Houston Police Chief Charles McLelland, head of the nation’s fourth largest city’s police department, said in a radio interview on Friday that the U.S.-instigated drug war has been a “miserable failure.”

“Most of us understand, we do believe, those of us that are law enforcement executives, that the war on drugs, the 1980 drug policies, was a miserable failure, there’s no doubt about that,” McLelland told interviewer Dean Becker, host of the radio show ‘Cultural Baggage.’

McLelland explained how he believes current policies regarding crime prevention, drug rehabilitation and substance abuse have “disproportionately criminalized a certain segment of our population… It has a trickle-down effect, that a lot of young men who are minorities, in their early 20s, have a felony conviction on their resume, and now they’re unemployable. And we wonder why they don’t have jobs, they’re not working, they’re not contributing to society in a productive way, but we’ve put them in a position to where the odds are stacked against them.”

Becker presented McLelland with questions from members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), such as whether or not McLelland has ever hired a deputy who had used marijuana, or how he felt the growing majority of Americans who support drug policy reform was influencing our elected officials. Other topics included police militarization in light of the recent Ferguson controversy, and the response of other Houston officials to Chief McLelland’s political stance against the drug war.

‘Cultural Baggage’ is a weekly, half-hour radio show aired on Friday evenings that focuses on discussing the war on drugs.




Photo Credit: Ed Uthman

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