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The Failure of the War on Drugs Essay

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The War on Drugs in the United States has a profound influence on both the incarceration rates and activities of the criminal justice system. Many politicians and advocates of the policy claim that the War on Drugs is a necessary element to deter criminal behavior and reduce the crime rate. However, studies show that drug deterrent policies on possession and use have been inadequate and unsuccessful (Cole & Gertz, 2013). Studies also show that the War on Drugs has not attained its objectives because the policy exhibits racial discrepancy as it has led to the disproportionate incarceration of Blacks and minorities. Specifically, evidence indicates that the upper class, generally White individuals, is more likely to use powered cocaine while the lower class, generally Blacks and minorities, is more likely to use crack cocaine, but discrepancy exists between the sentencing and punishment for the two forms of cocaine (Cole & Gertz, 2013). Before the Obama Administration passed the Fair Sentencing Act in August of 2012, which reduced the sentencing discrepancy between powered cocaine and crack cocaine to 18 to one, the original sentencing disparity was 100 to one (Davis, 2011). Although recent policies have reduced the population of drug offenders in prison, the War on Drugs has affected the substantial and disproportional increase in incarceration rates and prison populations of Blacks and minorities for drug offenses.
The United States has not always criminalized the possession and use of cocaine. Cocaine became a favored stimulant in the 1800s and popular consumption items such as Coca-Cola used cocaine legally up until the 1990s (Davis, 2011). Moreover, the use of cocaine in consumption products illustrates that the 19th century ...


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..., M. (2013). The criminal justice system: Politics and policies. (10 ed.).
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Davis, L. (2011). Rock, Powder, Sentencing--Making Disparate Impact Evidence Relevant in Crack Cocaine Sentencing. Journal Of Gender, Race & Justice, 14(2), 375-404.
Faupel, C., Horowitz, A., and Weaver, G. The sociology of American drug use. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
Kakade, M., Duarte, C. S., Liu, X., Fuller, C. J., Drucker, E., Hoven, C. W., & ... Wu, P. (2012). Adolescent Substance Use and Other Illegal Behaviors and Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice System Involvement: Findings From a US National Survey. American Journal Of Public Health, 102(7), 1307-1310.
Moore, L. D., & Elkavich, A. (2008). Who's Using and Who's Doing Time: Incarceration, the War on Drugs, and Public Health. American Journal Of Public Health, 98(5), 782-786.



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