Was the War on Drugs Successful?
The War on Drugs was a successful war, but not on drugs. What the War on Drugs was successful at was imprisoning young black youths, removing them from schools and making schoolwork more challenging and frustrating for children who were already stigmatized.
Imprisoning children destroys families, by trapping them in a vicious cycle of poverty where they lose the constitutional right to vote, lose the ability to get an education (since they are denied access to federal financial aide for college), plus a history of imprisonment makes most decent paying jobs inaccessible to them. What a way to begin a life!
This has created a cycle of ex-convict and delinquent youths robbed of their “manhood” while imprisoned, trapping them in a world of violence, environmental toxins and isolation that inevitably leads to more violence, premature death, imprisonment, drugs and unfulfilled dreams.
Society does not recognize its role in this targeting of communities of color. Every time a black youth ventures outside his invisible fence of concentrated poverty, and gets harassed or murdered, it has a profound and pervasive impact. Perhaps this is why such news is not covered; only black-on-black crime is covered.
Until a few years ago, I had no idea of the magnitude of structural racism destroying families in communities of color. Blacks are 14-15% of the US population yet about a 1/3 of the prison population. This is not because Blacks are more violent, but rather because of racial profiling that targets them, especially while they drive or when in school.
Seen from the eyes of Black youths, the world is not a hospitable place. Black youths are viewed suspiciously and deemed criminals by society. Black youths and communities are aware of these beliefs.
Imagine Black youths out to have “fun”, yet can’t, because White adults stare, show fear at their presence, stare past them, clutch their handbags, follow them into a store and even arrest or murder them while buying perfectly legal items at a retail outlet.
How would you feel if your children shared such experiences?
Black youths cannot go to a convenience store without being accosted, followed or watched by store staff. Perhaps some of this suspicion is justified, but most is not.
As adults show Black youths the same respect you show other youths: start with a genuine smile and be prepared to be amazed at the results.
Many children from communities of color lack exposure, making communication difficult. Definitions and non-verbal cues have different meanings for them.
Was the War on Drugs Successful?
The War on Drugs legalized racial profiling in the minds of law enforcement officers and the justice departments. A brief review of articles noted in the US Citizens database gleaned many established and new observations. Granted, these observations are anecdotal; therefore these are areas for further investigation. Racial profiling targets Black persons, especially the youths. Racial profiling equals police harassment, with attendant police brutality and violence.
The magnitude of the devastation caused by the War on Drugs on communities of color added exponentially to the psychological trauma of slavery, chronic discrimination and an inferiority complex.
Many communities of color live in a state of dysthymia (chronic low-grade depression) with many folks feeling helpless and hopeless about the future. Many search for meaning through religion, others through gangs, and still others through living in isolation. Remember at least one in three families have a loved one in prison. That is disruptive and defeating.
The War on Drugs has resulted in mandatory sentencing of poor drug offenders. For example, possession of five grams of crack – a cheaper form of cocaine – carries a five-year sentence, while cocaine carries a five-year sentence if the equivalent of 5,000 grams is in a person’s possession. Similarly, stiff sentences apply to marijuana, which is now legal in a few states and has medicinal uses. Where did this all begin you might ask?
The War on Drugs started in the Richard Nixon era. The privatization of prisons took off with the Justice Department collaborating with private prisons after Bill Clinton reduced the budget for law enforcement and the Justice Department.
Since then, explosive growth in prison populations suggests that private prisons have successfully rounded up the criminals from the War of Drugs. However, that was not the case, as it was just a smokescreen of stereotypes. Closer inspection of data refutes that claim by the demonstration of disparities in the justice system and law enforcement.
Private prisons and the Justice Department have a lucrative partnership (paid for by taxpayers) that arrest targeted individuals despite known innocence. These innocent victims, usually challenged in self-defense, are subjected to repeated adult bullying by police officers, correctional officers, judges and prosecutors. They become the main pool or source of income for private prisons and judges.
One wonders if police officers and correctional officers are selected for their brutality and, perhaps, their affiliation with ‘White Supremacy’.
New York City charges about $168,000 per year for each prisoner. This sum does not include benefits and other essentials. New York City does well, considering the accommodations at Rikers. States get more taxpayer dollars to warehouse prisoners than they receive to help poor families. $168,000 a year! Let that sink in while absorbing the landscape of American police state.
Could the above serve as an incentive or driver behind the rise in incarceration rates and prison populations? The United States is 5% of the world’s population, yet it has 25% of the world’s prison population (that is 2.2 million prisoners).
If prisons are packed with low offenders, how is crime controlled?
“Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
My thoughts: Police officers take the easy way out to increase their statistics and make themselves look like crime fighters. However, police officers surreptitiously frame innocent victims while leaving gang members undisturbed to wreak fear and oppression in communities of color. #BlackonBlack Crimes
Police Officers choose victims rather than finding criminals.
Associate Editor’s comments: I share the same thoughts on the war on drugs as it too has ruined many families and communities that are White, Black and Hispanic. This especially true in the poor sections of cities and communities where all those races are targeted.
As a side note, the irony in all of this is that the Government created this mess early on in the Iran-Contra Affair, when the government willingly flooded Black neighborhoods with cocaine in order to fund Nicagua’s Manuel Noriega, which in turn spiked drug related arrests even more.
Please share your thoughts… I am interested as I continue to do research.