Monday, July 15, 2013

"Professor Calls War on Drugs an 'Abomination'"

The War on Drugs has been waged in a wildly discriminatory manner.  The decision to wage the war on drugs in urban and poor communities from its inception was a conscious decision made by lawmakers and politicians from the very early days of the so called "war."  Incarceration rates of African American and Latino citizens are massively out of proportion to their population rates, despite overwhelming evidence that Americans use drugs in very similar percentages across all races.  Two explanations for this disproportion in connection with drug arrests are first, that it is much easier to incarcerate citizens from poor and powerless communities, making it true that urban and poor communities are hyper-policed, while frat houses, suburban communities, and wealthy neighborhoods, where drug use is just as prevalent, are rarely policed; and second, that politicians and lawmakers deliberately waged the War on Drugs in urban and poor communities to re-subordinate minority citizens, in light of their gains from the Civil Rights movement, particularly passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act (recall that President Nixon declared the War on Drugs in the early 1970s, and President Reagan federalized the war in the early 1980s, just a few years after real political and social gains were made by minority citizens).

cummings speaks to the Unitarian Universalist congregation
One of the primary reasons it has been so difficult to end the failed War on Drugs, is that corporate interests and profit increase are now deeply entangled and entrenched in the United States prison industry.  The advent of the private prison corporation in the late 1970s with the introduction of the Corrections Corporation of America in Tennessee, now ensures that dozens of millions of dollars are spent annually by private prison executives to lobby aggressively for increases in private prison facilities, increases in crimes that lead to jail time, increases in length of sentences, and increasing incarceration rates of American citizens and illegal residents.

Corporate interests are now energized by the profit potential of increasing incarceration in the United States.  Perverse incentives are innumerable now for the private prison executive.  Immoral motives, attendant stereotypes and damaging public perceptions have grown out resulting in outcomes such as the "Kids for Cash" scandal in Pennsylvania (where sitting state judges received bribes and kickbacks for every juvenile that they sentenced to jail time in a private juvenile detention center); the horrible Trayvon Martin murder and acquittal (where an innocent, random African American boy was profiled as a "punk," and "suspicous" likely drug dealer by a neighborhood watch volunteer who followed, shot and killed the youth); the SB-1070 "show your papers" law in Arizona (that was drafted by the private prison lobby and handed over to willing legislatures who introduced the law verbatim).  Terrible outcomes motivated by immoral and perverse incentives are the cognizable result of the private prison industry.

1 comment:

  1. It was not until the middle class kids began to get arrested in large numbers that the laws began to be challenged.

    And, it was only after the anti-terror legislation was introduced and in place has anyone ever dared to oppose the war on drugs.

    The anti-terror legislation has all the same identical keys in place as the drug war has and much more.