The news and views from the national media
The alleged purpose of the [Psychoactive Substances] Bill is to ‘protect hard-working citizens from the risks posed by untested, unknown and potentially harmful drugs’. How noble of the government. Does this mean, therefore, that there is an exemption in the legislation so that those who aren’t in work, or those who aren’t that ‘hard-working’, will be able to be involved in the trade without fear of prosecution?
Niamh Eastwood, Huffington Post, 28 May
The counter-narcotics sideshow in Afghanistan was a desperate and patronising attempt to tart up an ugly and unpopular war, but it serves as a depressingly accurate microcosm for our current, almost wilfully irrational policy on recreational drugs: the underlying reasoning is incoherent; methods of enforcement are questionable; the unintended consequences are malign and disproportionate; and, the whole thing costs an absolute fortune.
Patrick Hennessy, Independent, 6 May
Each prisoner costs the state about £45,000 a year – yet almost two-thirds of those sentenced to less than 12 months reoffend again, most within a year of release since their social issues are often left unaddressed. Core problems such as substance abuse, family breakdown and unemployment can often worsen in jail. [New justice secretary Michael] Gove should be as angered by this failing prison system as he was by failing schools; even his new department knows non-custodial sentences are more effective than a short spell inside from its own studies… is it possible Gove, a restless reformer unjustly loathed on the left, might become an unlikely liberal hero by pointing out the glaring contradictions for conservatives to be supporting perhaps the most grotesque state failure of them all?
Ian Birrell, Guardian, 20 May
No one wants to ask if the mass incarceration policy of the last 20 years really works and why it is so costly. No one is willing to make money available to help educate or rehabilitate prisoners, to stop so many being sent in or to help those released recover work and dignity.
Denis MacShane, Guardian, 21 May
How interesting that the new head of the Downing Street Policy Unit, Camilla Cavendish, is an openly declared supporter of the legalisation of drugs. Such a view, publicly expressed on the record, would once have disqualified anyone from this job. Ms Cavendish was an Oxford contemporary of David Cameron, and even went to the same college. He once signed a Commons report calling for weaker drug policies. Does she say openly what he thinks privately?
Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday, 31 May