The War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration
It is well-settled that the United States has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Incredibly, countries like India and China, who have populations at least 4x greater than ours, have a lower number of total prisoners. To put this statistic in perspective, the United States contains 5% of the world’s total population, yet it has 25% of the world’s prisoners.
The question is, what do these statistics have to do with drugs? Well, the answer is that nearly ¼ of our prison population is in jail or prison for drug violations. Incarceration has become a big business in this country, and with the privatization of prisons, lobbyists who represent the organizations the own these prisons are constantly lobbying law makers to draft stricter laws with harsher punishments – all in the name of increasing these private prisons’ profitability.
In the end, the War on Drugs has completely failed in its attempt to stop people from using drugs, but it has resulted in decimating minority communities where men over 18 are being locked away like animals at epidemic levels.
The War on Drugs’ Effect on Minorities
Unsurprisingly, many people believe drug use is more common in minority communities, and that is why minorities are locked up more often than their Caucasian counterparts for drug violations. This is an uninformed and unsubstantiated stereotype which could not be any further from the truth.
The truth is that while white people are often let off with a warning or slap on the wrist, blacks and Latinos are slammed with draconian sentences for mere possession. Additionally, laws are written in a manner which were purposely aimed at ensuring that drugs used by minorities are subject to harsher sentences than drugs used by white people. One well known example are the laws which created a wide sentencing disparity for possession of cocaine and possession of crack. Crack cocaine sentences are much harsher than powder cocaine sentences and, as many people know, crack is much more popular in minority communities than powder cocaine.
Why the United States is Far Behind the Rest of the Civilized World
Despite the United States’ reputation as a world leader, it has fallen behind in its approaches to drug addiction. The United States has held fast to its draconian drug laws while most other civilized countries have adopted a much more liberal approach with an emphasis on treatment as a medical issue, not a criminal issue. By way of example, Portugal has decriminalized all drugs. The result has been fewer fatalities from overdoses. Switzerland, through the use of methadone clinics and needle exchanges, has not only reduced the country’s crime rate and overdose-related deaths, but has also slashed their rates of HIV infection. Most people think of the Netherlands when they think of liberalized approaches to drug reform, and they were indeed one of the first countries to adopt the approach of treating drug addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. But at the end of the day, while many countries around the world have adopted some permutation of the Netherlands’ approach, the United States inexplicably holds tight to its draconian, asinine, and failed drug policies. It is time for a drastic change which, unfortunately, does not appear to be anywhere in sight.
Defending Drug Crimes in Fairfax
We all know that our government has, and continues, to take the worst possible approach in dealing with the problem of drug use, and they have refused to relent or adjust in their failed approach. Drug laws require reform and this reform should not be impeded by lobbyists for private prisons.
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a drug crime, or even with possession of marijuana, contact the Law Offices of Randall Sousa today for a free consultation with a Fairfax criminal defense attorney. Defending drug crimes requires that the attorney be fully up-to-date on the Commonwealth’s drug laws, the available treatment programs, and the developments in constitutional and Fourth Amendment issues such as search and seizure issues. Randall’s comprehensive knowledge of these issues is what makes him one of the very best and most aggressive drug defense lawyers in Northern Virginia. Call today 571-354-6164