The following editorial appeared in the Fayetteville Observer:
Thirty-six years ago, Brenda Lucas was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and a hypodermic needle or syringe. She was sentenced to three years in prison.
Six months into that sentence – when she was already eligible for parole – she walked away from a work-release assignment and disappeared.
And after 35 years as a fugitive, she was recaptured in Lillington last week. She is still eligible for parole but may face additional charges related to her escape.
Thirty-five years of looking over her shoulder may be punishment enough.
But there’s a bigger picture here: How much time and money did state and federal officials spend looking for her over those three-and-a-half decades? And why wasn’t she simply placed in a drug-treatment program instead of a prison?
Most important: How much more money are we going to waste on cases like this before we acknowledge that the War on Drugs was a failure of epic proportions in every possible way?
As the president pointed out this week, we have a quarter of the world’s prisoners locked up and haven’t solved our problem.
Brenda Lucas is one of millions of faces of that failure.
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