The War On Drugs And The United States

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When, in 1971, Richard Nixon infamously declared a “war on drugs” it would have been nearly impossible for him to predict the collective sense of disapprobation which would come to accompany the now ubiquitous term. It would have been difficult for him to predict that the drug war would become a hot topic, a highly contentious and polarizing point of debate and, it would have difficult for him to predict that the United States would eventually become the prison capital of the world, incarcerating, proportionally, more people than anywhere in the world. Today, beyond being a popular political talking point, mass incarceration has become a veritable crisis. The United States now has over 2 million citizens languishing in prisons -- far and away in the most in the globe, and a nearly 68% recidivism rate. Most Americans are quick to blame the dire state of mass incarceration in the United States today on the punitive drug war policies instituted by the likes of Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon; however the reality is much more equivocal. Further analysis of mass incarceration - its causes and factors - in reality reveals a much less black and white situation: While these severe drug war policies played almost undoubtedly an integral role in creating the American system of mass incarceration, they are only a segment, emblematic of a larger systemic crisis of draconian, “tough-on-crime” penalties, which over the last forty years placed more Americans in prison than any other
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