Michael Bradley replies to Matthew Feeney in this month’s Intercollegiate Review forum:
[ . . . ] First, Feeney argues:
Although the U.S. makes up only around 5 percent of the world’s population it houses close to 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. The U.S. puts more of its citizens behind bars than any other country, with more than one percent of the population serving time behind bars. In federal prisons, inmates serving time for a drug offense make up roughly 50 percent of the population.
This situation is far from ideal and clearly bespeaks an unhealthy dynamic. But I cannot discern in this paragraph any reason that one should conclude that the laws resulting in these incarcerations should be abolished. The point Feeney is making here is that a certain complex of related policies are violated at a rate disproportionate to the US’s general population vis-à-vis the world’s. That is a factual statement from which normative conclusions concerning those laws’ fittingness within a given constitutional state’s purview of justice cannot be deduced. [ . . . ]
The rest of the article is an excellent critique of libertarian-styled arguments for legislating drugs.