10 June 2005
The ripe stench of human excrement is getting stronger in downtown lanes, curling the stomachs of workers who no longer want to relax by the back door for smoke breaks.... The 10-block city slum is swollen with up to 5,000 injection drug users who have less control of their bowels. Many are homeless and have nowhere to go to the toilet. Often the drug users roam out of the neighbourhood into alleys linking downtown businesses.
(Original here. )
Vancouver, you'll remember, has a "supervised-injection site," a location where heroin addicts will be supplied with clean needles and high-grade H, in the interests of, um, well, it certainly can't be keeping them off the street, can it?
Much is made of Oklahoma's high incarceration rate, and while it's possible to argue that we lock up way too many people for drug-related offenses, it's also pretty clear that someone behind bars has a lower probability of taking a dump on the sidewalk.
I can't help but wonder if maybe the most rational policy here might be good old Moynihanian benign neglect: let them be, let them pursue their highs without fear of arrest, and let them quietly expire when the drug, as it will, exacts its price.
Still, "rational" has little to recommend it in the feel-good department, so I'd be happy to entertain other ideas.