"Attempting to isolate and purge the criminal element from among the poor is a time-honored American tradition. But in practice, the criminal element proves hard to pinpoint, since poor people in the real world aren’t neatly sorted into helpless victims and ruthless predators.
Take Sidney Wilson, the drug-policy activist mentioned above. His biography fits the stereotype of a ruthless drug criminal. He spoke to Seattle Weekly last month about his work with the activist group VOCAL to bring safe drug sites and harm-reduction (as opposed to abstinence-obsessed) drug policy to Seattle. Today Wilson is pushing 60, and he’s run out of steam. “I don’t drink, I don’t do none of that madness anymore,” he says. “I realized that I wasn’t designed to live in the streets . . . Crack took everything from me. I can’t live like that again. I’m not built like that no more.”
Wilson says he’s been clean for a decade."