By Angela Grant
PRISON REFORM BENEFITS EDUCATION REFORM | Part 1
Was the War on Drugs Successful?
The War on Drugs was a successful war! But *not* on drugs. The War on Drugs was successful at imprisoning young Back men, removing them from schools and making schoolwork more challenging and frustrating for those who were already stigmatized.
Furthermore, imprisoning children destroys families by trapping them in a vicious cycle of poverty, as well as organized corruption involving law enforcement and the Justice Department. But this was known and the intended purpose of the war on drugs, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
This created a cycle of ex-convicts and delinquent youths robbed of their “manhood” while imprisoned, combined with women of low self-esteem (another story), trapped in a world protected by environmental toxins that inevitably lead to premature death, imprisonment, drugs or unfulfilled dreams.
Society does not recognize its role. Every time a Black youth ventures outside his invisible fence of concentrated poverty, and gets harassed or murdered, it has a profound and pervasive impact. Perhaps this is why such news is not covered: only Black-on-Black crime is covered. Until just a short while ago, I had no idea of the magnitude of structural racism destroying families in communities of color.
Seen from the eyes of Black youths, the world is not a hospitable place. Black youths are viewed suspiciously and deemed criminals by society. Black youths and communities are very aware of these beliefs.
Imagine Black youths out to have fun yet can’t because White adults stare, show fear at their presence, stare past them, clutch their handbags, follow them in the store and even arrest when for purchasing legal items.
How would you feel if your children shared such experiences?
Black youths cannot go to a convenience store without being accosted, followed or watched by store staff. Some of this suspicion is justified, but most is not.
Solution for adults: show Black youths the same respect you show other youths – start with a genuine smile – and be prepared to be amazed at the results.
Many children from communities of color lack exposure, making communication difficult. Definitions and non-verbal cues have different meanings for them.
So was the War on Drugs successful?
The War on Drugs legalized racial profiling in the minds of police officers, law enforcement and the justice departments.
A brief review of articles noted in the US Citizens Database gleaned many established and new observations. Granted, these observations are anecdotal; therefore, these are areas for further investigation. Racial profiling targets Black persons, especially Black youths. Racial profiling equals police harassment, with the attendant police brutality and violence. Traffic stops are dangerous not for police officers but for black drivers.
The magnitude of the devastation caused by the War on Drugs on communities of color added exponentially to the psychological trauma of slavery, chronic discrimination and an inferiority complex.
Many communities of color live in a state of dysthymia (chronic low-grade depression) with many folks feeling helpless and hopeless about the future. Many search for meaning through religion, others through gangs, and still others through living in isolation. Remember at least one in three Black families have a loved one in prison. That is very disruptive and defeating.
The War on Drugs resulted in mandatory sentencing of poor non-violent drug offenders. For example, possession of five grams of crack – a cheaper form of cocaine – carried a five-year sentence, while cocaine carried a five-year sentence only if the equivalent of 5,000 grams of crack was in a person’s possession. Similarly, stiff sentences applied to marijuana, which is now legal in a few states and has approved medicinal uses.
The War on Drugs started in the Ronald Reagan era, and the privatization of prisons took off with the Justice Department collaborating with private prisons after Bill Clinton reduced the budget for law enforcement and the Justice Department.
Since then, explosive growth in prison populations suggested that private prisons successfully rounded up the criminals from the War of Drugs. However, that was not the case, and it was just a smokescreen of stereotypes. Closer inspection of data refuted that claim and instead demonstrated of disparities in justice system and law enforcement.
Private prisons and the Justice Department have a lucrative partnership, paid for by taxpayers, as they arrest targeted individuals despite known innocence. These innocent victims are subjected to repeated adult bullying by police officers, correctional officers, judges and prosecutors. They become the main pool or source of income for private prisons and judges to then force into hard labor to support the profits of private corporations
One wonders if police officers and correctional officers are selected for their brutality and, perhaps, their affiliation with so-called ‘White Supremacy’. Just saying!
NYC charges about $168,000 per year for each prisoner. This sum does not include benefits and other essentials. NYC does well, considering the accommodations at Rikers. States get more taxpayers’ dollars to warehouse prisoners than they get to help poor families. Think about it NYC gets $168,000 a year for each prisoner. Let that sink in while absorbing the landscape of America, the police state. No wonder prison reform is vehemently opposed.
Could the above serve as an incentive or driver behind the rise in incarceration rates and prison populations? The United States is 5% of the world’s population, yet it has 25% of the world’s prison population! That is 2.2 million prisoners.
If prisons are packed with low offenders, how is crime controlled?
Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful
Part I of II