By C J OAKES
The Issue: U. S. Drug Policy is clearly failing. Some states have already begun to turn away from Federal policy, legalizing Cannibas. Yet, the U.S. Justice Department continues to stand firm and the White House gives no indication of altering course. To one side, many call to end the Drug War; on the other are those who believe the country should stay the course.
Drug Policy in the United States’ Criminal Justice System
Drug Policy is a serious issue in American Criminal Justice. The Drug War as it has been fought for the last 40 years has proven to be a failure and the laws are not changing to serve the public good. Families are destroyed in this war. Lives are destroyed by this war. The economy suffers as a result of this war. In short, little real good appears to be coming of the Drug War. Or is there?
Because the issue is so divisive and so intertwined with virtually every element of our criminal justice system, not just here in America, but certainly throughout the world, this is an issue which demands a separate space on this site. We cannot understand the whole of the modern criminal justice system without considering the role drugs, drug crime, and drug policy/laws have thereupon.
Issues connected to the Drug War
Many criminal justice issues are either directly or indirectly related to the Drug War, but to fully understand these, we must understand drugs, drug abuse, and drug policy. It has been said that nothing exists within a vaacuum. Indeed. Thus, if we are to fully understand how to resolve many of the problems we have with our Criminal Justice system, we must understand the role of drugs.
For instance, racial disparities in the Criminal Justice system have been studied and debated for many years. Logic tells many that the racial disparities are discriminatory, yet proof is elusive. Some point to Drug Policy, such as the disparity between being caught with powder cocaine versus crack. When the laws were made respecting these two forms of the same substance, Afrcian Americans were statistically known to be more likely to possess crack whereas caucasions were more likely to be in possession of powder. Thus, at least in the 1980s when these laws were passed, the argument could be made that there was a certain degree of racism involved. Today, however, either race is just as likely to possess crack or powder, yet African Americans continue to face stiffer penalties. Clearly, race is somehow tied to the Drug War.
Property crime is tied to the Drug War in that many junkies will steal to support their habit. Likewise, prostitution is common among women addicted to substances. In addition, murders occur often as a result of drug related problems such as fights over money, drugs, or turn. Money laundering is certainly a facet of drug crime as is organized crime operations, street gangs, and even terrorism.
The Drug War…The Big Picture
Few today would make the connection with the rise of organized crime and drugs, but the reality is that drugs have provided the majority of the funds collected by organized criminal operations. Then as the profits escallate, these gain the power and influence to expand operations into many other illicit and harmful crimes. Some of these include toxic dumping, human/child trafficking (including the sex trade), gambling, racketeering, and many more.
Many today would like to see the Drug War end, but we must ask, would ending the Drug War now really solve the problems related to it or would ending it only serve to exacerbate the problems? Indeed, if the revenues dry up for those engaging in the drug trade, would they turn their attention to other, far more heinous crimes? And what about the politicians whose pockets are lined with money from these criminals in exchange for favor…would ending the Drug War end corruption or make it worse?
These are all questions we must consider as we begin to explore the Drug War in all its ugly glory. To this end, there will be posts from as many points of view possible included in this section of pages. The goal is to determine whether ending the Drug War is a good idea or not. If it is, then how do we proceed? If not, then how do we resolve some of these most pressing issues.
The fact is that there are no easy solutions. We have long since passed the point-of-know-return (sic) for solving this problem without serious fallout. So we must take a serious, sober, and somber look at the related issues.
On these pages, we consider the Drug Policy/Drug War issue from various angles. The goal is to determine the best direction for the nation to take.