Monday, November 08, 2004

LOSING THE WAR ON DRUGS

The number of women incarcerated in American state and federal prisons is at an all-time high. This is a direct result of the 'War on Drugs.'

There were 101,179 women in prisons last year, 3.6 per cent more than in 2002, the Justice Department said. That marks the first time the women's prison population has topped 100,000, and continues a trend of rapid growth.
At the close of 2003, U.S. prisons held 1,368,866 men, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported. The total was two per cent more than in 2002.
Expressed in terms of the population at large, that means that in 2003, one in every 109 U.S. men was in prison. For women the figure was one in every 1,613.

Longer sentences, particularly for drug related offences are credited for the dramatic rise in the American prison population. The proportion of incarcerated women has increased at a much greater rate than that of men and the start of this trend corresponds almost exactly with the beginning of the 'War on Drugs' in the early eighties.

One of the principal problems with the 'War on Drugs' is that it creates a ripple of other social problems beyond just drug abuse. One commentator said of the rise in female incarceration:
"It represents a sort of vicious cycle of women engaged in drug abuse and often connected with financial or psychological dependence with a boyfriend, or other man involved in drug crime."
The Drug War, of course could be won if the conditions necessitating a 'war' were removed: namely if all or most drugs were regulated and legalized.

Canada, despite the much talked about legislation on marijuana is hardly moving in this direction. As for the United States it has far too much invested in the current 'war' to even consider changing its policies.

'Just Say No' obviously is not working.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:37 AM