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Here's one North Carolina cop not impressed by the War on Drugs

In previous years, and certainly during the Nixon and Reagan presidential administrations, the imploring nature and tone of one North Carolina police official's utterances on outcomes in some drug cases would likely have been seen as aberrational and soft on crime.

Now, instead of being termed as an iconoclastic -- and largely unwelcome -- voice from the wilderness, the strong views being offered up by the police chief from the city of Nashville are being heralded by many and progressively regarded as preferred strategies for combating drug addiction that focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.

Thomas Bashore has taken his message out on the road, and it is unquestionably garnering attention, undoubtedly in part because Bashore is a criminal law insider who has long viewed the problems associated with a prison-first-and-only strategy for drug offenders with addiction problems from a singular perspective.

His conclusion: Locking such individuals up is simply wrong, and for myriad reasons.

For starters, few of them get desperately needed treatment in prison, which results in a high rate of recidivism when they reenter society. And the near certainty that they will be imprisoned rather than treated forces them underground and creates community problems.

And, of course, incarceration is a costly proposition.

Several months ago, Bashore gave his full support to a program in his community that encourages drug addicts to voluntarily approach officials to discuss their problem and ultimately get help at a rehabilitation center. He is encouraging other communities across the state to embrace a similar approach, stating that a lock-up mentality will only fuel a growing opioid crisis in the state.

"We have to … look at it the same way we view diabetes or cancer," he says.

And that means treat the condition, not punish the person suffering from it.

Bashore's view commands progressively growing -- and politically bipartisan -- support in the state and elsewhere across the country.

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Law Office of Christopher A. Connelly
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Charlotte, NC 28204

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