Drug Enforcement And Punishment Approach

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This paper argues that the “War on Drugs” and the current enforcement and punishment approach is not working. The results of our policies are the mass incarceration of individuals, especially blacks and Latinos. Drug experts and historians identified two main eras of the war on drugs, the 1970s’ and 1980’s, two main turning points of U.S. policy in combating drugs. The first major shift in drug policy was started by the Nixon Administration. Nixon was sworn in as the 37th President of the United States on 20 January 1969 and by July of 1969 his administration submits legislation for a comprehensive reform of federal drug enforcement laws. The result was the passage of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. On June…show more content…
Nixon’s words quickly resulted in action. Budgets were cut from prevention and treatment programs while drug enforcement budgets increased rapidly. This policy shift to combat the drug epidemic set the stage for the modern “War on Drugs”. A new federal law enforcement agency was born in 1972, called the Office of Drug Abuse and Enforcement. This new government agency was filled with controversy from the beginning, because of its broad enforcement capabilities. Some accused the new Justice Department agency of terrorizing innocent individuals, abuse of power, and a lack of oversight and accountability. The agency was officially dismantled in 1973, but in reality, it just consolidated with other agencies and became the Drug Enforcement Administration. Nixon’s new enforcement policy would disproportionately target communities of color resulting in what would become the beginning of a policy of mass-incarceration of blacks, Latinos and America’s poor. Since the 70’s racial injustices have been stemming from the war on drugs and these injustices and racial inequalities have not only been overlooked by some previous presidential administrations but were at times even aggravated by…show more content…
Even though Nixon started the war on drugs and focused on law enforcement, his administration still allocated some money to treatment and prevention, whereas the Reagan administration focused only on law, order, and punishment. In Ronald Reagan’s radio address to the nation on October 2nd of 1982 he declares, that the battle flag is up, and the United States is going to win the “War on Drugs”. Drug enforcement had seen major increases to their budget, while money for treatment was almost non-existent. Since then, the war on drugs has only caused more racial tension between majority groups and minorities. One major cause of added tension is the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement which increased significantly in the 80’s, when “the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) developed profiling of drug couriers to intercept and reduce interstate drug trafficking” (Sirin 4). With few policy changes since the war on drugs began, the results are, in 2000 the U.S. surpassed Russia as the leader of having the most individuals incarcerated. Michigan, a relatively small state, in regard to population, has more individuals incarcerated than the country of France, and the numbers get worse in the larger states like California. From 1980 to 2000 the “number of individuals incarcerated increased 300%, with the majority being African Americans” (Sirin 7). The last few years have seen “some
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