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Recovery from addiction seen in a different light

To the editor:

Reading Chad Sabora’s story (“How a former prosecutor lost one career — and found another”), a Chicago Tribune story that ran Feb. 5 in the Gazette, I couldn’t help but speculate on how he might have fared if he were African-American and not a middle-class white lawyer. The article follows his attempts at recovery from addiction, which included a number of stays at drug treatment centers and outpatient treatment.

Significantly, the story says he was arrested for possession of heroin at least two times and charges against him were dropped.

In the United States, African-Americans, whites and Latinos constitute 14 percent of the nation’s monthly drug users. African-Americans are 37 percent of those arrested for drug possession, receive 56 percent of drug possession convictions and are 74 percent of those sentenced to prison for drug possession. In Massachusetts, like every other state, the War on Drugs is fought against African-Americans. Here people of color are 71 percent of people serving mandatory minimums for drug convictions.

When drug addiction is treated like the illness it is, instead of being criminalized, the possibilities of leading a productive life without the added burden of a criminal record increase immeasurably. While I celebrate one man’s accomplishments, let’s work for the time when everyone receives the same treatment as Chad Sabora.

Lois Ahrens

Northampton

People that have a certain amount of drugs on them at the time of arrest may be thought to be dealing. We don't know the circumstances of all of these African American arrests. I don't think that it is fair for you to imply that African Americans on the one hand are socially disadvantaged ( which statistically shows a propensity for drug use, poverty, and economic disparity) and on the other hand show surprise and accusation that the majority of arrests are from this demographic population. Drug addiction is drug addiction and I don't think a white addict is less overcome by the addiction than an African American addict. Drugs show no bias on their effect due to the race of the user. I applaud Chad Sabora for recovering and reaching out to those who still suffer and I certainly don't think that it was easier for him to recover because he is white.

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