Declaration of the Unjustifiable war

As I first faced the term “war on drugs,” I came up with two main ideas. First, I thought it would be a reasonable and rational policy that can keep people from taking drugs and make society more stable. However, on the other hand, I was concerned that it may include some serious side effects like the war on terrorism did. After reading the comic strips, the latter concern was right. This has a lot of side effects, and it caused so many problems. It would be easier to explain by comparing it to the war on terrorism policy. As the war on terrorism policy invaded other countries and exerted illogical power over innocent countries to access oil resources under the name of spreading democracy and freedom, the war on drugs also exerted irrational power over innocent people to imprison them under the name of the eradication of crime (Thomas, 23).

On the surface, the policy of the war on drugs seems plausible, fighting against the usage of drugs. However, there are numerous side effects that trigger unequal and unjustifiable consequences to innocent people who didn’t do any drugs or people who have low levels of drug crimes. At first, it seems ridiculous to criticize the policy by stating people who did drugs are victims just because their doses of drugs are small. Even though they took small amounts of drugs, they are still responsible for the illegal dose. However, the thing is that the punishment for those people is not equally enforced. The biggest inequality taking place within this policy is race discrimination. African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be accused than others. According to the comic strip, even though the white guy took more drugs and was convicted of higher levels of drug crimes, the black guy is the one who gets into a trouble. For example, the white guy is sent to public classes and counseling and then his charges are dropped, while the black guy gets a felony conviction and incarcerated in prison (Jones, 11). Black children are nine times more likely to have a parent in prison than white children, and this leads to family disruption (Jonathan, 24).

Moreover, there is reckless and unlimited competition for building prisons. It’s been a new growth industry in rural areas. Therefore, this results in a problematic situation that there are more prisons than Walmarts in the U.S. More and more rural areas are competing to build prison for the rewards from state authorities which can bring economic prosperity to the town (Pyle, 5). Nevertheless, this phenomenon brought some side effects as well. In my personal opinion, it is problematic because policy makers are just thinking about the short term consequences increasing prisons and imprisoning more drug criminals. However, this is just a short sighted policy. What’s needed is to look more into a fundamental solution that can reduce further problems such as unemployment, loss of the right to vote and education. Rather than investing in a prison industry, one should invest more on drug treatment, rehabilitation of criminals such as job training, and prevention programs. Policy makers should focus more on welfare of prisoners after their release. They need to develop rehabilitation programs to reduce addiction and prevent prisoners from taking drugs again. Without this, the vicious cycle is going to be continued forever by isolating criminals from the society and leading them to access to drugs again.

Theses days, there is a far reaching changes on war on drugs. The referenda on marijuana in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington been legalized on November 6. For the first time, voters in the country that is the world’s largest consumer of illicit drugs in general, and marijuana in particular, approved propositions legalizing possession, production, and distribution of cannabis. This current legalization has ended the hemisphere’s failed war on drugs policy (Jorge, 1).


Discussion questions

  1. Is there any feasible way that can eradicate proliferation of drugs but still can punish drug users and dealers in a reasonable way not harming an innocent people at all?
  2. What can be other alternatives to investing prison industry? What can be the best prevention program?



Carothers, Thomas. “US Democracy Promotion During and After Bush,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2007.

Caulkins, Jonathan P., Peter Reuter, Martin Y. Iguchi, James Chiesa. How Goes the “war On Drugs”? : an Assessment of U.s. Drug Programs and Policy. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corp., 2005.

Jones, Sabrina, Ellen Miller-Mack, and Lois Ahrens. Prisoners of the War on Drugs

Northampton, MA: The Real Cost of Prisons Project., 2005.

Jorge G. Castaneda, “Three strikes on war on drugs.” Korea Times Jan 2013: Print.

Pyle, Kevin and Craig Gilmore. Prison Town: Paying the Price. Northampton, MA: The Real

Cost of Prisons Project., 2005.


This entry was posted in Reading Responses. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Declaration of the Unjustifiable war

  1. jpnchudo says:

    The number of prisons was radically increased in many places in the U.S in 1990’s and had a negative influence on a great number of cities. According to the statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, it is estimated that more than half of the prisoners in the U.S are jailed for offense against drug. It is no wonder that the usage of drug is not a good thing and should be prohibited. However, the problem is that this is creating a badly heavy burden on the U.S economy. It costs the government too much money to feed prisoners and give them the places where they can sleep. In order to pay for it, government is being forced to decrease the amount of money which is supposed to be dedicated to education, medicine and something like that. There remained two ways to this; one is to keep strict about drug offense and the other is to stop being strict about it and spend less money in something related to drug offense. It’s difficult to decide which is better because both ways has positive and negative aspects, but I would say spend more money in education than drug offense. This is because education would be capable of letting children know the abuse of drug is bad so that they will not start using drugs.

  2. Gabrielle says:

    You bring up a really good analog of war on drugs, which is war on terrorism, to conclude that this kinds of war may end up having a terrible side effect that may offset the initial goal of the war. However, the similarity is not the side effect, the similarity is propose of the wars from my point of view after I read your article. Same as the under the name of justice and freedom to seek the access of oil resource of other countries, under the disguise of war on drug, it is the competition between state of making building prisons. This good example also bring up the thought to us that what is the true driven force beneath the war on the drug, justice or injustice.
    In the middle of the article, a little distraction about ethnic problem of dealing with drug overdose issue, which is relevant to the problem you pointed out, however may be better be separated and be focused otherwise. It is truly a side effect, but may appear in other events, not exclusively in the drug war, and can be very tricky and can be traceable back to very fundamental reasons, such as race cultural background and social prejudice, etc.

  3. Lydia says:

    In the class group discussion, my group was very surprised. We were curious about how many prisons in America, so we searched ‘prison’ by Google maps, and we found there are a lot of prisons in America. There were prisons all over the United States, several times much comparing to Canada and Mexico which have almost one prison in one or two states.
    I think the social situations make the prisoners to return to the prisons again. As you said in your reading response, racism can be one of the reasons. Moreover, people who just went out from prison are hard to re-adapt in the society. I think the government should do some proper programs to educate prisoners, and the vicious circulation would not happen again.
    I think there are no ways to get rid of the usage of the drugs at all. However, to eradicate the proliferation of drugs, I think the most basic and important thing is to change people’s mind; focusing on mostly ‘before’ than ‘after’. For example, there are extreme pictures of the diseases caused by smoking on the cigarette boxes in some countries. I think the addiction of the drug is same or more than that of smoking, not less. So I think people should know the danger and side effects of the drugs as it is.

  4. tayjern says:

    Drugs have always been an issue in this country and it is an issue that no matter how many laws the government makes, there will always be an illegal market for drugs. It is an issue that is bound to happen and although the government may not completely abolish the problem, they can make efforts to control it as much as possible. One of the smartest ideas that I have heard is when the government uses the criminals to catch other criminals who do the same act of crime. For Example they could use someone who got caught for embezzling money or some other white-collar crime to catch other white-collar criminals. They could use people they have arrested for drugs to find drug dealers because they know the system better then anyone else. It could be used almost as an incentive to get out. If they catch say 3 other criminals then they may be let out on probation or something like that. If these criminals are going to sit in a prison somewhere why not use them to help make law enforcement’s job easier. This would be an effective way of using criminals. Although each prisoner may be very expensive, at least the system will be benefiting somewhat from each prisoner.

Comments are closed.