William Cooke | LEAP | Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

About William Cooke

Former Prosecutor
William Cooke
Former Prosecutor

"The War on Drugs is a colossal waste of time and resources."

William Cooke
William (Bill) Cooke witnessed firsthand the impact the "War on Drugs" had on many young people during his four years as a prosecutor with Maryland's Attorney's Office for Baltimore City. Kids as young as eleven years old, arrested for possession or sale of drugs, were processed through the system so hastily, he says, that the courtroom became a mere training ground for their criminality as adults, if they lived that long. "No one ever believed it did the kids any good," Bill says. "It was a joke and a bad one at that."

Bill began his law career with doubts that the Drug War was effective. After successfully prosecuting many drug offenders basically for their addictions, the futility of prohibition became glaringly apparent to him. "It is," Bill says, "a colossal waste of time and resources"

While working as a prosecutor for the General Felony Unit, Bill discovered it was rare to find burglaries which were not drug related. "Most people would not be breaking into homes if substances like heroin were legal and regulated," he says. "I was frustrated at often having to postpone violent felony cases in Baltimore because the courts were clogged with misdemeanor narcotics cases." Bill is convinced that gang-related crime and criminal activity in general would greatly diminish if drugs not prohibited. He also believes the billions of dollars of state revenues from taxation of drug use and the savings generated by no longer diverting valuable court resources would be added bonuses.

Bill was relieved to learn of the educational activities of the police, judges, and prosecutors of LEAP. He hopes to raise awareness on this vital issue and stimulate debates about legalizing all drugs with different levels of regulation. Looking to the future, Bill says, "I hope to see and end to the system of drug prohibition in the next few years."

At 32-years-old, Bill is now a public defender in Maryland, where he grew up. He holds a B.A. in History from Loyola College and attended University of Baltimore School of Law, where he became a member of the Maryland Bar.

The opinions expressed by William Cooke do not reflect the official position of his employer. The mention of the Office of the Public Defender solely constitutes biographical background information and should not be construed in any way as an endorsement of LEAP by the Office of the Public Defender.

Baltimore, MD


drug policy, history

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