She describes that the mass incarceration policies that were made are a “comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow”(Alexander2016). The War on Drugs escalated quickly in 1982 with the Reagan administration, claiming that they were responding to the crack cocaine epidemic that was going on around black neighborhoods and ghettos. The Reagan administration actually were contributing to the high rise of crack cocaine consumption in the US, mainly inner cities. Alexander points out that the Drug on War had escalated way before 1982, in the mid 1980’s the use of crack cocaine had escalated so quickly that they Federal Drug authorities had to publicize the issue and use scare tactics to try to get control over the
In the United States, the rate of incarceration has increased shockingly over the past few years. In 2008, it was said that one in 100 U.S. adults were behind bars, meaning more than 2.3 million people. Even more surprising than this high rate is the fact that African Americans have been disproportionately incarcerated, especially low-income and lowly educated blacks. This is racialized mass incarceration. There are a few reasons why racialized mass incarceration occurs and how it negatively affects poor black communities.
The War on Drugs is believed to help with many problems in today’s society such as realizing the rise of crime rates and the uprooting of violent offenders and drug kingpin. Michelle Alexander explains that the War on Drugs is a new way to control society much like how Jim Crow did after the Civil War. There are many misconceptions about the War on Drugs; commonly people believe that it’s helping society with getting rid of those who are dangerous to the general public. The War on Drugs is similar to Jim Crow by hiding the real intention behind Mass Incarceration of people of color. The War on Drugs is used to take away rights of those who get incarcerated. When they plead guilty, they will lose their right to vote and have to check application
"Race and Prison | Drug War Facts." Welcome | Drug War Facts. 2000-2008. Web. 05 Apr. 2010. .
The war on drugs was used as a defense mechanism to gain social control over people of color through mass incarceration, thereby reincarnating a racial caste system in our country. Alexander defines caste as a “stigmatized racial group locked into an inferior position by law and custom. Jim Crow and slavery were caste systems. So is our current system of mass incarceration (Alexander, 2012). “The most obvious parallel between mass incarceration and Jim Crow “is legalized discrimination” (Alexander, 2012, p. 17). However, the success of the election of the first African-American President, Barack Obama, causes Blacks to believe that racism has been defeated
Michelle Alexander wrote a book called "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." The original Jim Crow was a racial caste system that segregated whites from blacks, where whites were privileged and viewed as the chosen ones while blacks were taught to be minority and used as servants between 1877 and the 1960s. The Jim Crow system kept whites superior to blacks with laws created to keep whites favored. It was a legal way to prevent African Americans from getting an equal education, from voting; it was a system of "Separate but Equal". In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed to outlaw discrimination due to ones skin color. Although this act was passed we still continue to live in a society where discrimination is quite relevant but systemized. Through Michelle Alexander's book we can understand her argument that there is a new form of legal discrimination although laws state that discriminating an individual because of their race is illegal. Michelle explains that there is a current mass incarceration among black men in the United States. The use of, possession of, or selling drugs is illegal but it has been systematically created that laws make it impossible to. She claims that the criminal justice system uses the War on Drugs as a way to discriminate and repress the black man.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared, “America's public enemy number one in the United States [sic] is drug abuse.” Since then, the United States has spent over $1 trillion and lost hundreds of thousands of lives trying to combat drug abuse. The results show very little progress: from 1998 to 2008, use of opiates, cocaine and cannabis increased 34.5%, 27% and 8.5% respectively. Not only has use increased, but the drug trade has progressed as an industry--the price of popular illicit drugs decreased 80% from 1990 to 2007, but the purity of heroin, cocaine and cannabis samples have increased by 60%, 11% and 161% respectively. In addition, many of the policies put in place to deter drug use have proven to be racially unjust. In 1995, the US Sentencing Commission advised Congress that mandatory minimums on crack vs powder cocaine were racist. The penalty for selling crack was 100 times more severe than for the same amount of powder cocaine (because crack was cheaper and easier to get). 90% of crack convictions were of African American citizens, although the majority of cocaine users were white. However, Congress ignored the Commission (this was the first time they did so in its history). In 2011, the story was similar--African Americans constitute 13% of the population, and 13% of drug users, but 38% of drug arrests, and 59% of drug convictions. Our drug policies and their enforcers need to be part of a fair and just system that minimizes the societal damage drugs cause, instead of increasing it. The war on drugs is not efficient, effective, or impartial; evidence suggests a better solution would include decriminalizing most drugs, placing an emphasis on education and treatment, and legalizing and taxing marijuana.
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution provide United States citizens with two basic rights—that “no person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law” (Amendment V) and that “no state shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law” (Amendment XIV). However, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 created a clearly unequal weight on the sentencing of powder cocaine versus crack cocaine. The mandatory minimum sentence for someone with one gram of crack was the same as the mandatory minimum for someone with one hundred grams of powder cocaine. In the 1970s, cocaine soared in popularity and was praised as a recreational drug, a perception that persisted until the introduction of crack cocaine in 1985 (Edward, Jill, David, & David). Crack cocaine, a mix of baking soda, water, and powder cocaine, became the less expensive way to use cocaine; thus, the drug rose in popularity especially in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods. Thus, it became consequently popular with the working class and minorities, namely African Americans. Because of the popularity of crack in poorer neighborhoods in a society where socioeconomic status and race overlap often, arrest numbers for African Americans caught with crack sky rocketed. A special report of the US Sentencing Commission stated that “while there is no evidence of a racial bias behind…this federal sentencing law, nearly 90 percent of the offenders convicted in federal court for crack cocaine distribution are African American while the majority of crack cocaine users is white. Thus, the sentences appear to be harsher…for racial minorities…[which] results in a perception of unfairness” (USSC 1997). The special report also...
Racial disparity in drug related convictions has been a wide spread problem in the United States since the War on Drugs in the early 1980s. It was prevalent before that time, but minorities became the target of drug related crimes in startling numbers at this time. There are several hypotheses for this alarming situation, but the bottom line remains that racism is the leading cause of racial disparity in drug related convictions. Minorities from inner cities, with low-incomes and socioeconomic statuses who get caught in a downward spiral, are the easiest targets for the government to point the finger at for drug problems in the United States. The statistics will show that while more White people use illicit drugs in the United States, more African Americans and other minorities will be convicted, and more harshly than their White counterparts, for the same crimes.
The community within which I live is extremely affected by the drug policy of United States, specifically the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The people in my community are facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five to ten years without parole for the possession of five grams of crack cocaine while people who are sentenced for five hundred grams of powder cocaine. Later the one-hundred to one disparity was reduced to eighteen to one by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The act reduced the amount of crack cocaine possessed from five grams to one ounce (28 grams). These two acts are said to be forms of institutionalized racism because African Americans, especially males, face higher arrest and incarceration rates for the possession of drugs than Caucasian males. The reason that African Americans face a higher arrest rate is because of law enforcement primarily focusing on low-income, impoverished, urban areas where many African Americans live and where crack cocaine thrives. According to research, African Americans composed of more than eighty percent of the population that are imprisoned under the federal crack cocaine laws. The impact of these federal policies