Was it great news when the United States Sentencing Commission voted unanimously earlier this month to lighten punishments retroactively for crimes involving crack cocaine?
The shift will eliminate a disparity in the legal treatment of this drug as opposed to the powdered form of cocaine, which was erroneously assumed to be less dangerous when the sentences were written into law. The result of this softening of the glove is that some 19,500 inmates may win freedom within months.
In Coney Island, my gritty neighborhood, which Mayor Bloomberg has talked grandiloquently about reviving even as he lets it further decay, we continue to have a drug problem. The well-meaning people who run The Salt And Sea Mission Church have set up a homeless shelter along the main street — Mermaid Avenue –which, whatever else it does, is a magnet for alcoholics and drug addicts who congregate aimlessly on the sidewalks and menace passersby.
How many of the 19,500 newly released crack-heads will migrate to this charming spot? I am so eager to greet multitudes of them on the sidewalks as I walk to and from the subway.
Which raises a question that arises out of a reversal of that favorite slogan of the Left: “think local and act global.” What is the best way to deal with homeless rogues menacing you on the street. Typically, I keep a wide berth. I do not engage them in dialogue or lecture them about following the rules of the road (or the sidewalk).
This in turn makes me wonder all the more why the United States government is now talking to rogue states all around the world–North Korea, Syria, and Iran–trying to engage them in dialogue and get them to follow the rules of the road. “Seven years of President Bush’s Don’t-Talk-to-Evil policy are over, even under the helm of the administration that crafted it,” the New York Times is gloating.
This is the foreign-policy equivalent of talking with crack-addicts in one’s neighborhood with the idea of getting them to reform. Unsurprisingly, the Times is in favor of that, too. Its editorial page describes the prospective release of 19,500 crack-cocaine users as “a positive development, one with much potential for advancing justice.”
The editors of the Times evidently do not live in Coney Island, and it shows in their understanding of both local and international affairs.