Daniel Feldman

Recent Articles

Imprisoners' Dilemma

Low-level drug dealers will keep appearing, no matter how many jails we build.

T o understand our nation's frustrating war on drugs, consider a street corner on Avenue K just outside my district, a minor terminus for Brooklyn's illegal drug trade. As a New York State Assemblyman, I have often fielded constituent complaints about that corner and alerted the local police precinct captain. The police have usually responded with a sweep of the neighborhood, but the sweeps have rarely done any good. A day--sometimes hours--after police make their arrests, the drug traffic returns to normal. I know, because my constituents call to tell me "they let the dealers out again." I used to think my constituents were right. That is, I used to think the courts were letting the street dealers off the hook But in recent years, I realized that the courts were cracking down: those same dealers did not usually return. Instead, when the police arrested and locked away street-level dealers, others came forward to take their place. There seems to be an infinite supply of street-level...