The Law: A Dreyfus of Drunks

When he is able to work, DeWitt Easter, 59, is a skilled plasterer who can earn $175 a week in Washington, D.C. But Easter is seldom out of jail and sober. An alcoholic whose father was an alcoholic, he has been arrested 70 times for public intoxication—a "crime" for which Washington arrests 44,000 people a year. While such police work tidies up the streets, the fact that 70% of the arrests involve repeaters like Easter suggests that Washington's anti-drunk laws are more punitive than preventive. And it is just this premise that has spurred...

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