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Of the many conflicts in which the United States has been involved over the years, the war on substance addiction and trafficking is, to the best of most people's knowledge, the most intensive, with enormous negative consequences for the lives of Americans. Initially, the war on drugs was conceived as a means of shielding Americans from the risks involved with deadly drugs. However, the continued criminalization of non-life-threatening and dangerous creational drugs has increased jail rates and destroyed the lives of peaceful and frequent consumers. The war on drug initiatives has deviated from the original objects, and now presents more negative effects than positive ones. This paper will address how the war on drugs in America has had more negative than positive impacts, and thus how it should be replaced with the treatment of drug victims than incarceration.
Astonishingly, the US government has, over the years, spent an estimated $1 trillion on “War on Drugs” program and initiatives. However, disappointingly, despite the intensive investment of the fight against drugs, statistics from US Justice Department confirmed that drug usage in the country has been consistent in the last ten years. Annually, only $7 billion of the $350 billion spent on the drug war is invested in prevention programs (Mejía and Pascual 258). Rather than looking for the cure and prevent drug use and abuse, most energy and resources are wasted in the fight against drug-related crimes. Despite the high cost of the fight against drugs in the country, the method is ineffective at eliminating and reducing usage and trade on the same. Instead of wasting American’s taxes on a fruitless war, it is high time that those in charge brainstormed to come up with a lasting solution.
Of course, not every person agrees with the fact that war on drugs has had more negative than positive impacts. For them, they hold to their position on the fact that when the war was started, countless drug users drug lords and pushers have come out in large numbers and surrendered to various police headquarters. The fierce and aggressive war launched by the police has left many of the drug users and sellers fearing for their lives, and would thus surrender in goodwill rather than tasting the bullet. An impressive number of secretive drug banks and stores have now been turned into the state’s arms which in the process information of their clients. Were it not for the war against drugs, as some people claim, none of the progress in apprehending and sieging the drug centers would have been achieved. Furthermore, as they claim, the war surrounds the state’s constitutional provision of search and seizure restriction, hence a commendable job, they suppose (Day 22).
All of the above arguments in support of the war on drugs are true. However, there is a bigger picture, a negative one for that matter, that those who support it turn a blind eye on. Arresting drug users and traffickers is not bad, but, what follows after the arrests and imprisonment? The answer to this question is obvious; nothing is done but just overcrowding the prisons with people who were not meant to land there, but instead in rehabilitation and treatment centers. The drug prisoners have had their lives broken by the cancer of the society, drugs, thus confining them in prison walls does no better than increased their misery. For instance, drug use among the teenagers has been on the high rise over the years. Mostly, some factors are to blame for this trend including peer pressure, social media, and negligence by parents. The queries that linger in the minds of many people is just how it benefits the government to throw a teenager, who was full of life and dreams, in prison for a couple of years, and potentially ruining the better part of their lives forever.
Statistically, by Sentencing Project, more than 2.2 Americans are in jail for drug-related arrests. This data, thus, is a 500 percent increase dating back to the last 30 years (Williams). The more the inmates, the more the expense burden on the part of the government regarding managing the overcrowded prisons and funding an exploding penal system. Countless times, evidence has been presented to prove that incarceration is not and will ever be the most effective method of achieving the safety of the public. The fact that arrests on drug cases are increasing should be a wakeup call for the government officials in charge of the drug war to sit down and re-strategize on how to manage the issue efficiently and save Americans from this drug upheaval (Rolles 247). The simple truth is that mass incarceration resulting from petty drug abuse is not the outcome that the government and the society at large are looking forward to.
It is evidently now clear to all Americans than smoking, abusing or peddling an illegal drug, be it coca, opium, psychedelics or even marijuana, attracts a longer jail term than manslaughter, rape or even child molesting. The government cannot win the war on drugs alone but needs to involve the community which in the one directly affected by the drug impacts to make more impact (Farthing 321). However, it is hard for the community to partake in any activity that involves some level of violence, which is what the war on drugs in generally all about. The use of community is much of a form of treatment and rehabilitation for drug addicts. Encouragement of grassroots and Community Action programs would rather be the best way to go about the demands on the drug war. Dishearteningly, very little is invested in empowering these programs, hence their failure to participate fully. With this insight, the federal government needs to shift its spending in the criminalization of drug abuser to their treatment and rehabilitation process ("Rethinking the War on Drugs."). Furthermore, locking them up in prison does not imply that they will not continue to the same once they are free again.
Irrefutably, it is now crystal clear that the federal government cannot win the war on drugs. The drugs are currently not the problem, but rather the moralist policies on drugs. Addiction to drugs is much of a moral issue that cannot be rectified by punishment through imprisonment, but rather through help in the form of treatment and rehabilitation to end it. The more, the more government forges ahead with the fight, the more the arrests, and flooding of inmates in prison resulting in increased expenses. To top up the negative impacts of the war, imprisonment does not offer any practical and useful help needed but instead makes the lives of drug abusers and trackers more miserable.
"Rethinking the War on Drugs." Human Rights Watch, 2017, https://www.hrw.org/blog-feed/rethinking-war-drugs.
Day, Teresa. "Civil Forfeiture and the Constitution: Are Individual Rights Really Less Important than the War on Drugs?" Fairmount Folio: Journal of History 2 (2016).
Farthing, Linda. "The Time to Finally Stop the" War on Drugs" Is Now." NACLA Report on the Americas 48.4 (2016): 320.
House, White. "Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2014)." Answers to frequently asked questions about marijuana (2016).
Mejía, Daniel, and Pascual Restrepo. "The economics of the war on illegal drug production and trafficking." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 126 (2016): 255-275.
Rolles, Steve. "From Drug War to Policy Reform: Implications of US Drug Strategy for Latin America." Drug Policies and Politics of Drugs in the Americas. Springer International Publishing, 2016. 245-261.
Williams, Michael. "War On Drugs Is War On People." CNN, 2016, http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/22/opinions/war-on-drugs-Michael-k-williams/index.html.
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