America’s Longest War (Pt 3) – The Hypocrisy of Democracy
In part 2 of America’s Longest War, we took a look at the costs involved with a 45 year war against drugs. Now, what could possibly justify spending so much money on something while receiving no return on investment?
No country locks up more of its citizens, than the United States of America – land of the free.
Initially, when Nixon declared his war on drugs, his intentions were honourable – his intentions were focused on social and economic solutions to prevent substance abuse in gang-ridden communities where the poor turn to violence and drugs to make easy money during difficult times. Nixon wanted to break the cycle of crime and drug abuse among troubled and poverty-stricken youth.
The cycle, is perhaps the most important factor in the war against drugs – the poor find it very difficult to break out of communities where violence, gangs and drugs are not a way of life, but a way of survival. Generations of families all quit school early, start selling and using drugs only to end up in prison, or worse, be found dead.
While Nixon’s intentions were good at first, it did not take long, for the war on drugs to take on a different stance – that of severe and harsh punishment for anyone caught using, distributing or trafficking drugs.
Politicians started using the war on drugs as a ploy to gain the upper hand in elections and the more drug users they could incarcerate, the more public votes they would get. The focus abruptly shifted from educating citizens about drugs to locking up as many people as possible.
While families were being torn apart, politicians were using drug smugglers and users as pawns in their election campaigns. They were feeding off the weak and vulnerable to enrich themselves and their friends.
Nothing has made this clearer than the growing trend of privatising prisons in America. All over the country, private prisons are opening their doors, and business is booming. Some of these private prisons are so established that they trade on the stock market and they simply cannot wait for law enforcement to bring more non-violent, harmless, citizens to fill their beds.
In 2014, 50% of America’s federal prisoners were incarcerated for drug-related charges while only 7% of prisoners were doing time for violent crimes – that’s a lot of people serving jail time for what could be considered as “minor” crimes.
But, with presidents and private entities making so much money out of it, why would they try and curb the real issues of drug abuse?
Part 4 – coming soon.
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