recently received a copy of a letter that was sent to the former First Lady,
Barbara Bush. The letter was written by six mothers whose children are in jail
because of the "war on drugs" – a "war" avidly supported by
Barbara’s son, George W., who is running for President. All six mothers are
members of the Colville, Washington-based November Coalition. What follows is
the full-text of the letter. You may find it as interesting and moving as I did.
Mrs. Bush – In recent weeks, your son, Texas Governor George W. Bush, has faced
questions regarding his youthful drug use. Recently, you responded to the media
onslaught regarding the matter, saying that possible illicit drug use by your
son or any other candidate for political office in their youth is largely
‘irrelevant.’ You asked the media to stop ‘trashing’ candidates.
are mothers too, and we understand your maternal instinct to defend your son. We
agree that a person should not have their integrity questioned, nor their future
put in jeopardy, simply because of a youthful indiscretion involving an illicit
substance. Young people, we all know, are prone to disregard risks to their
health and safety. This is especially true when a young person is already
abusing a drug like alcohol, as your son has bravely acknowledged doing in his
our sympathy for your position, we respectfully believe that Governor Bush
implied past drug use, and his views about it, are extremely relevant for
evaluating his sense of fairness and justice.
is a different question from whether his drug use, if any, is by itself a
disqualification from being president. We too do not think it is a
see, our boys also committed ‘youthful indiscretions.’ But in their cases, the
prosecutors and courts called them ‘felonies.’ They are each serving sentences
of a decade or more (some far more) for their poor choices. But those bad
choices didn’t have to ruin their lives, or the lives of their families. Most
young people mature, including those who act foolishly and self-destructively by
using drugs. Most go on to become productive citizens – just like your son.
there are nearly 500,000 men and women serving time in America’s prisons and
jails for drug law offenses – overwhelmingly low-level, nonviolent offenses.
Incarcerating these men and women costs taxpayers more than $10 billion
annually. Most of these prisoners are poor, and increasingly non-white. Last
year, more than 700,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana possession alone.
These young people cannot apply for any job without disclosing their own ‘youth
indiscretions,’ because their indiscretions became criminal records that are
permanent. Many can never vote again, much less dream of running for public
drug use, an issue that you and your son both claim is ‘irrelevant’ to the
Governor’s personal history, has been made permanently relevant to us by the
drug polices of the federal government and the fifty states, including Texas.
Our sons will have no second chances.
Bush, we suggest it is time that you have a mother-to-son talk with George Jr.
Every mother wants her children to succeed and be healthy and happy. As mothers,
we teach out children that equal protection under the law insures them that they
can not be unfairly held back by accidents of birth, race, disability, class,
gender, etc. Equal opportunity applies to all kids, even those who make youthful
mistakes. "Please tell your son that not every child in America grew up
with the many advantages that he has enjoyed. Share with him the reality that
without the advantages of position and class – access to excellent attorneys,
adequate educational and employment opportunities, etc. – hundreds of thousands
of young men and former young men sit in our nation’s prisons; many in Texas,
many for nonviolent crimes. The essence of these crimes is that they were young
and reckless, that they lacked faith in themselves or in their economic
remind him that hundreds of thousands of mothers, wives and children cry
themselves to sleep at night, hoping and praying to live long enough to see
their loved ones free. Please ask you son to promise you that if he becomes
president, he will think long and hard about the injustices of our nation’s
longest war – the ‘war on drugs.’
know in our hearts that you are profoundly proud of your children, Mrs. Bush.
Perhaps you can convince George W. that if he becomes President he should give
loving mothers, just like you, another chance to rekindle pride and hope in
Mothers of Drug War Prisoners:
Bassett, Mattapoisett, MA; Susan Bobby, Valparaiso, IN; Diane Muscoreil, Wilson,
NY; Virginia Traylor, Duncanville, TX; Nancy Wall, Merrit Island, FL; Carol A.
Walt, Vista, CA."