Don Winslow To Congress: Stop Fighting The Unwinnable War On Drugs

Best-selling author and longtime chronicler of the U.S. war on drugs Don Winslow took out a full page ad in today’s Washington Post urging Congress to end that “unwinnable” war and begin legalization. Winslow’s open letter begins: “The only way to win the war on drugs is to stop fighting.”

Winslow’s latest critically acclaimed book The Cartel was published last week as the so-called war on drugs enters its 45th year. The Cartel is the follow-up to his 2005 novel, The Power of the Dog.  In addition, Winslow’s novels Savages and The Death And Life Of Bobby Z were made into movies and his work has also aired on network TV.

Winslow has spent the past 15 years writing about the escalating violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. He has interviewed drug traffickers, DEA agents, FBI personnel, attorneys, intelligence agents, Counter Terrorism Drug Task Force, ATF, ICE agents and numerous police officers–and remains in touch with many of them.

Winslow’s writing on the subject has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Huffington Post and newspapers in Mexico, Italy, Germany and other countries. James Ellroy praised The Cartel as “the War and Peace of dope-war books.”

“A half-century of failed policy, one trillion dollars and forty-five million arrests has not reduced daily drug use–at all,” Winslow says. “The U.S. still leads the world in illegal drug consumption, drugs are cheaper, more available, and more potent than ever before…. The answer is legalization.”

In his letter to Congress and the President, the author details how “decades of failed policies have fueled widespread violence and filled our prisons with non-violent and disproportionately black drug offenders.” Winslow also blames the drug war for the increased militarization of America’s police, which has had terrible consequences. “Police departments have become occupying armies,” he writes. “We can draw a direct line between the War on Drugs and the recent events in Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore and elsewhere.”

“More African-American men are in prison or the ‘system’ today than there were slaves in 1850,” writes Winslow. “And you don’t just throw an individual behind bars, you throw his or her whole family. Almost 3 million kids have a parent in jail on a drug charge, and they’re more likely to be on welfare, drop out of school, go out on the corner and sell drugs to start the whole tragic cycle all over again.”

“We need Congress to have the courage to step up and say not that the system is broken and in need of repair, but that in 1971 we made a colossal trillion dollar mistake that has destroyed this country, and it has to stop,” writes Winslow. “How much more money do we have to waste, how many more families have to be destroyed, how many more people have to e killed before you summon the courage to tell the truth to the American people?”

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