The staggering number of individuals in the United States serving lengthy sentences for drug-related charges continues to impose enormous financial and human costs. At the same time , it has been grounded in the scholar literature that the War on Drugs in America is a mechanism deployed by the neoliberal state to control people of color in the United States and justify imperial interventions in Latin America.
who started the war on drugs?
With his presidency in 1968, Richard Nixon began the war on drugs, coining the term in a speech in 1971. The drug war has been a central part in republican, if not bipartisan, politics since Nixon’s presidency. The 1974 New York Drug Laws prosecuted people for a minimum of 15 to lifetime years behind the prison bars for possessing a small amount of cannabis a.k.a marijuana.
During the 1986 crack epidemic, Congress held hearings to address the alleged crisis. They claimed at the hearings that crack was more addictive than powder cocaine, and that it produced different and more harmful physiological effects than powder cocaine. African American males represented the majority of those prosecuted for crack
possession, in comparison to powder cocaine offenders who were predominantly Caucasian and Latino
Because the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 recognized 100 grams of cocaine as equivalent to one gram of crack, there was a massive influx of African Americans into US prisons, with little or no decrease in crack convictions. Meanwhile, Prior to 1986, crack and cocaine were not distinguished as different substances by the federal government. In fact,Prior to the year 2010, 100 grams of powder cocaine and one gram of crack were tested and identified as equal under federal law. Because of the disproportionate or biased ratio of crack to cocaine powder (100:1)- in favour of cocaine powder, it has been perceived that war on drugs in America is not as a war on drugs, but as a war on minorities
The US government sought to tackle the perceived drug war in 1986 by enacting mandatory drug penalties, with a primary emphasis on incarcerating crack addicts. Increased mandatory minimums for drugs were cranked up, and the “three strike” law was enforced in 1990, ratcheting up the punishment for repeat offenders. For the past thirty years, mandatory minimums, sentencing enhancements, “three-strikes” rules, and other draconian sentencing laws have increased jail stays for drug-related offences by a factor of three.
How successful has been the war on drugs?
There is little to no evidence that drug usage is deacreasing. Many critics argue that the increased toughness of drug policies have done more harm than good. And although,Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the 100:1 disparity to 18:1. The Act, was still deemed unfair in face of the public. Morever, thousands of long-term drug prisoners are languishing in state and federal jails, many of whom are completing terms considerably longer than they would be under today’s sentencing rules.
Drawing our attention to the total drug deaths incurred over the last two decades, America has suffered a total of 720,000 deaths since the turn of the 21st century. Recent data from the CDC reveals that approximately 67000 children and adults lost their lives to drugs and substances back in 2018.
effective Measures to win drug war in America
1. reviewing the drug policies
Black children are more inclined to have their parents in prison compared to white children. Additionally, Data revealed by Harrison and Beck shows that 58% of prisoners in the state were black men—that is the year 2001. The point here is that crack users are basically a portion of low-income African Americans, while cocaine users are generally affluent, middle and upper class Caucasians and Latinos. To eliminate this absurd racial disparity in the war on drugs in america, there’s a need to rebalance the current 18:1 ratio to 1:1. That way, they can reduce harm to minority and other affected communities, and the widespread systemic racism that current drug policies perpetuate.
2.second chance stratedgy
As the views on drug sentencing have changed in the last two decades, there is a strong need for “second chances” to offender completing terms that are excessive, unnecessary, and inconsistent with public opinions on punishment. In fact, Many jurisdictions have now implemented retroactive punishment laws that have prohibited or minimized the harshness of sentencing measures for people that have committed various felonies relating to drugs. The notion of the drug user as a criminal unworthy of redemption, though has taken roots in the US opinion, is an old outworn notion launched by president reagan to initiate the war on drugs in America.
3. Focus on prevention than enforcement
Enforcement indeed plays a crucial role, but prevention addresses the root problem and not the symptoms. For example, if more attention is put on supporting low-income families and preventing them from illegal activities, fewer cases of a drug felony or drug overdose deaths could be incurred. Most individuals, particularly minority groups, live in poor housing facilities, and others are struggling with health care facilities.
Definitely, it’s not a surprise if these individuals resort to drugs and substances. Moreover, such extreme conditions can compel an individual to succumb to drugs while attempting to escape painful conditions.
Morever, the federal prohibits drug felons from voting, attending public schools, or sometimes even getting a job. Once they return to the community, they are obliged to abide by more harsh restrictions. However, the felons may likely resort to drugs with these conditions considering they have to meet the tight living standards
To effectively win the war on drugs in America, the following prevention measures can prove helpful; limiting drug use frequency, limiting damage, and controlling prescription drugs.
4. dissociate the drug war from political Arena
We have learnt that most politicians use the metaphor “war on drugs” as a ticket to win votes from the public. Sadly, most of these politicians are not even aware of the harsh lifestyle spent by some minority groups . The minority groups who are presently involved in drug dealership and striving with poverty.
A great leader should give more concern to the science of addiction, rather than talk about police enforcement and long term jail sentence. Furthermore, It’s important for politicians to overcome the rhetoric of a drug free society. It’s clearly unreasonable and has failed the test of time.
why can’t the federal simply raise the drug prices ?
It would be remarkable if the federal could have dominant control over the price of distribution during the trade. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of drug price control has failed.
The drug prices may vary depending on the availability of drugs in the market—the greater the availability, the lesser the prices. For example, methamphetamine has taken a major toll on the public because it’s cheap and trendy compared to other drugs.
Bottomline , winning the “War on drugs” in America goes far deep than simply disrupting the drug markets and sending drug dealers to prison. The problem goes much deep into how drug policies are formed, whether these policies consider the lives of people living in slums and whether enforcement is based on justice.