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).
- 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?
- 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. http://www.realcostofprisons.org, 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. http://www.realcostofprisons.org, 2005.