The Wire Writers Vs. The Drug War: They Will Vote To Acquit


Five writers of The Wire, the HBO drama that ends a 5-year run this Sunday, have a suggestion to fight the drug war: jury ification. Writing in Time magazine, the writers say the drug war has ravaged law enforcement. In cities where police commit the most resources to arresting their way out of their drug problems, the arrest rates for violent crime have declined. In Baltimore, where The Wire is set, drug arrests have skyrocketed over three decades; in that span, arrest rates for murder have gone from up to 90 percent to half that. Say the writers: “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.”

The writers conclude that the drug war “long ago transformed itself into a venal war on our underclass,” with the result that prison population doubles and drugs remain. The Wire writers say that if they are asked to serve on a jury in a drug case, “will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will – to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty – no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war.”


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