"What is it that you saw, you learned, you heard, that made you think about the drug trade and its impact on the inner cities that compelled you to then want to tell these stories?"
A beat reporter in Baltimore and a state senator from Chicago: two men who saw the disproportionate impact of America’s war on drugs firsthand early in their careers.
That experience would shape the way they viewed criminal justice in America and the reforms they hope to make a reality for communities that the drug trade – and the way we currently enforce our drug laws – can tear apart.
This week, that former reporter – David Simon, the creator of HBO’s The Wire – and that former young senator -- President Barack Obama -- sat down to talk honestly about the challenges law enforcement face and the consequences communities bear from the war on drugs. Listen to what they had to say:
The limited resources that police departments must commit to street-level drug enforcement. The growing incarceration rate that disproportionately affects African-American and Latino communities. The generation of young men who are forced to grow up without a father. The President and David delved into what those challenges mean for Americans across the country – and their hopes for a future that delivers a smarter, fairer, and more just system for all:
President Obama: If we can start down this path to a more productive way of thinking about drugs and its intersection with law enforcement, 20 years from now we can say to ourselves, well, maybe we got a little smarter. And we didn’t get here overnight; we're not going to get out of it overnight. But the fact that we've got people talking about it in a smarter way gets me a little encouraged.
David Simon: From your mouth to God’s ear.