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.
Dangerous illegal drugs have plagued American citizens and their youth for as long as the country has been in existence. These harmful drugs are not only responsible for countless amounts of deaths, but the corruption of the American society in general. All too many times have these drugs been blamed for insanity, racism, rebellion, and straight up violence. Today the government is spending approximately $19.179 billion in one year to combat these evils (Gifford). Unfortunately, even with all of this effort going in to stop illegal drug use, the “War on Drugs” is yet to produce almost any positive results. Because of this, politicians are urging the government to spend even more money to combat the seemingly
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, drug use became a major concern for most Americans. As the War on Drugs and “Just Say No” campaign were being thrust into the spotlight by the government and media, the public became more aware of the scope of drug use and abuse in this country. The federal and states’ governments quickly responded by creating and implementing more harsh and punitive punishments for drug offenses. Most of these laws have either remained unchanged or become stricter in the years since then.
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.
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.
As the variables above are added up it, quickly becomes apparent that the “war on drugs,” during the mid 1980s-early 2000s had a negative impact on American life. With all the money spent and lives ruined, the United States came no closer to solving drug issues it had faced in the years prior. Citizens took the biggest brunt of this “war” with the fact that not only did they have to forcibly financially support the “war on drugs,” but in some cases, they had their civil liberties encroached upon or even completely violated. It could be argued that retrospectively looking at the “war on drugs” makes criticizing our country and the officials in charge easy, but when you actually look at the statistics and events surrounding this time period criticism
Richard Nixon was one of our most infamous presidents. He is now notoriously known for numerous scandals, one being the Watergate scandal, and consequentially his resignation. But during his time as president, he would influence one aspect of domestic affairs that would inevitably criminalize most minorities and is counterintuitive to its cause. Drugs. Nixon had persuaded the nation that drugs were our greatest enemy. He formally declared war on drugs in a press conference speech. The reason behind this declaration and the speech itself are important when evaluating Nixon’s performance as a public speaker because they show the strategies he used to sway his people into the anti-drugs mindset that is still held by many today.
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
In January 2004, senatorial candidate Barack Obama firmly opposed the twenty two-year war on drugs, saying that the United States’ approach in the drug war has been ineffective (Debussman). Although the term, “war on drugs,” was originally coined by President Richard Nixon in 1971, it wasn’t until Ronald Reagan announced that “drugs were menacing society” that it became a major policy goal to stop widespread use. Following Reagan’s promises to fight for drug-free schools and workplaces, the United States boosted its efforts in its most recent declaration
American people identified the War on Drugs was launched to combat the crack crisis. However, Alexander claims that the crack crisis emerged some years after the War on Drugs was launched. She argues that negative racial stereotypes surrounding the crack crisis were widely dispersed on media. Reagan administration intensified a campaign to gain public and legislative support to the drug war in 1985. Suddenly media was saturated with images of black “crack whores” “crack dealers” and “crack babies” (p.5). There was a widespread discourse that crack crisis was a problem of the poor black neighborhoods. Thus, it was created and constantly reinforced the idea that African American people are drug addicts and dangerous. It is not surprising to know white people that is scared of black people. Moreover, in case you argue to someone that is scared of black people that s/he is being racist, they will claim that statistics prove that many African American are in prison due to drug issues.
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
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.
In October 1982, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation and promised a “planned, concerted campaign against all drugs, hard soft or otherwise.” The President had two ways he to
The War on Drugs began in increments, first with President Nixon and secondly with President Reagan (Hill, Oliver, Marion, 2012). While under the Nixon administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration was developed due to the thought of how drugs can affect an individual as well as a community. Drugs did not only affect the user and the community, but also the families as well as children. Out of all the presidents, it is documented that President Nixon was one who had discussions about drugs more than any other president (Hill, et al., 2012).
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.