To the Editor:

As much as I shudder at the prospect of defending libertarianism, I must object to Peter Johnston’s caricature of libertarian attitudes to prison reform in his column (“In liberal circles, Great Society rhetoric lingers,” 4/2).

Drug offenders, many of them nonviolent and most of them black, make up more than half of all federal inmates. Many of these men are fathers, and one can only imagine the effects that their absence has upon the upbringing and education of their children.

To be sure, outrageously disproportionate drug laws are not the only thing which have destroyed inner-city black families — the disastrous welfare policies of the Johnson administration and a ruinous culture have also played a role. However, the immediate decriminalization of most drugs would have a profound curative effect both on America’s prisons and on blighted neighborhoods.

In general, I agree with Johnston that libertarians go too far in ascribing all societal ills to the state. In this case, however, libertarians are right on the mark.

William Wilson

April 3

The writer is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College.