EAP: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
The War Is Lost
In the early 1970s, President Nixon’s policies against America’s so-called “public enemy no. 1″ culminated
in what has been known ever since as the “War On Drugs”.
The consequences of Nixon’s war, and the policies implemented in its name during subsequent administrations, have had, and continue to have, devastating effects on the prison systems and socioeconomic landscapes in the U.S.
While the desired results of the War on Drugs are not clear, evidence shows that the actual results leave much to be desired.
Since Nixon’s War on Drugs, the number of incarcerations has skyrocketed in America. America’s rate of imprisonment greatly overshadows that of all other developed, democratic countries.
This is not due to a higher rate of crime as much as it is due to the stringent policies regarding arrest and extreme sentencing of nonviolent drug offenders.
These offenders make up about twenty-five percent of the approximately 2 million prisoners currently incarcerated in the U.S., thus sharing a significant portion of the billions of dollars spent on the prison system each year.
Incarceration damages a person beyond what is just punishment of his crime. An individual never fully recovers from the effects of incarceration. After release, he cannot vote, cannot travel abroad, and has a very difficult time finding a job.
He may leave prison clean and sober, but he returns to the world without being rehabilitated. Because of the desperate situation he finds himself in, using and/or selling drugs becomes his most manageable option.
Failures of the War on Drugs have kept prison populations beyond full, and supported repeat offenses, in turn causing high rates of inmate recidivism.
Supply & Demand
Much of the illegal drug supply that is purchased in the U.S. is not grown, processed or manufactured
domestically. In order to move drugs to U.S. consumers, drug manufacturers must smuggle their products into the country illegally.
These supply-side criminal businesses are competitive, wealthy, heavily armed and willing to commit terrible acts of violence to increase their supply to meet market demands–including going to war with other criminal trafficking organizations, or even the government agencies in their native countries.
In Mexico for example, the death toll related to illegal drug smuggling and operations since December 2006 is estimated to be over 35,000 . Many more deaths are suspected to go unreported.
Citizens of entire cities live in fear as drug cartels kill anyone keeping their product from their market. Their goals rely greatly on the demand for illegal drugs in the United States.
Rehabilitation and the End of Prohibition
Programs for rehabilitation offer better alternatives to the failings of the current drug enforcement policies. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has labeled addiction a complex illness. As such, the addict must be treated rather than imprisoned.
Drugs should be classified as agents of illness rather than of crime. By treating the illness, the market for drugs can be reduced.
Reduction of black market business and distribution is key, and along with rehabilitation programs will disenfranchise suppliers, reduce casualties of war, and lower prison populations and spending.
It’s time to admit that the War is lost. The adversarial approach of incarceration isn’t working. Rehabilitation and decriminalization is the answer.