The War On Drugs And Its Effects On The United States

817 Words4 Pages
The War on Drugs had its official start during the Nixon administration when the president declared that drug abuse was now “public enemy number one.” Since then, over one trillion dollars have been spent on various programs to combat drug abuse. Ultimately, however, the War on Drugs did not limit national daily drug use. Instead, the War on Drugs had a greater impact on the United States’ justice, education, and healthcare systems than it did to limit citizen drug use. The War on Drugs has had a profound impact on the current legal system of the United States. The Reagan Administration, especially, shifted penal focus away from the drugs themselves and onto the user, leading to increased rates of incarceration. One of the factors leading to high inmate populations was the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences through the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. This removed human discretion from the judicial process and judges were no longer able to tailor sentences to individual circumstances. However, this did not prevent bias from entering the legal system. During Reagan’s presidency, mandatory minimum sentences for possession of crack cocaine were much higher than those for possession of powder cocaine. At this time, crack use was associated with poor inner-city blacks while privileged whites were associated with cocaine powder use. Critics of the War on Drugs cite this incredible imbalance in penalty structures to note the unfairness of the legal system during the
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