The War On Drug: Reasons Behind The Criminalisation of Drugs and Functions of Crime In Society

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The War On Drug: Reasons Behind The Criminalisation of Drugs and Functions of Crime In Society

The history of the War on Drugs in the United States can be traced back to 1914 with the Harrison Act, the first recorded law to ban the domestic distribution of drugs, as the cornerstone of the criminalisation of drugs in America (McNamara, 2011). However the popularisation of the criminality of drug use was when President Richard Nixon coined the term ‘War on Drugs’ in 1971 (Provine, 2011, p.45). This essay focuses on the disproportionality of incarceration rates between African and Anglo Americans, and illustrates the unequal operation of law enforcement on African-Americans (Provine, 2011). This essay applies Marxist criminology to argue that
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The beginning of the drug war was caused by the fear of the mass migration of ethnic minorities would disrupt the hierarchy system that maintains ‘social orders’ in America (Johnson & Jones, 1998). In order for the rulers to remain in power over the powerless, they had to label behaviours as deviant through rule making and rule enforcement (Johnson & Jones, 1998). Out of dissatisfaction or fear of the existing conditions, the rule makers “may assign ‘new’ meanings to certain behaviours and transform public perceptions by introducing new images, or targets for law enforcement” to benefit or protect themselves (Johnson & Jones, 1998, p.986). This was evident through the media by largely portraying drug dealers as black, violent, powerful and rebellious against legal authorities (Provine, 2011). In 1993, over 64% of Americans believed that drug use was a critical cause of crime, and is mostly associated with African-American (Johnson & Jones, 1998). The powerful were successful in using political power to create stereotypes and unequal law enforcement to free themselves from charges of crimes, such as white-collar crimes and human rights abuse, by diverting the public’s attention to drug-related crimes (Bradley &…

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