It is quite clear that the war on drugs and related crimes is the cause for the rapid increase in rates of incarceration coupled with rise in violent crimes. According to Vivien Stern of London’s King’s College, America’s pursuit of the drug war is based on ignorant extremism. According to statistics revealed in 2008 by the United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the population of individuals put behind bars for drug crimes in federal and state prisons are well over half a million. In 2007, violations resulting to parole and probation contributed 33% of fresh prisons and jail admittance, and the number among those who are in for drug crimes is relatively high.
According to the report filed by the US Department of Justice, about 40% of present reformatory admissions entail felonies without straight or direct victim other than the person responsible for the misdeed. The report further found out that the drug offenses amount to the most prevalent crimes’ group, totaling up to 31% of the overall prison admissions ensuing from the drug offenses. It was also revealed that 33% of the total admissions in prisons resulted from non-violent related crimes. The Department of Justice, in 2007, issued a report indicating that the number of drug arrests that year alone was 1,841,182. It was also revealed that drug abuse arrests constituted the highest number of arrests in categories of offenses. The investigative commission under the Department of Justice found out that marijuana detainees contribute to 47.4% of the overall drug abuse arrests. This gives a rough estimation that on average, 872,720 individuals were incarcerated for marijuana crimes, and also it is worth noting that 89% of the total arrests for marijuana were the drug possession arrests. These arrest statistics in 2007 were worse compared to those in the preceding year, where 829,627 individuals were put under arrest for marijuana. 2005 saw 786,545 marijuana users arrested, implicating that there was an increase in the number of incarcerations. Without a doubt, marijuana requires concentrated focus of the police and movement as it is the crime number one taking place at Wall Street. These facts have brought controversy with a few groups arguing that people do not get arrested for possession. However, statistics show otherwise; according to FBI records, possession alone account for 83% of all drug arrests. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, though the current War on Drugs is quite expensive to the country (costs approximately more than a trillion dollars), since its implementation, it has generated slight or no impact on the supply and demand for drugs in the United States.
It is quite understandable why the government has put so much effort, resources, and money in the fight. Figures from the DEA show that drug consumption has shot up 13 times since 1980. All expenses related to drugs have also increased together with the prosecution and incarceration of drug users, traffickers, or those found in possession. Report by Drug Policy Alliance indicate that drug consumption and peddling occur at an equal pace based on ethnic and cultural categories; however, colored individuals are radically unduly represented in prisons in the US. 75% of all individuals incarcerated for drug crimes are colored. A 2006 report by the ACLU reveals that African Americans account for an approximated 15% of overall drug users, but they make up 38% of people arrested for drug offenses, about 60% of the ones convicted, and about 75% of total drug criminals sent to prison.
As a result of the implementation of compulsory minimums, three-strike laws, and the federal guidelines on sentencing, individuals will probably be convicted and serve extended sentences. This action may bear heavy effects on the socio-economic and ethnic or racial composition of the American prisons. For instance, federal sentencing procedures state that judges inflict identical prison sentence of 5 years for custody of five grams of crack similar to five hundred grams of cocaine powder. Taking into consideration that about 80% of sentenced crack consumers are African Americans, this shocking lack of correspondence may have fuelled the increase in the number of low-level Black Americans crack users in the prisons. Having tougher mandatory sentencing laws encompassing certain types of drugs, racial discrimination is inherent in the emphasized War on Drugs.
In the midst of low degree nonviolent drug criminals, women are overrepresented. They constitute no more than 7% of the current prison inhabitants; nevertheless, the overall number of females in reformatory institutions in the past three decades has shot up by a staggering 400%, and colored women’s number in prisons has risen by 800%. Study shows that more than 66% of all women in American prisons are mothers; 70% of these mothers were most likely incarcerated for commitment of a nonviolent crime. It is also known that the greater fraction of women in American prisons do not have even High School diplomas; a lot of them have psychological sickness, and others suffer from alcohol and drug over reliance. More than 50% of the total number of women in the prison has gone through some type of sexual violence and hostility before admission to the prison or reformatory system.
Evidently, the government’s War on Drugs, through its intense concentration on imprisonment, has appreciated disciplinary retribution instead of a rehabilitative approach to drug compulsion and may have opted to observe drug addiction and usage as an ethical breakdown and a criminal offense rather than an addiction, and has failed to appropriately react to the reasons that may bring about drug usage. Instead of the government addressing significant public concerns like unemployment, psychological illness, homelessness, sexual violence, high levels of illiteracy, and increasing levels of poverty, the government has chosen to address minor issues like drugs, creating a society that opts for shortcuts to solve issues. This method has led to the incarceration of so many people in America who serve only to hide the drivers of offenses, consequently leaving these individuals worse off while evading any additional debate on them.
According to the social medicine journal, federal government data show that federal and state prisons house more than 41,000 individuals serving sentences related to marijuana charges. This figure is not inclusive of incarcerates in county jails. This figure is by far more than the number incarcerated for all charges put together in 8 different European countries. In the United States, youths’ arrests for offenses related to marijuana may have severe results as a conviction on drug leads to an automatic disqualification from federal scholarships and student loans.