War On Drugs Public Policy Failure

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Aaleyah Patterson Tom Scales U.S. Public Policy & Democracy 10 March 2016 The “War On Drugs” Is A Public Policy Failure Here we are, four decades after Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs in 1971 and $1 trillion spent since then. What do we have to show for it? Externalities that were unforeseen. It has led to mass incarceration in the U.S., corruption, political destabilization and violence in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. It negatively affected the lives of millions of people all of this while America wastes billions of dollars every year only to create and fuel powerful drug cartels while the goal of the war on drugs seems less achievable than ever. Let us dive into the facts. According to the article “U.S. Prison Population Dwarfs…show more content…
One could see how supply side enforcement, prohibition of drugs, and mass incarceration have halted the reform of the criminal justice system. These externalities spill over into other public policy issues as well. Supply side enforcement spills into economic policy because billions of dollars are spent fighting a losing war, contributing to a larger deficit the U.S. ultimately has to deal with. The prohibition of drugs spills into health care policy. Nationally, 1 in 10 people addicted to drugs or alcohol do not receive treatment, according to a report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. While Obamacare does include substance abuse as part of the ten essential health benefits, not every plan covers this service to the same extent and plans can offer different cost sharing on each. In the long run, ultimately leaving drug abuse up to the war on drugs not only criminalizes drug users but it does not support rehabilitation: especially inside the prisons themselves. In addition, drug prohibition has caused more violence in countries all over the world. Mexico, as stated above, has directly been impacted. With the war on drugs opening new horizons for drug cartels, the illegal immigration crisis becomes a byproduct of the drug war. Lastly, mass incarceration is spillover from the war on drugs that we can see right in our own backyards. In a speech to the NAACP in July of 2015, President Obama insisted that “the real reason our prison population is so high” is that “over the last few decades, we’ve also locked up more and more nonviolent drug offenders than ever before, for longer than ever before.” The War on Drugs has disproportionately harmed minorities, which creates a class of people that are unable to participate in the democratic republic: only causing more crime and making a full circle. Therefore, with all these externalities combined, if most resources are going toward fixing these problems, there are none left to allocate toward
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