The “War on Drugs” is a One Trillion Dollar failure, just for starters. The political rhetoric in DC calls it a “program”, but it’s really a war..but on whom? On our own people, that’s whom, and we ain’t talking ’bout white folks for the most part.
Let me start by saying, there is a new documentary out called “The House I Live In“, which addresses the failed War on Drugs and the racial politics involved in this gigantic disaster of a program. It also took First Place at the Sundance Festival last weekend, which is no small feat in itself. From a DemocracyNow piece on the film and the issue which exposes the moral and economic failure of this racist program, available on Youtube:
This past weekend the top documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival went to “The House I Live In,” which questions why the United States has spent more than $1 trillion on drug arrests in the past 40 years, and yet drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever. The film examines the economic, as well as the moral and practical, failures of the so-called “war on drugs,” and calls on the United States to approach drug abuse not as a “war,” but as a matter of public health. We need “a very changed dialogue in this country that understands drugs as a public health concern and not a criminal justice concern,” says the film’s Director Eugene Jarecki. “That means the system has to say, ‘We were wrong.’” We also speak with Nannie Jeter, who helped raise Jarecki as her own son succumbed to drug addiction and is highlighted in the film. We air clips from the film, featuring Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow;” Canadian physician and bestselling author, Gabor Maté; and David Simon, creator of “The Wire.”
Look at the numbers of mass incarceration of people since Reagan ramped up this crapfest against minorities:
In the past 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and destroyed impoverished communities at home and abroad.
From the Sundance Channel writeup on this film:
The main focus of Jarecki’s film, however, is the iniquities of the legal system in the war on drugs. Thirteen percent of America is black, and thirteen percent of crack users are black, so the vast majority of crack users in America are not black, and yet they represent ninety percent of those handled in the federal system for crack charges. And regardless of intent, defendants with prior drug felonies are often subject to harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, leading to a vicious cycle of incarceration—especially for those in the crack game.
“Crack and powder are the same, but in the 1980s when crack appeared on the scene, woefully divorced from science, claims were made by politicians to make crack activity be punished one hundred times worse than powder,” Jarecki told Sundance Channel. “Whether it was racist in intent or not, it became de facto racist when congress was aware of how disproportionately these laws were putting African-Americans away in jail when other people using the same substance under different conditions were not.”
No matter how any politician paints it, there are more white people using, being arrested and jailed than people of color when it comes to drugs. That is a fact. It’s not conjecture..its a fucking fact, and it’s a fact that the GOP and anyone that wants to tout this screwed up waste of a trillion bucks and the destruction of millions of lives totally ignores.
So why are there more people of color in jail for drugs than whites? Is it the “R” word? I see no other reason to validate this gross inconsistency when speaking to the amount of people of color jailed in this stupid war against our own citizens.
Interestingly enough, Michelle Alexander, author of ”The New Jim Crow‘ was on Up w/Chris Saturday morning talking about this very issue, which the show took the whole issue into the broader context of the disparity of people of color in jail vs the white population in general on all charges, not just the drug war. She isn’t afraid to use the “R” word when it comes to the disparity of white vs black arrests in this fucked up War. She is a Professor, lawyer and an activist. She received the Soros Justice Fellowship in 2005. Her credentials are impeccable. Back to the subject at hand…
Cornel West wrote the forward for Alexander’s book. A short blurb of it below from the website for the book:
Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.
The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.
Once these individuals finally get out of prison their lives are forever changed, regardless of the severity of the crime. The documentary explores the same issue but specifically the War on Drugs…and how it destroys entire communities and the lives of everyone involved with the incarcerated individual.
Drug use is a health issue, not a criminal issue. The selling of drugs can be argued in a different way of course, but it also depends on the drug in question, the amount they were caught selling, etc and how white people, who do the very same thing, do not receive sentences that are equal to those of Black and Hispanic people.
But the War on Drugs feeds the Prison Industrial Complex..and for DC and it’s lobbying groups, that is a good thing. Its also one of the reasons it will never end. The Prison Industrial Complex, with the help of local, state and federal law enforcement, decimates entire inner-city neighborhoods, all non-white of course.
So why declare a War on Drugs when drug use was actually on the decline at the time, which is exactly what Reagan did? It was part and parcel of Reagan’s ‘get tough’ policy that he promised during his run for the Presidency. Get tough on whom, why the inner-city youth of course. Reagan made it racial in no uncertain terms. Yes, there was an uptick in crime rates in general at the time, but not drug use. It was also the beginning of a recession and recessions always hit the poor first and hardest.
Michelle Alexander’s book deals with the issue of the Prison Industrial Complex, and the racial politics involved, on all levels and she spent years studying these issues. Her interview on Up w/Chris was added to this post only because I watch the show every weekend and couldn’t believe my luck that she was on the show Saturday morning. Below is the first part of her interview.
The second part of the interview:
The Ella Baker Center mentioned in the interview, tries to deal with the carnage left behind in the inner-cities from this racial war, started in one of the hardest hit areas..Oakland, but has since gone statewide here in Cali. It’s the only bright spot in this ugly American war on it’s own people. From their wiki:
The organization calls for an end to recent decades of disinvestment in cities, excessive and sometimes racist policing, and over-incarceration in order to stop violence and hopelessness in poor urban communities and communities of color. Instead of communities with more prisons and more police, the Ella Baker Center calls for better schools, cleaner environment, and more opportunities for young people and working people.
Unless and until we have more Ella Baker Centers nationwide, that educate instead of incarcerate, this War on people of color, disguised as a War on Drugs, will never end.
The National and Global War on Drugs is a disgusting failure on so many levels. Ron Paul admits it. A global, international commission made up of high-profile international leaders and business leaders admits it.
But the Obama administration pushed back (alert: its a link to a Faux noise article) against the report released by the global commission. They whined and bitched about the report. They dismissed it as bullshit.
Thanks Obama. I continue to lose faith in you every time you pull fuckery like this. You of all people, should know about the real price of this country’s War on Drugs. Not because of your color asshole, but because of your background as a community organizer.
It just shows me that once again..you are first and foremost..a worthless politician that serves corporate interests before that of the people.