Letter: War against drugs

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The Army plans to recruit young offenders, and the organisers see the plan as offering another chance to ex-criminals (report, 8 November). The exclusions of those convicted of race or sex crimes are welcome, but as manager of an inner-city service for drug misusers I take exception to the ban on those with drugs convictions, and the implication that offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act rank morally with rape and racial attacks.

Many who suffer imprisonment for the taking or commercial exchange of drugs - particularly young offenders - have never committed acts of violence or theft and their possession or even selling of drugs has been connected with personal use by themselves and friends.

The drug and alcohol field has been well served by recovered addicts and ex-offenders who have retrained and provide inspiring role-models for dependent clients. It seems odd that people who have been imprisoned for burglary, domestic violence, assault and other crimes against the person may be eligible to join the Army, where mere drug-takers are seen as beyond rehabilitation.

LORRAINE HEWITT

Practice Manager

South London and Maudsley NHS Trust

London SW9

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