“Alcohol addiction is a problem for many people, yet banning alcohol made it worse.”
Joanne Naughton was a member of the New York Police Department for over 20 years, starting as a police officer and retiring a lieutenant in 1987. She worked in the narcotics bureau making undercover street-level buys for three years. As an attorney, she witnessed the drug war from the defendant side, representing indigent defendants for the Legal Aid Society in Manhattan.
Like most law enforcers, Joanne started out believing that the war on drugs was the ethical and moral solution to drug problems. But she began to have doubts when she heard about the “biggest drug busts” and “huge hauls” of drugs confiscated when the newest drug kingpin was arrested, over and over. These busts never seemed to lead to any reduction in drug trafficking or use. “It slowly dawned on me,” she says, “that if the drug laws were working, we wouldn’t be continually hearing about these big drug busts.” She realized that punitive drug laws are ineffective and lead to a colossal waste of lives and resources, not only in the US but around the world.
Joanne has spent a lifetime as a public servant in criminal justice. While an NYPD officer, she was involved in developing the first sex crimes unit in the country, a model that was widely replicated. In 1997 she ran for district attorney of Westchester County, New York. She received her BA and JD from Fordham University. She taught Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and recently retired from the faculty at Mercy College.