The War on Drugs: Fighting Crime or Wasting Time?

American Criminal Law Review, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

The War on Drugs: Fighting Crime or Wasting Time?


Congressman Bob Barr v. Mr. Eric Sterling
Moderated by Mr. Juan Williams
March 14, 2001
Georgetown University Law Center

MS. LESLEY WHITCOMB: Good evening, and a warm welcome to the American Criminal Law Review's Sixth Annual Debate. I am Lesley Whitcomb, and I am proud to have served for the past year as the Editor-in-Chief of the ACLR. Before I go any further, if anyone in here has a cell phone, if they could please turn it off, we would appreciate it. Thanks. The ACLR is published four times annually and our articles, student-authored notes, and events raise today's most compelling issues for consideration by legal scholars, practitioners, and students. Five years ago, this debate series was instituted to celebrate ACLR's twenty-fifth anniversary here at Georgetown. Each year we have brought distinguished speakers to campus to discuss contemporary, legal, and public policy issues of criminal law. We then publish a transcript of this debate as a part of our fall issue. And, we are pleased to continue this tradition today. I would now like to turn things over to the main force behind this event, Judy Golden, our Executive Editor.

MS. GOLDEN: Thank you, Lesley. On behalf of the ACLR, I would like to welcome you to our annual debate, this year entitled "The War On Drugs: Fighting Crime or Wasting Time." Before I introduce today's participants, I would like to say a few words about our format. After our moderator introduces the topic, each debater will have the opportunity to make a five-minute opening statement. Following these remarks, our moderator then will direct each question to one participant. He will have five minutes to respond, and the other speaker will be allowed a three-minute rebuttal. We will preserve approximately twenty minutes for questions from you members of the audience. You can write down your questions on the note cards that you were given as you walked into the Moot Courtroom and pass your questions to the aisles where ACLR staff members will be standing to collect them from you. At the end of the debate, each participant will have five minutes to make a closing statements followed by some concluding remarks from our moderator.

I now have the distinguished privilege of introducing our guests. Congressman Bob Barr, a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, has represented the people of Georgia's Seventh Congressional District since 1994. Currently he is the Assistant Majority Whip and serves on the Judiciary, Financial Services, and Government Reform Committees and is the Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administration Law. Before becoming a member of Congress, Congressman Barr worked at the Central Intelligence Agency, and, in 1986, President Reagan appointed him to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia where he worked until 1990. Congressman Barr has supported tougher drug laws and prosecutions both as a legislator and a former federal prosecutor. He has opposed needle exchange programs, worked to hold foreign countries responsible for the drug traffic that comes into the United States, and authored an amendment that blocked efforts by the District of Columbia to legalize marijuana and other controlled substances. Congressman Barr has described the "War on Drugs" as a war for the very lives of our children.

Eric Sterling is the President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a non-profit educational organization that focuses on innovative solutions to criminal justice problems. He also currently serves on the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Substance Abuse. Mr. Sterling served as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1989. He was actively involved in the development of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988. In the early 1990's, Mr. Sterling worked to establish organizations that addressed various criminal justice issues. …

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