The Drug War… a few statistics

People in Prison for Drugs
From the Sentencing Project

I’m currently working on a research paper regarding narcotics legalization/decriminalization. The numbers I find are staggering. I’ll post my paper after Fall semester is over in December but it isn’t hard to find the numbers. I have stated in a previous paper that the United States has the highest incarceration rate on the planet, due in no small part to the war on drugs.

Many consider the issue of drug abuse (not necessarily use, just abuse) a health concern, not a criminal one. One of the things I’m attempting to look at for this paper I’m working on is the rate of violent crimes as a result of the black market on drugs, not necessarily violent crime while on drugs. My theory, and many others’, is that the black market is what fuels a majority of drug related violence, like gang violence and turf wars. The issue of violence while on drugs (theft, domestic violence, assault, etc.) could be handled based solely on the crime that created a victim where the drug use could be treated different via a social or health setting. It would greatly decrease the amount of nonviolent drug users and abusers in prison and give a better chance to get help for addiction.

In addition to treating addiction as a health concern and not a criminal concern, removing the criminal laws against drug use, dealing, etc. would, in theory, get rid of the black market, which is extremely dangerous. That would also drastically reduce the incarceration rate in the United States.

It has been proven to work in the past as far as emptying prisons and cutting the incarceration rate in the Netherlands, who had to close prisons as a result of a lack in prisoners. Those budgets and employment opportunities could then be transferred to the health roles in dealing with drug abuse.

What are your thoughts?



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