Bioterrorism or the Drug War: A Public Health-Criminal Justice Trade-Off

Stephanie Kane, Indiana University

Thank the drug war: Prisons and jails are bloated. Triple epidemics of HIV, TB and Hepatitis C are building. Rape, an element key to maintaining social order, potentiates disease transmission. Proverty means that this majority has no health care history. we are wasting our human resorces to build low-immunity epicenters surrounded by barbed wire. For what? Preparing our response to possible future biological weapons attach requires effective and unprecedented cooperation betweel law enforcement and public health agencies. Consider what we must figure out: 1) the signs and sympotoms that can be used to distinguish and verify bioterrorist attacks of anthrax, smallpox, and who knows what else, from more benign modes of disease transmission; 2) the communication networks that will be triggered to engineer linked law enforcement and public health responses at various levels within communities, regions, natiuons, and all their borders and ports should a case of disease be categorized as a war crime; 3) procedures for preventing further attacks and for circumscribing disease transmission through treatment and, if necessary, quarantine. And all must be carried out with a fierce attention to civil rights, especially equality under the law. We've got a lot of work to do. We need to shift our focus from the conventional wars being waged at home and abroad and work towards protecting the world's citizens from the real monsters.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006