America is in an epic battle, not against a foreign country but to keep you and every other citizen from putting a certain list of chemicals in your body. Since President Nixon, this battle has been labeled "The War on Drugs". This battle is extremely expensive: total cost to local, state and federal government equals $19.2 billion a year. In a country of approximately 300 million that equates to $64 per person (Elsner, p. 22). All of these resources are used in an effort to keep people from getting high. What do Americans get for 64 dollars a year; they get "4,348 [drug related] arrests a day, or one every 20 seconds" (Elsner, 2006, p. 20). All these arrests contribute to America's enormous inmate population of over 2 million (p. 13). For each of those inmates, the government spends $34,000 a year to have the honor of keeping them as wards of the state (p. 16).
Like all wars, the War on Drugs is obsessed with catching the ring leader, or big fish. This obsession has had international and domestic reproductions. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) when first formed, operated all mostly entirely domestic. It now maintains agents in over 40 countries (Cooper, 95). Back home, police agencies seize billions of dollars in "illegal" private assets, and in most cases pocket the profit. The largest impact from the War on Drugs is by far the isolation and classification of minorities as second-class citizens. African Americans now account for 40 percent of the prison population while only 12 percent of the United States (US) population (Elsner, 2006, p. 13).
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Department of Science Technology and Society/Public Policy (CLA)
RIT – Main Campus
Jakubiec, David; Kilcer, Andrew; and Sager, William, "The War on Drugs" (2009). Accessed from