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How’s that for another example of a police state? You round people up for doing something that isn’t – or shouldn’t be – a crime in the first place, then tell them you’ll let them go a month early if this poor victim of the criminal justice system gets sterilized! That’s what a judge is doing in Tennessee now: you go to jail for using drugs. Then the state offers you a choice: get sterilized or serve your full sentence.

“I’m trying to help these folks begin to think about taking responsibility for their life and giving them a leg up — you know, when they get out of jail — to perhaps rehabilitate themselves and not be burdened again with unwanted children and all that comes with that,” Benningfield tells CBS News.

Add that to Massachusetts’ program of forced treatment in a prison, with no trial or conviction, for people who use drugs. The state is so creative in the ways it cooks up to violate people’s rights. It can’t seem to help itself. The judge in Tennessee blithely commented that if he can prevent two or three children from growing up with parents who use drugs, he has done a good job. “I see it as a win-win.” Good for you. When we have magistrates who lock people up, and then force them into choices the judge has no business with, we all lose.


Step back for a moment. If the state’s efforts to help families deal with drugs – including the opioid epidemic – do not actually help families, wouldn’t you want to reevaluate policies that make drugs illegal in the first place? Instead, the state devises ever more coercive and intrusive measures in its miserable war on drugs. It will not concede defeat.

Here’s a thought experiment: unreservedly legalize all drugs. Take government out of its protection racket, where it enforces drug prohibition ‘for your own good’. Then see what happens. Here are a few things we can predict:

  • Purchasers receive a higher quality product for a lower price.
  • Overdose deaths decrease due to higher quality.
  • Drug users no longer incarcerated.
  • Black and gray markets for drugs disappear.
  • Big debate occurs about how to protect our children.
  • After hesitation, government redeploys resources currently used to prohibit drugs.
  • Jeff Sessions is unhappy.

We should note one more prediction, too airy and hard to grasp for our thought experiment: more liberty.

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