There are a few corners in Frankford where you can go and obtain illegal drugs. This should not be surprising. Illegal drugs are everywhere, even in those pristine suburbs where many of our former neighbors have fled. The difference is that in those suburbs the sales are conducted discretely indoors or they drive to Frankford to make their purchase and then flee back to the burbs to ingest.
The drug corners create what would be charitably called a quality of life issue. In the Economist last week they had an interesting piece on strategies now being followed in some other cities to encourage drug dealers to retire from their careers in order to clean up the drug corners.
POLICE watched seven people sell drugs in Marshall Courts and Seven Oaks, two districts in south-eastern Newport News, in Virginia. They built strong cases against them. They shared that information with prosecutors. But then the police did something unusual: they sent the seven letters inviting them to police headquarters for a talk, promising that if they came they would not be arrested. Three came, and when they did they met not only police and prosecutors, but also family members, people from their communities, pastors from local churches and representatives from social-service agencies. Their neighbours and relatives told them that dealing drugs was hurting their families and communities. The police showed them the information they had gathered, and they offered the seven a choice: deal again, and we will prosecute you. Stop, and these people will help you turn your lives around. This approach is known as drug-market intervention (DMI).
Does it work? Too early to say. What is interesting is that it is something different than what we are seeing in Philadelphia. What we are seeing is not working. The police will tell you that. Mayor Nutter and DA Seth Williams know that. What we need is something that works. We are never going to stop people from using drugs just like Prohibition did not stop people from using alcohol.
Anybody with any new ideas, please step up to the plate.
Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the original link to the Economist story.