Re "U.S. official criticizes Chavez," Jan. 21
White House drug czar John P. Walters should think twice before criticizing a foreign government for its drug policy, much less holding the United States out as a model.
Looking to the United States as a role model for drug control is like looking to apartheid South Africa for how to deal with race. This country leads the world in per-capita incarceration rates, with less than 5% of the world's population but almost 25% of the world's prisoners. About 500,000 people are in U.S. prisons and jails today for violating a drug law; that's almost 10 times the total in 1980.
Despite this dismal record, the United States has succeeded in constructing a global drug prohibition regime modeled after its own highly punitive and moralistic approach. Rarely has one nation so successfully promoted its own failed policies to the rest of the world.