Criminal Justice: Dealing with Drunks

The "crime" that accounts for one out of three U.S. arrests, endlessly plagues police, clogs the courts, and crowds the jails is common drunkenness.

Roughly 6% of American adults are alcoholics or "problem drinkers," and U.S. law persists in treating even those who peacefully litter the streets as criminals rather than sick people.

In a 131-page report, the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recently condemned the legal handling of drunkenness as a total mess. In most cities, anti-drunk laws affect only the helpless and the homeless, never affluent alcoholics. In a nightly ritual, police skim the derelicts...

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