After getting the public support for his campaign, America saw an unprecedented rise in its incarceration rate, particularly among African Americans. The “ War on Drugs ” has had a disparate impact on the black community even though blacks and whites use drugs at approximately the same levels. This is achieved through a myriad of formal and informal practices. African-Americans are targeted and prosecuted at a much higher rate even though they are not statistically any likelier to abuse or sell drugs than the white population.
The U.S. government eventually began establishing statutes against individuals possessing and using the drug. During a 1914 Congressional hearing, Congress approved the Harrison Act, which was a federal tax statute aimed at managing cocaine and attending to the dramatic increased addiction to the drug (Davis, 2011). Initially, southern legislators objected government regulation on cocaine due to its high demand and their suspicions over the power of the federal government (Davis, 2011). Southern legislators ultimately manipulated federal legislators through racist illusions to manage cocaine restrictions against Blacks only, although White individuals were the dominant proportion of addicts (Davis, 2011). Furthermore, advocates of the Harrison Act stated that “southern employers gave cocaine to black workers . . . and it caused the workers to be violent” (Davis, 2011, p. 380). Events like this guided the social processes of drugs and drug panics as society began developing racial stereotypes on cocaine because they identified Black individuals to be cocaine users and abusers (Faupel, Horowitz & Weaver, 2010). The drug panic of the 1980s led to the mass and disproportionate incarceration of Blacks and minorities.
Over policing in African American communities started during the drug wars and continue to result in over drug arrests of African Americans. Over policing may also occur when police concentrate their efforts not on illegal activity, but on citizens behavior with the hope that in the process of the investigation some evidence of crime may be uncovered. Some police activities such as undercover drug buys are more common in African American communities than other communities and consequently disproportionate numbers of African Americans are arrested for drug dealing (Nunn, 2002). When it comes to violent or non drug crimes there is a clear victim and suspect, and the police can go to the crime scene and investigate. On the other hand when it comes to drug related offences, there isn’t a clear victim and the police can choose when and where to investigate. Police choose to target African American communities because they are easier to target, which results in over drug arrests (Mauer, 199, p.143). The police focus on substances that blacks buy, sell, and places where they would sell them, which results in high drug arrests rates. For example in 2008, the drug arrests of blacks was 3.5 times higher than whites (Tonry, 2011 p. 54). One would wonder if the government and law
This reason of “driving while black” is a prime example of an invalid reason of probable cause. “Driving while black”, is an unjustified reason towards African American to be confronted by police officers. Why is it that because the man is Black he has to be committing a crime? Is it hard to believe that a group of black males may be on their way to a job interview, a men’s conference out of town, a family affair, or just going to have a good time? “Studies have proven that when police officers present a warrant, due to their idea of probable cause, they are 80% more likely to discover evidence, whereas without a warrant and just following their judgments, the rate is decreased to 12%” (Minzer 913-62). As long as they have valid licenses, tags, and car insurance and are not committing a moving violation, African Americans should not be observed more closely
Ronald Reagan was not only a master of foreign policy, but was also skillful with his domestic policy as well, such as his handling of illegal drug use within the United States. Reagan began his administration’s “war on drugs” in October 1982 (Glass). On that date he declared that illegal drugs and their production and transportation were hurting America (Glass). From then on, he made it clear that his administration would act against illegal drugs, and would do what it could to stop their influence. Congress, Reagan’s Vice President George H.W. Bush, and even his wife all put forth great contributions to the fight against illegal drugs. Ronald Reagan began to take action of his own in September 1986 when he helped to put forth and effectively pass Executive Order 12564 (Drug-Free Federal Workplace). The order was intended to create a drug-free work environment for every worker in America, and made it the law to not use drugs while at a workplace (Drug-Free Federal Workplace). Also, he signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 into law (Anti-Drug Abuse Act). The Anti-Drug Abuse Act created different types of minor and major penalties for drug offenses, and also created the
Driving while Black” is vernacular in the Black community that refers to police protocols that use “traffic laws too frequently stop and detain Black motorists for vehicle searches without probable cause or reasonable suspicion that would warrant being stopped by the Police (9,10).”
"Racial profiling” can hold a variety of meanings. As defined by the American Civil Liberties Union, however, racial profiling is "the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual 's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin" (“Racial Profiling”). Every day, blacks are stopped much more frequently for aimless searches and minor infractions than their white counterparts. Several African Americans share experiences like these, such as Roscoe Van Pelt, who was violently snatched off the street and crammed into a squad car after the ludicrous crime of jaywalking (Walsh). A more extreme example would be the case of Sandra Bland, who was brutally beaten following failure to signal a lane change (Schuppe). Incidents like these occur far too frequently in black communities, all for the color of their skin.
The War on Drugs is seen by many as an enormous factor of mass incarceration. There were more than 1.5 million drug arrests in the U.S. in 2014. More than 80% of them were for possession only (Drug Policy Alliance, 2017). 208,000 people are incarcerated for drug offenses in state prisons and 97,000 are incarcerated in federal prisons for the same reason. 1 in 5 incarcerated people are drug offenders (Peter Wagner, Bernadette Rabuy, 2017). According to Politifact, “The state and federal prison population remained fairly stable through the early 1970s, until the war on drugs began. Since then, it has increased sharply every year, particularly when Reagan expanded the policy effort in the 1980s, until about 2010…. In 1980, about 41,000 people were incarcerated for drug crimes, according to the Sentencing Project. In 2014, that number was about 488,400 — a 1,000 percent increase.” Even other factors, like
The “War on Drugs” established that the impact of incarceration would be used as a weapon to combat the illegal drug problem in this country. Unfortunately, this war against drugs has fallen disproportionately on black Americans. “Blacks constitute 62.6% of all drug offenders admitted to state prisons in 1996, whereas whites constituted 36.7%. The drug offender admissions rate for black men ranges from 60 to an astonishing 1,146 per 100,000 black men. In contrast, the white rate begins at 6 and rises no higher than 139 per 100,000 white men. Drug offenses accounted for nearly two out of five of all black admissions to state prisons (Human Rights Watch, 2000).” The disproportionate rates at which black drug offenders are sent to prison originate in racially disproportionate rates of arrest.
On June 17th 1971, President Richard Nixon stood in front of congress and announced his widely criticized War on Drugs. The President claimed that drugs were the “Public Enemy Number One” among Americans. Fast-forward to 1986, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. This act placed mandatory minimum sentences on minor drug infractions. The war on drugs not only incarcerated a very high number of Blacks, but also tore families apart in an effort to clean up neighborhoods which still affect many African American families almost a half-century later.
Starting during the 1980s, when the State and Federal government were struggling to combat an extreme rise in drug use throughout the country, the “war on drugs” was declared by President Richard Nixon. “Zero tolerance” policies, “broken window” policing, and other unreasonably severe punishments were placed in society in order to barricade the dramatic influx of illegal drug use. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), these “‘one-strike’ policies and drug arrests now account for over a quarter of the 2.3 million people locked up in America.” These nonviolent drug offenders face sentences for
In the 80’s, President Ronald Regan, declared a “War on Drugs,” which began to utilize criminal justice systems to shuffle black and brown men into a world of injustice. The mass incarceration of these men are for minor, non-violent drug offenses; which carry brutal sentences and entrap these black and brown men into an unforgiven reality of societal and financial discrimination. Alexander unveiled the budget increase for several major governmental agencies such as the FBI—funding increased from $8 million to $95 million with in a four-year span.
“In recent years, scores of African Americans and Latinos, including prominent athletes, members of Congress, actors, lawyers, business leaders and even police officers, have experienced the humiliation of being stopped on the nation’s highways upon suspicion of a crime. Few white motorists can tell the same story.” (Bouie 2014). Most colored motorists have had this feeling at least once while driving. The article, "It's Been Proven: "Driving While Black" is a Real Thing" takes a look at incidents around the United States where the multitude of racial stops have been questioned. They explore three sides of the “driving while black” issue: whites who feel they have never experienced this or were let off for not being colored, blacks who
President Nixon first declared the “war on drugs” on June of 1971. This came after heavy drug use during the 1960s. New York in particular, had a rise in heroin use. After Nixon’s declaration, states began decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana and other drugs. Many small drug offences led to a mandatory fifteen years to life. This Drug War has led to an increase of incarceration rates since. One of the earliest laws that followed Nixon’s announcement were the Rockefeller Drug Laws that to not only failed to deter crime but also lead to other problems in the criminal justice system. With the Rockefeller Drug Laws came heavy racial disparity of those incarcerated for drug related crimes. Although the Obama Administration has begun reforms, the new President Elect Trump’s views may bring all the efforts back down.
on Drugs, hidden racism and how it plays out with African Americans. The book details the Struggles of the black population during and after slavery and even before Ronald Reagan wrote into policy “The War on Drugs” which he officially announced October 1982.