The disproportionate proportions at which the poor and the low income drug offenders have been arrested and send to jail originates in discriminatory disproportionate proportions of arrests which target this group of people. Differing to the public belief, the high numbers of arrest of the poor drug offenders do not indicate the high proportions of drug law violations but it show this group is mostly targeted by the law enforces.
In deed rich people and middle class people commit more drug crimes compared the poor, but the war on drug has mainly been fought in a manner that had predictable outcome of disproportionately targeting the poor and low income drug offenders. This research paper is going to take a critical review on: How drug laws affect low income/poverty filled areas in the United States. to tackle this matter, the paper will define what drugs are for theoretical understanding, and the give a detailed account on how these drug laws affects the low income/ poor people which is the main subject matter of our study.
Finally the paper will end by giving a conclusion of the discussion. What is drug? Drug can be defined as a substance which when taken in to human body, it affects the human brain in one-way or another. The global estimates suggest that there are nearly million illicit drug users and over 13 million injecting drug users, who live in America. Today, illegal drugs appear to all over in America. Illegal drugs have become popular among the youth, adults, celebrities, homeless, rich and the poor. The America government spends billions of dollars every year trying to make sure that illicit drugs don’t enter into the country .
Effects of drug laws on the low income and the poor A lot of people have asserted that laws which have been enacted to fight drugs have had an adverse effect on civil rights of the American people. As William (1992) observes, apart from the laws on drugs have resulted in direct loses being suffered by poor people due to increase in crime victimization. He adds that there is also long term under-handed monetary warfare leaving billions of o illegal dollars splashed around in the street enticing the less educated and poor youths into drugs, disease and crime.
Some other factors have also contributed in increasing the high rates of low income and poor drugs offenders being arrested than to those who are well off. For instance the low income/poor who abuse cocaine will probably buy the cocaine in inexpensive kind of single or few hits of the drug. And they have to get involved in more illegal drug transactions to gratify their desire for drugs. In contrast the middle class and the upper class cocaine users who have money to purchase bigger and long lasting supplies of cocaine will reduce the risks of being caught.
Since the higher occurrence of purchases as well as sells could possibly increase suspicion which leads to arrest. Poverty and drug offenders Presently, it is estimated that more than 2 million American people are in jail due to committing varied offenses. Research indicates that out of this number, two thirds of those in jail had received education which is below high school, while one third were not employed during the time they were arrested. Over the precedent years states have heavily invested in construction of prisons reducing financing higher education, in addition access to education while in prison has been harshly been reduced.
Official reports indicated that 8. 3 of black Americans in the working age group are unemployed. However, when you put into consideration the incarceration effect, the proportion is considerably more. Studies validate the apparent: the positive correlation between unemployment, low earning and crime. The stigma of being imprisoned has been enacted in laws as well as licensing regulations that outlaw individuals with past criminal records from many employment opportunities and other occupations hence successfully excluding such people from legitimate employment and consequently forcing these people to get involved in illegal business.
As Chin (2002) asserts, the punitive system can be observed as a kind of labor market establishment which methodically influences individuals’ employment and the system has an invasive control on the life opportunities of the underprivileged. The laws on drugs and the machinery used to implement these laws, fractures families, devastate individuals’ lives and threaten the entire communities. The machinery targets the low income earners or the poor living on reservations or near the reservations, the urban minority localities are also targeted.
This depresses the incomes within these locations and also repels potential investments in these areas. The missed potential incomes, savings, reduced consumer demands and lost human and social resources cost low income and poor communities in these localities countless millions of dollars in terms of prospective economic development and social advancement aggravating the political economy previously run down by years of capital flight as well as de-industrialization. Discrimination and economic impartiality This truth is not the end result of accidental outcome from otherwise well-thought policies.
This is the rational of predictable consequence of “tough on crime” laws together with the punitive jail sentencing policies which elected political leaders and the public officers hold to evade tackling the critical social problems resulting from institutionalized discrimination together with economic and political exclusion. By taking in jail a high number of low income inners and poor people who are mainly blacks, Latino as well as Native American and keeping surveillance over these people even after finishing their terms.
The laws on drug and the apparatus which run the war on drug have continued to carry on a social separation policy which deliberately separates historically underprivileged groups and ethnic minorities and other communities making sure that there is no a capital divestment plan that constructs social capital or economic infrastructure in these areas. Wisotsky (2000) warns that as the government fights against drugs, it is imperative that the government should look at the root causes, the fundamental wrongs, the terrible tragedies which are intrinsic in drug prohibition laws themselves.
He adds that one of these tragedies which are significant is the worsening continued urban poverty. Wisotsky (2000) further observes that drug laws perpetuate poverty in urban neighborhoods in two specific manners. One manner is through violence and disorder which is caused by drug prohibition. Just like alcohol ban in past century nourished the mafia, current drug prohibition laws produce a big and permanent underground market. Since individual who break the law can report to the police to make a complaint when other people break the same law and infringe on their rights, disagreements are instead ruled by violence or the danger of it.
More so, since they are criminals already, drug selling groups rather than advertising their business, they might readily choice violence in order to increase their market share, thus, the drive-by gun shootings, the killing from deals gone sore, and many other violent acts. Even in cases where there is no direct violence, illegal drug business, whether they carried out in the open Street or in the hallway change the atmosphere of the area and create a feeling of disorder.
This effect creates dangerous situation for the bystanders and discourages lawful business and in general makes life difficult for the residents of these areas. In addition Wisotsky (2000) observes that the second most critical manner in which drug laws have continued to contribute to poverty, probably in their present structure of enforcement. To him the current drug law enforcement has led to mass criminalization, high arrests, criminal records and incarceration which has been pushed through concentrated policing on particular groups of individuals.
For instance, studies carried out by Sentencing Project revealed that, on any particular day, about one in every three black teenagers who are mostly found in low income areas are put under some kind of correctional control be it in jail, on probation or given parole. Though, this number is not wholly for drug offenders, however, the Sentencing Project attributes many of these cases to be due to “war on drugs” which has been the main cause of increase in incarceration in the country.
According to Lockwood et al the hard line street-level enforcement of drug laws coupled by hard sentences on drug offenders has contributed to high numbers of people in prisons majority of whom are people of poor background and low income earners. He gives an example of New York where drug related arrests went up during the 1990s despite the fact that during that time felony crimes reduced by half. A noteworthy aspect of here is that of those arrested with drug related offenses, 60 percent were illicit rug uses and 70 percent of the total number was from those areas considered to be poor or low income areas.
The basic argument that “if you break the law, you ought to be punished” pales if put alongside the huge shredding of families and communities ties created by this unkindly twisting government plan. Or the schooling these young people receive when in prison. Even those who do not do jail term have their reputation destroyed and when potential employers get to know about their criminal records their chances of being employed are destroyed. These cases happen every day and it is a main national concern.
Even simple arrests can turn up on potential employer’s system on destroy a persons best attempts to get a straight and clean employment. This leaves many in dilemma and contributes to continued unemployment of a number of young men perpetuating poverty among them. It is clear that these laws on drugs are not working effectively since drugs are still found and doesn’t to seem as they will end. Drug laws and it effect on racism The number of blacks drug offenders and other minorities who are mostly poor or low income earners have continued to increase in prisons.
This disproportionate rate of the victims of war on drug can not shock anyone who is aware with the symbiotic connection between poverty and institutionalized discrimination. Western; Bruce and Becky (2000) state that economic disparity and political disenfranchisement remains inextricably entwined ever since the earlier days. The class discrimination enforcement of drug laws is one of institutionalized discrimination. Drug laws have lead to family breakdown. Street (2001) notes that even if the imprisoned parents are capable of maintaining communication with their children, being imprisoned results in disruptive effect to families.
Prisoners can not be able to take care of their left behind children financial or physically. These places added costs both economical and emotional on the families members have remained behind. Mass imprisonment robs millions of children of vital economic as well as social help from their parents particular their fathers. In addition, the children feel depressed and encounter other psychological effects such as anxiety, shame, guilt, anger and feeling rejected, and may have difficulties in schools.
Where does the drug money go? The United Nations International Drug Control Program estimates the international illegal drug business results in more than 400 billion dollars in business every year. Earnings of such an enormity invariably result in corruption and involvement at the topmost levels. But, the so-known war on illicit drug business usually targets the economically underprivileged communities who are located in poverty stricken areas and those whose income is low.
Other people who also suffer from this are the ethnic minorities as well as the indigenous communities in the USA. However, when you put aside the aspect of legality and laws against drugs, there is no proof of “a tickle-down impact”. The large earnings in the drug business are not empowering the low cadre players who comprise of huge number of drug offenders. On the opposite, the illegal drug business economy destabilizes non-drug associated business and restricts the employment opportunities of its players.
Debating the “legal apartheid” which keeps the low class poor, Fernando De Soto, a Peruvian economist clearly observed that “the poor live outside the law . . . because living within the law is impossible: corrupt legal systems and warped rules force those at the bottom of the world economy to spend years leaping absurd hurdles to do things by the book”. He adds that in a criminalized market, the danger of imprisonment is just like a kind of business license levy. Conclusion Laws on drug have adversely affected the poor and low income areas leading to increased levels of poverty in these areas.
As a report titled “discrimination in the criminal justice system” carried by the United States Department of States in 2000, to the UN Commission of Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) indicates that, discrimination in the criminal justice system is the main causative factor which hinders advancement towards economic empowerment in the USA. the USA should take a serious note on its duty of equality, justice and peace then, the war on drugs as well as prison industrial compound ought to be dismantled and compensation undertaken for the damage they have caused.
Annihilated communities should be restored and barriers and blockades brought down so as to assure the poor, the low income earners and other underprivileged communities a fair treatment. Only after doing this can the USA start acknowledging accountability for the derogatory impact of discrimination and its continuation by the institutionalized poverty through drug laws which are punitive and aimed at the underprivileged communities. Reference: Alfred Blumstein: Youth Violence, Guns, and the Illicit-Drug Industry: The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 10 (1995)
Angela Davis: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex Official government labor statistics as reported by the Justice Policy Institute in Poor Prescription: – The Costs of Imprisoning Drug Offenders; (1989) Blumenson, Eric and Eva Nilsen: How to construct an underclass, or how the War on Drugs became a war on education (PDF); Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts ;( 2002) Dorothy Lockwood, Anne E. Pottieger and James A. Inciardi: Crack Use, Crime by Crack Users, and Ethnicity; in Darnel F. Hawkins, edited, Ethnicity, Race and Crime; New York; State University of New York Press, (1995)
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