Drug Policy

The war on drugs is a campaign that is being undertaken by the American government with the involvement of other countries with an intention of reducing the illegal trade and consumption of the substances which are deemed as harmful. This campagn includes a set of policies and laws which have been put in place with the intention of discouraging the production and consumption of the harmful substances. The war has been in place for sometime and minimal results have been achieved as far as this campaign is concerned. Despite the registered success,the campaign has been blamed for targetting particular community.

The justice system and implementation of the policies have been pointed out as discriminative in nature. Drug abuse cuts across the racial lines in United States yet some communities are believed to be more in to it than others. African Americans have been at a disadvantaged position as far as the war on drugs has been concnerned. Although this community comprise about thirteen percent of the total population in this country and approximately the same percentage when it comes to drug users, the community makes up thirty nine percent of all those people who are arrested for drug related offences.

At the same time the community makes up fifty percent of all those convicted for drug cases. Analysts have pointed out that the higher arrest and incarceration of the African American does not reflect the high rates of abuse. This fact has been blamed on the law enforcement trend where they concentrate on the places where they are likely to get the African American drug abusers while doing little or nothing for the areas where they are more likely to nail the White Americans. As the numbers of the African American who are incarcerated continue to increase many are starting to believe that the war on drug has been targeting the community.

(Gordon, J 2004) Once the African Americans are arrested they are accosted harsh treatment by the justice system compared to their white counterparts. There exists sentencing disparity which can be attributed to race, for example crack cocaine which is most likely to be abused by African Americans attracts longer sentences than use of powdered cocaine which is highly likely to be abused by the White Americans. For the drug users snorting powder cocaine and on the other hand smoking crack cocaine are two efficient ways one can get addicted yet there exist serious disparities when it comes to the justice system in this country.

They are identical chemicals yet the law treats them different where crack users get longer sentences compared to the powder users. The law treats them as though one of them is more dangerous than the other. The first time user and trafficker of five grams of crack cocaine gets a mandatory five years sentence the same sentence is accorded to person dealing with the five hundred grams of powder cocaine for the first time. (Chepesiuk, R 1999) Racial profiling affects the African American more than any other group; they are mostly targeted by the war on drugs than any other community.

The ratio between the African Americans living in a given state and the number of them in prison for the drug related cases shows a serious disparity along the racial lines. Interestingly South Dakota has one of the highest disparity ratio yet the community account for only 0. 6 percent of the total population. Studies carried out in the past show that seventy two percent of the drug users in this country are white Americans ,fifteen percent are African Americans while Hispanic account for ten percent.

When it comes to the incarceration a different racial discrepancy is evident where majority of those incarcerated are African Americans. There is no state prison in America where the number of white drug users out number that of the African America yet they constitute the largest proportion of the drug users in this country. These discrepancies exist because racial profiling exists to a large extent on the prosecution and imprisonment of the drug related cases. (Miller, R and Othello, H 2004) This form of selective justice has a great impact on this community both economically and socially.

Having such large numbers of incarcerated African Americans means that their families at one time loose a member of their familiy. This member might be the bread winner meaning the family will go for some time without the basic necessities in their life. This only helps in the increasing the rates of poverty in this community. The family will be raised by a single parent who might not be financially stable to give the children what they need to lead a decent life. Therefore incarceration and selective justice robs the family a chance to have a decent life.

This is based on the fact that a bread winner may be incarcerated for a long time than necessary while a white American will get a leaner sentence and go back to his family earlier than his African American counterpart. The racial disparities in drug related arrests and incarcerations have serious effects on the families. Statistics indicate that there are more than two million African American children who have one or two parents who have been incarcerated. This means that these children will not only lack basic commodities in the course of their lives but will be brought up in a condition that will affect the rest of their lives.

The single parent raising up the children might not be in a position to instill the proper values needed for a child to grow up in the right manner. The child will be deprived the love and care of one of the parents leading to psychological problems which might manifest themselves later in the life. The child may pick the same traits and engage in drugs just like his or her parents. This leads to the escalation of the problem as the children get engaged into the drugs. (Crumpton, A 2006)

Once they are released from the jails, felony disenfranchisement laws apply, since the majority of those incarcerated are the African Americans, this will mostly affect the community. People with felony convictions in this country are prevented from voting in the course of serving their sentence, during their parole and in some cases they can not participate in electoral process for the rest of their lives. When racial profiling and selective justice process are the order of the day in this country the African American community are denied their democratic rights unfairly while favoring the white Americans community.

This means that at one particular moment we will have more people from the African American community who can not vote. The applications of unfair justice system robs the community its democratic rights while granting the white Americans some privileges when their level of drug usage is higher than that of their counterparts. The African Americans are at a disadvantaged position due to the policies and laws which tend to be discriminative on racial lines in the pretext of fighting the drugs in this country. Despite the fact that use of drugs cuts across all the racial lines the enforcement of the law seem to target particular groups.

Therefore African Americans are more likely to be arrested, convicted and prevented from exercising their democratic rights as compared to the white who will not suffer from racial profiling and in cases involving some drugs which are considered affluent they will get lesser terms. The political influence of this community will be greatly diminished as some of their members will either be in correctional centers or will be stripped of their rights to participate in the elections either as candidates or as voters. (Lusane, C and Desmond, D 1991)

This country is the only democracy where some people who have been put in correctional centers are denied their right to engage in elections and more likely this affects the African Americans more than any other community. It is estimated that thirteen percent people from this community can not vote due to felony conviction more so connected with the drugs. The policies on the drugs may mean well to the welfare of this nation but they have gone a long to advance racism in this country as the law enforcement and justice system seem to favor some groups over the others.

This trend if not addressed will continue to affect the community members making the war on drugs hard to win as the affected community may not collaborate as they continue to be at a disadvantaged position. The impact of African American mass incarceration on drug related cases will impact on this community negatively for a long time. As a significant number of people continue to be affected when they are supposed to be engaged in activities that are supposed to see the advancement of this community economically and socially. These people are supposed to be getting married and starting their own families.

This means that the community will have many people who are either not engaged in marriage or are starting their families late as compared to the other groups. The level of education will be affected greatly as those incarcerated will not have a chance to advance in their education or may not pursue it to their expectation. This means that the community will lag behind as far as education is concerned. Low level of education in this group will affect their advancement as this will determine the type of jobs the incarcerated people will engage in.

They are most likely to be employed in the low income jobs or their capacity to be employed will be diminished due to their records. The other groups which are not adversely affected by the policies on drugs will continue to enjoy the best giving them an upper hand. (Crumpton, A 2006) The community activities are interrupted when individuals are sent in to the prisons, the voting strength is diminished either by the number of the people who have been put behind bars or those who have been released and as a result of disenfranchisement they can not participate in the voting process.

This reduces the community entitlement of the federal funds as it pegged on the population and when the census is being carried out those incarcerated will be counted as part of the population where the prison facility is located. (Chepesiuk, R 1999) The adult members of the society are greatly relied on the advancement of the community. They are expected to bring new life into the society. As a result of felony disenfranchisement most of these people may not participate fully in the community. They will not be treated as full citizens as they may not enjoy the full privileges of a citizen of America.

This lowers their morale and may not feel accepted by the community leading to psychological problems which might only serve in the escalation of the crime rate in the community. This means that African American community will continue to be at a disadvantaged position as the crime rate and in particular drug abuse will go up leading to more victims of discriminative justice system. (Lusane, C and Desmond, D 1991) African American women have not been spared by the racial inequalities of the campaign on drugs. Pregnant women have been have faced similar effects of flawed justice system.

Despite the fact that equal rates of drug use exist among women across different races African American women are more likely to be reported to the authorities this time to the children welfare agencies for use of illegal drugs during pregnancy. There have been cases where pregnant women were tested for illegal drugs without their consent. The most affected women were from this community prompting a case to be filed against this practice which was considered an infringement of human rights which are guaranteed by the first amendment of the American constitution.

In a case where thirty pregnant women were arrested in South Carolina for distribution of banned substances to the unborn children through the umbilical cord, twenty nine were African Americans. The one who was white was married to an African American. This shows how selective the war on drugs has been, there is no way one can prove that white women are not engaged in the practice. Going by the statistics available they form the largest part of the drug abusers yet when it comes to the arrests and incarceration their number drops.

This is a clear indication that African Americans are just victim of the situation where their color and past history are largely used to label then as the culprit when it comes to the issues of the drugs. The war on drugs has not been easy, it has been blamed for using too much of the taxpayers money and increasing the population in our prisons. People who should be serving lesser terms have been left to rot in the correctional centre while other s who should be serving equal terms have been given lesser terms due to the laws which have targeting certain social and racial classes.

Law enforcement officers and judicial personnel agree that arrests and imprisonment have not deterred the drug user to stop their dangerous habits. More so the stringent laws which have been enforced have not reduced the number of people engaging in drug abuse rather they have only played a role in oppressing the African American community and the other people of color especially those who reside in the poor backgrounds. (Crumpton, A 2006) The war on drugs is becoming more complicated; one of the reasons is the partial application of justice targeting African Americans.

This community feels that the previous effort to rid America of this menace has been directed on the community while the bigger problem lies with all the groups especially the white Americans. Failure on the government to address the issue has made the war more complicated as they have not received the much needed support from the communities who would be very instrumental in the war. Since they have been sidelined and targeted by the authorities African Americans will always oppose moves that are aimed at further putting the community at a disadvantaged position as far as this war is concerned.

The policy makers should move faster to address the concerns that have been raised by various human rights groups concerning the discrepancies that exist in the justice system. (Medolf, P and Sklar, H 1994) The policy makers need to understand that locking up thousand of African American men and women will not end the problem rather it will only help in creating other economic and social problem which might impact negatively in the community and the nation at large. They need to understand the root causes of this anti social behavior and seek different ways to eliminate it.

The methods used should be fair to all the culprits regardless of their social and racial classes. It should be applied impartially without creating a situation where some members of the society feel targeted. (Goodley, T 2003) There are certain proposal that the lawmakers can effect to reduce the problem altogether. They should aim at increasing the job skills and education opportunities something which will go along way in reduction of unemployment among the youth.

Reducing incarceration can also go a long way in reducing the problem as government embarks on other measures of discouraging drug abuse. (Neal, B 1990) Preference of punishment by our society has only made matters worse for the war on the drugs as those involved may not be reformed by the punitive measures that are employed. This calls for the application of other methods such as treatment and parole for those who might not be violent. All the same stringent measures need to be put in place so that potential drug users can be deterred from engaging in this dangerous practice.

These tough laws should be accompanied by meaningful services which will help the drug abusers who have been in the correction centers to engaged in productive activities . This will help in ensuring that the rate of recidivism are kept low. It is necessary for the lawmakers to develop programs that will go along with the stringent laws to help integrate the former drug addicts into the society and become productive members through their positive contribution. (Nusak, D 1992)

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