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Did Omar Little die of lead poisoning? Would a decriminalization strategy like the one in Hamsterdam end the War on Drugs? What will it take to save neglected kids like Wallace and Dukie? Tapping into "The Wire" uses the acclaimed television series as a road map for exploring connections between inner-city poverty and drug-related violence. Former Baltimore City health commissioner Peter Beilenson teams up with former Baltimore Sun reporter Patrick A. McGuire to deliver a compelling, highly readable examination of urban policy and public health issues affecting cities across the nation. Each chapter recounts scenes from episodes of the HBO series, placing the characters' challenges into the broader context of public policy.
"An engaging, fast-paced read that translates the fiction of a cable one-hour drama to the reality of an American City. Using the themes of the social determinants of health, governance, and intersectoral action, the book seeks to reframe the discourse about drug policy and the health of US cities. It is an important read for students and for those seeking to communicate the importance of social determinants of health and understand the politics of drugs and health in cities."— Journal of Urban Health
"A convincing argument that nonviolent drug users are part of a significant public health problem that demands an effective response from cities... Readers cannot help but feel sympathy for those who struggle with addiction and the plight of government officials who strive to create alternatives to this dilemma."— Library Journal
"Living in Baltimore for most of the five years that I filmed The Wire, I was astounded to see how closely life mirrors art for too many residents of this—and most other—major cities in America. I hope the readers of this intriguing book really 'feel' the problems that are highlighted and emerge committed to change."—Michael Kenneth Williams, actor, The Wire
Johns Hopkins University Press
An engaging, fast-paced read that translates the fiction of a cable one-hour drama to the reality of an American City. Using the themes of the social determinants of health, governance, and intersectoral action, the book seeks to reframe the discourse about drug policy and the health of US cities. It is an important read for students and for those seeking to communicate the importance of social determinants of health and understand the politics of drugs and health in cities.
Beilenson leads us through the rationale and implementation of public health initiatives that might have an effect on the show's characters, or on the city's embattled residents those characters are meant to portray.
Foreword A Conversation with David Simon, Creator of The Wire Patrick A. McGuire ix
Chapter 1 The New Public Health Crisis: Wallace's World 3
Chapter 2 Heroin Central: The Street Life of Bubbles, Mario, and Johnny 19
Chapter 3 Losing the War on Drugs: The Pit versus the Police 33
Chapter 4 Medicalize or Legalize: Hamsterdam 47
Chapter 5 Needle Exchange and the AIDS Dilemma: Sticking It to "the Bug" 61
Chapter 6 Treatment on Demand as a Strategy: Walon's Success Story 77
Chapter 7 School Performance and the MIA Parent: The Tragedy of Dukie's Education 93
Chapter 8 Teenage Pregnancy and STDs: Shardene's Escape 109
Chapter 9 Firepower: Snoop's Beretta, Avon's Heckler, and Omar's Mossberg 123
Chapter 10 Place Matters: Why Didn't Bodie Just Leave? 135
Chapter 11 Of Paint and Guns: Did Omar Die of Lead Poisoning? 149
Chapter 12 Obese Yet Malnourished: The Weighty Contradiction of Prop Joe 161
Chapter 13 Public Health and Politics: The Promise and Peril of Tommy Carcetti 169
Epilogue Learning from The Wire: Practicing Politics to Practice Medicine 179
Cast of Characters 189