America has seen a veritable explosion of serious drug abuse over the past two decades. In 1999, the year the Centers for Disease Control switched to a new system for tallying causes of death, Americans suffered fatal overdoses at a rate of six per 100,000. By 2015 the rate was 16 per 100,000, a total of over 50,000 deaths. In the official statistics that year, nearly two-thirds of drug overdoses involved an opioid of some kind—an undercount since many overdoses are not properly coded as opioid-related. Around 60 percent of the opioids on which users overdosed were illicit drugs like…
John F. Pfaff’s Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform is probably the best book on so-called mass incarceration to date. Its great strength is that it is empirically grounded. Pfaff, a professor of law at Fordham, doesn’t cherry-pick data to support some a priori theory, he grapples with the hard realities that the data present. As he well understands, this makes his argument for reducing imprisonment a very tough sell.
Drugs are a menace of that there can be little doubt. With considerable personal experience of their downside, Neil Young made it the subject of many of his songs. One of these songs was ‘Keep Rockin’ in the Free World’ from his 1989 album Freedom.
Sadly, its deep and bitter irony was lost at the time of glasnost upon the Soviet youth who at rallies used enthusiastically to chant its chorus as a paean to freedom.