Now, ahead of tomorrow's final episode, the show's writers,David Simon (creator of HBO's The Wire), actor Ed Burns and novelists George Pelecanos, Richard Price and Dennis Lehane have published a clear and powerful letter in Time Magazine that summarizes (perhaps for many who missed seeing the show) the undeniable fact that the war on drugs has failed at stopping illegal drug markets, and has undermined those communities already harmed by drugs themselves.
The short article should be read and passed on to anyone you know who remains ignorant of this shameful travesty that is the equivalent of ten Iraq wars only waged on American cities over forty years. (read it here).
I quote only briefly to underscore their crucial point that law enforcement itself has been deformed by the drug war in ways which have undermined its capacity to solve real crimes.
The drug war has ravaged law enforcement too. In cities where police agencies commit the most resources to arresting their way out of their drug problems, the arrest rates for violent crime — murder, rape, aggravated assault — have declined. In Baltimore, where we set The Wire, drug arrests have skyrocketed over the past three decades, yet in that same span, arrest rates for murder have gone from 80% and 90% to half that. Lost in an unwinnable drug war, a new generation of law officers is no longer capable of investigating crime properly, having learned only to make court pay by grabbing cheap, meaningless drug arrests off the nearest corner.
But for another example of why so many journalists have failed to understand the war on drugs and have promoted its ideology, listen to Scott Simon's testy interview with writer Dennis Lehane, about the letter (listen here).