Retired narcotics officer fights drug prohibition

News Date: 
Tue. 09/24/2013

Jack Cole is on a mission to redeem himself for destroying more than a thousand lives as an undercover narcotics investigator for the New Jersey State Police. 

He wasn’t a dirty cop. He didn’t break any laws. In fact, he says he ruined people’s lives in the course of his duty. 

“I can’t tell you how many folks I sent to prison that would have gone on to have productive lives had I not intervened,” Cole said as spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Ultimately, you can get over an addiction, but you’ll never get over a conviction.” 

Cole will discuss the inconsistencies, racial disparity, and the economic toll of the decades-long controversial war on drugs – which LEAP says “is not a war on drugs. It’s a war on people” – at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Riney Fine Arts Center’s Sebits Auditorium. 

According to LEAP, throughout the past 40 years the prohibition of narcotics has cost more than $1 trillion; has accounted for more than 45 million arrests; and has put more people behind bars for nonviolent drug offenses than were incarcerated for all crimes – violent or otherwise – in 1970. Additionally, even though drug usage rates are nearly equal among all races and ethnicities, there are three African Americans in prison for every two Hispanics, and every one Caucasian. 

“With the U.S. prison population one of the world’s largest and new prison construction consuming precious tax dollars, with drug use high and generally the same among all population groups but incarceration for that drug use inordinately high among young men of color, the war on drugs is not succeeding,” said Dr. Gretchen Eick, former professor of history at Friends University. “Law enforcement knows this better than most Americans.  This program will help students and the public examine this perplexing problem with insights from those on the front lines.” 

Cole’s speech is sponsored by Friends University’s Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences. It is free and open to the public. For more information, contact 316-295-5503.

For more information
Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences