The War on Drugs Essay

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Despite an estimated $1 trillion spent by the United States on the “War on Drugs”, statistics from the US Department of Justice (2010) has confirmed that the usage of drugs has not changed over the past 10 years. Approximately $350 billion is spent per year on the “war on drugs”, only $7 billion is spent on prevention programs by the federal government. The war on drugs is more heavily focused on how to fight crime, instead of how to prevent it. Crime prevention methods may not be immediate, but it is the most efficient and effective long-term. Not only is the war on drugs costly, it is also ineffective at reducing or eliminating trade and usage. The “War on Drugs” campaign has been unsuccessful in preventing the illegal drug trade. As a result, the campaign has managed to marginalize and impoverish the participating societies, causing social and economic harm. By pointing out the failures of this campaign this paper will explain how alternatives can lead to a more successful outcome.

Conventional “War on Drug” policies are hurting communities. With more severe penalties to drug users, more incarceration rates in the United States are occurring. Statistics have shown that the United States houses 25% of the world’s prisoners where 1 in 3 are involved in drug trade (International Centre for Science in Drug Policy). In the United States, the policies of drug prohibition were meant to implement an idea of becoming “tougher on crime” to decrease usage. Unfortunately, the high rate of incarceration has shown that the objective of the war on drugs campaign has been unsuccessful. The government suggests that by removing and punishing the drug users in communities, that the drug trafficking would also be eliminated. With the drug use staying relatively the same, the legitimacy of this campaign is questionable. Ironically, the majority of problems surrounding the war on drugs are often caused when the campaign itself is put into action.

There is a strong correlation that when drug enforcement spending goes up, so does drug related violence shown on various charts from the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. In terms of social control, as the government becomes “harder on crime”, middle and upper class citizens feel at ease to conform to these rules and laws (O’Grady, 2007). This puts them on a never-ending spiral and allows them to feel mass amounts of strain leading to crime. When a “criminal” does not have the legitimate means (such as a job) to acquire a culturally defined goal (such as money), they are limited; therefore engaging in crime and refuting the stats quo in order to obtain the necessary means to survive. (Witt, 2009) As the government punishes the lower class by taking away the very little possessions that they barely have, they will only continue to act as criminal, if not act more criminal just to make ends meet. The war on drugs isn’t making any permanent improvement. It is simply forcing those involved in...

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