Tuesday, December 23, 2008

use illegal drugs with relative impunity

Matthew Fogg of Law Enforcement against Prohibition (LEAP) describes how the Drug War is a race war.

Matthew F. Fogg is a Chief Deputy US Federal Marshal who asserts that "Drug prohibition helps the US maintain a racial apartheid prison industrial complex." He's also a public speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

From LEAP's mission statement:

Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe the existing drug policies have failed in their intended goals of addressing the problems of crime, drug abuse, addiction, juvenile drug use, stopping the flow of illegal drugs into this country and the internal sale and use of illegal drugs. By fighting a war on drugs the government has increased the problems of society and made them far worse. A system of regulation rather than prohibition is a less harmful, more ethical and more effective public policy.

White users of illegal drugs are far less likely than non-white users to be arrested for drug use. When white users are arrested, the consequences tend to be less severe. In addition, the cumulative impact of the racist Drug War on non-white communities is enormous. As the Drug Policy Alliance Network notes,

Despite the fact that drug use is more or less consistent across racial lines, many punitive drug laws are based on beliefs that certain communities of color commonly abuse certain substances. Due to the racial injustices caused by the drug war, supporting drug policy reform can help end racial inequality.

Although African Americans comprise only 12.2 percent of the population and 13 percent of drug users, they make up 38 percent of those arrested for drug offenses and 59 percent of those convicted of drug offenses, causing critics to call the war on drugs the "New Jim Crow." The higher arrest rates for African Americans and Latinos do not reflect a higher abuse rate in these communities but rather a law enforcement emphasis on inner city areas. . . .

Once arrested, people of color are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than whites. The best-known example of the inequality in sentencing is the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences. Crack and powder cocaine have the same active ingredient, but crack is marketed in less expensive quantities and in lower-income communities of color. A five gram sale of crack cocaine receives a five-year federal mandatory minimum sentence, while an offender must sell 500 grams of powder cocaine to get the same sentence. In 1986, before the enactment of federal mandatory minimum sentencing for crack cocaine offenses, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 11 percent higher than for whites. Four years later, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 49 percent higher.

The racial disparities in drug arrests and convictions have had a devastating effect on families. Of the 1.5 million minor children who had a parent incarcerated in 1999, African American children were nearly nine times more likely to have a parent incarcerated than white children and Latino children were three times more likely to have a parent incarcerated than white children.


  1. recent study:

  2. Well, this is an interesting article and is brought into perspective when you see extremely rich White people being arrested for drug use, trafficking etc and get let off scot free.

    I was reading an article just today about Michael Douglas's son Cameron, who despite coming from a weathy family was busted for dealing "Crystal Meth".

    Just a few short days ago, one rader of this blog claimed that Black people deal drugs in the street or some similar comment despite it being a well known fact that some rich White people are well known for taking drugs and usually get off with light sentence or get off scot free, other examples of celebrities well known for taking hard drugs that spring to mind are Kate Moss and Amy Winehouse.

    Now, I am anti-drugs so I don't agree with drugs full stop, but when celebrities are caught drug taking, why are their sentences, if any at all, so lenient, while on the other hand the poor, disadvantaged and underpriviledged are sent to prison immediately?

    It's almost as though they have a get out of jail free card or something or possibly have lunch with the judge?

  3. I just realised I have a few typos in my post above, I was tired when I typed it, I think I'm getting addicted to this blog. (Pun intended)


Please see the "commenting guidelines" before submitting a comment.

hit counter code