President Richard Nixon issued the War on Drugs in 1971 to help decrease the amount of drug related crimes in America. Not only did he target the drug users with this reform but he put more resources into the dealers or supplying side of the drugs. Two years later, in 1973 the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) was created in efforts to put pressure on Mexico to regulate marijuana farmers. Putting so many American resources into trying to stop the supply of drugs resulted in a losing battle. Contrary to Nixon’s ideas, President Ronald Reagan decided in 1981 that it was more effective if our resources were used by targeting the drug users. His thought process behind this was if you take away the demand of drugs then there will be no need for a supply. His “getting tough” initiative was so brutal it is now referred to as the “zero tolerance initiative”. The 1986 Anti- Drug Abuse Act caused the drug users to be prosecuted to fullest extent. This type of reform focused more on retribution rather than rehabilitation. Meaning the government officials were more in tune to punishing individuals rather than helping them with their addictions. This in turn cause many issues in our criminal justice system.
Since the War on Drugs has begun, our prison system has been in disarray. After this type of retribution surfaced in our country, our prison systems have faced uncontrollable problems. While there is an endless list, some of the issues include; racial disparities, prison overcrowding, rotating prison door issue, mandatory minimum sentencing, conviction rights over 90%, and sentencing discrepancies between the wealthy and poor. As my blog continues I will make sure to discuss each of these issues in further detail!
In my opinion, the War on Drugs needs to be drastically reassessed by our government. Our overuse of resources has resulted in our country spending over 45 billion dollars a year funding the War on Drugs. Over 60% of inmates in our prisons are in there for drug related crimes. The United States holds the record for the highest number of incarcerated citizens. AND our drug crimes are around the same number they were when we started the War on Drugs in the 70s!
Instead of focusing all our time, energy, and resources on punishing our inmates, let’s rehabilitate them! Implementing more prison treatment programs will slowly help solve all of the issues this horrid reform brought upon our criminal justice system. Acknowledging drug use as a disease will help give inmates a support system that addicts desperately need.
Please feel free to commit below your thoughts on the War on Drugs!