently engaged in a battle with the legal system that highlights the failures of current policy towards drug use and treatment strategies.
Long forgotten in America is the holding of California v. Robinson , 370 U.S. 660 (1962), which held that the creation of status offenses, such as addiction, are unconstitutional. It viewed drug addiction as an illness and felt it would be cruel and unusual punishment to punish someone with an illness.
It is very hard to overcome addictions. Coercive models create what Anthony Burgess would call a clockwork morality.
It is not clear that coercive environments are successful. In many cases, defendants, frightened by the thought of prolonged incarceration, waive their rights to trial in order to enter treatment programs that they will probably fail.
A person suffering from addiction will have setbacks. It would be idiocy to punish them for failing, when a certain amount of failure is expected in that environment.
I hope people find a way on their own terms to overcome these problems with the support of friends and family.
The state had no duty to treat Lindsay Lohan or anyone else. However, having undertaken the duty, it does not seem it is necessarily Lohan’s fault if they failed to treat her effectively.
I appreciate Lohan’s activism on the matter and I hope scarce resources are not wasted on her incarceration.
The other person I want to highlight is Marisol Valles Garcia. She is the twenty year-old who recently became a police chief in Mexico. The Mexican drug war has cost roughly 28,000 people their lives.
Owing to the violence of the cartels, only Marisol was courageous enough to become the new police chief.
Although she is confident that she can make a difference, I feel the policies in place are fundamentally misguided and place her life at unnecessary risk. I can only hope she does not become a victim.
I appreciate her activism and hope for her safety.
Both Marisol and Lindsay have found themselves trapped in a long standing war which has failed to satisfy anyone involved. They have earned my admiration for taking risks. Their duty is not to become victims.
Society’s duty is to change. A commitment to change the policies will require an honest assessment of ourselves. The current prohibitions fail to achieve real results and it costs lives.
In any other situation where failure resulted in widespread death, it would be considered a scandal. Unfortunately, we call it the status quo.