Since the War on Drugs, individuals of color have been undoubtedly targeted. Before the war on drugs in 1971 there was around 200,000 African Americans in our prison system, today there is over 2 million African Americans in our prisons. The use of racial discrimination and an unequal drug war has put an immense amount of suffering on communities of color. Discrimination in our country has reached every level of our criminal justice system. People of color are more likely to be stopped and frisked by police officers, twice as likely to face a mandatory minimum sentences, and are more likely to be incarcerated. In our prison system today, African Americans take up 80% of the inmates in our federal prisons. This is beyond unfair. To make things even worse, over half of the inmates are in prison for either possession or marijuana charges.
Judges have been forced to hand out life sentences on young black men like it’s candy. It’s astonishing to me that possession crimes can receive that type of punishment in today’s society. Although studies have been proven that Caucasians abuse drugs more than African Americans, Caucasians aren’t targeted. Our society talk’s about how drug use is a young African American man’s problem but yet the statistics don’t correlate. While people of color are forced to rot behind bars, wealthy white men continue their drug use at their desks. One example of this is Jordan Belford. Although Jordan Belford was taken into custody for his white collar crimes, his drug use was out of control. Belford’s famous life movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, accurately depicts how frequently bankers use drugs during their office hours but yet the government doesn’t care about them.
While I believe the entire War on Drugs reform needs to be reviewed, I think it’s crucial for our government to realize what they’re doing to our society. Discriminating races is beyond disgusting and outdated. I think it’s important to readjust how the system approaches young African American men specifically. Reviewing the cases of inmates currently serving time can be a hassle but also give us many solutions. By reviewing cases we can reevaluate the minimum sentences being faced for marijuana possession. This will in turn benefit our prison system by releasing nonviolent inmates whom have served their time and also reduce the amount of racial discrepancies in prison. Implementing treatment programs will also help be affective on giving people of color treatment options for their drug addictions. This is crucial because these inmates may or may not have the resources to seek treatment outside of prison by themselves. Giving this type support system shows inmates their not alone in their addictions and can drastically turn their lives around.
Feel free to comment below your opinions on racial disparities in our criminal justice system!