Myrtle Beach Sun News, SC
By Gary D. Robertson
The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina should consider decriminalizing illegal drugs as it tries to stem the need for additional prisons, a former state Supreme Court chief justice said Monday.
Burley Mitchell, the state's top judge from 1995 to 1999, said the war on drugs in North Carolina and nationwide has been "a total failure" that has filled up prisons.
The money saved if police no longer made arrests and courts no longer handed out sentences could be used to treat drug addicts, he said.
"What if we decriminalized drugs? Then you'd knock out all of the profits of every dealer and more to the point, the big producers," Mitchell said at a Raleigh luncheon crowd interested in prison reform. Drug demand would go down due to lower supplies, and drug-related crimes such as robbery and murder would fall, he said.
Although many people oppose the idea, Mitchell said: "I think it's something that needs to be considered."