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.
For many years, drugs have been the center of crime and the criminal justice system in the United States. Due to this widespread epidemic, President Richard Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” in 1971 with a campaign that promoted the prohibition of illicit substances and implemented policies to discourage the overall production, distribution, and consumption. The War on Drugs and the U.S. drug policy has experienced the most significant and complex challenges between criminal law and the values of today’s society. With implemented drug polices becoming much harsher over the years in order to reduce the overall misuse and abuse of drugs and a expanded federal budget, it has sparked a nation wide debate whether or not they have created more harm than good. When looking at the negative consequences of these policies not only has billions of dollars gone to waste, but the United States has also seen public health issues, mass incarceration, and violent drug related crime within the black market in which feeds our global demands and economy. With this failed approach for drug prohibition, there continues to be an increase in the overall production of illicit substances, high rate of violence, and an unfavorable impact to our nation.
With criminality already tied closely to race, the War on Drugs legislation expanded the definition of crime to drug usages. As demonstrated in The New Jim Crow, a 1995 survey found that 95% of participants pictured an African American person when asked to picture a drug user, but in reality, only 15% of the drug users were African Americans. This survey showed us the extent to which media’s overrepresentation of black
Next the Anti- Drug Abuse Act of 1986 is discussed, because this act is responsible for the harsh penalty for trafficking cocaine, which is a crime African Americans are much more likely to be convicted of. This act passed in 1986 with the support of two- thirds of the African Americans in Congress, because they felt it was justified and it was supported by the community who was suffering from a drug trafficking problem. Fortner’s point is then brought in, that it was possible to be skeptical of the drug war, while also believing that black lives matter.
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.
Nixon’s drug war, however, was a mere skirmish in comparison to the colossal efforts launched by the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s. Formally announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, the War on Drugs was marked by deep public concern, bordering on hysteria,, towards the nation’s drug problem. Under the leadership of President Reagan, the nation focused unprecedented energy and resources towards eliminating illicit drug use and trafficking.” (pp.
Alexander (2010) also claims in her argument that, “The drug war has been brutal-complete with SWAT teams, tanks, bazookas, grenade launchers, and sweeps of entire neighborhoods- but those who live in white communities have little clue to the devastation wrought” (Pg. 116). Even though the drug epidemic is an
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.
Doris Marie Provine writes her book, Unequal under law: Race in the War on Drugs, to inform her audience that race plays a key role in the War on Drugs. She writes about how this war has become a war on race rather than a war intended to improve drug abuse. Provine begins her book with some background on the first account of the “war on drugs”. She describes how the prohibition age was the beginning of this war which targeted women and blacks. In Unequal under law, Provine explains how different race groups have been given crime labels. Africans have been labeled as the cocaine abusers, Mexicans are known as the weed smokers, and Chinese are deemed the opium addicts. She argues that the government supported the war on drugs although it knew
When my audience hears “War on Drugs” they may assume it is a worthy endeavor because drug abuse is such a pervasive problem that affects many families. I must dispel the assumption that the “War on Drugs” dealt with the drug abuse problem or reduced drug sales. I can do this by demonstrating that there is plenty of evidence showing that the “War on Drugs” did not do what it set out to do and is therefore not an effective approach to the problem of drug trade and abuse. Additionally the imprisoning of citizens, even if it is done unjustly, does not reduce crime at comparable rates. Research from Harvard found that during the “War on Drugs” in state prisons there was a 66% increase in prison population but crime was only reduced by 2-5% and it cost the taxpayers 53 billion dollars (Coates, 2015). The fact the violent crime went up all through Nixon’s administration while he rallied for “Law & Order” and policing became more severe furthers this argument (Alexander, 2012). Four out five drug arrests are low-level possession charges as well, demonstrating that police policies aren’t dismantling the drug system just punishing addicts (Alexander, 2012). What’s more, drug abuse in America have remained stagnate and even increased in some instances even when billions of dollars have been pumped into the program (National
“The War on Drugs” is commonly referred to terminology regarding the government’s efforts to rid society of dangerous narcotics readily available on the streets of America’s cities. In the early twentieth century, America’s urban minority population were struggling with a heroin addiction of epidemic proportions. This brought on stigma against urban minorities by uninvolved demographics across America. James Baldwin, an already influential African American author of the time, saw this prejudice within society and wrote Sonny’s Blues as an insightful work to illuminate the struggle behind the addiction. Sonny’s Blues acts as a satirical examination on the effects of adversity, in specific the stigma placed onto African American’s that have
In October 1982, President Ronald Reagan announced his administration’s War on Drugs. Cloaked in race-neutral language, this so-called War on Drugs offered whites opposed to racial reform a unique opportunity to express their hostility toward blacks and black progress, without being exposed to the charge of racism. The racist response that Vanessa Williams received and her family faced in 1983 was clearly overt.
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.
According to Michelle Alexander, why and how has the “war on drugs” developed over the last 40 years? What are the main political and economic factors that led to the war on drugs, and what are the main political and economic factors that shaped it as it developed over the last four decades? Draw on material from the Foner textbook chapters 25 through 28 to supplement Alexander’s discussion of the political and economic context.