The War On Drugs And Their Representation Within The Criminal Justice System

806 Words Jul 12th, 2015 4 Pages
I believe the war on drugs has led to minorities being overrepresented within the criminal justice system in comparison to their representation within the general population. Since the beginning of the war on drugs in the 1970s, the prison population has been steadily rising, alongside an alarming increase in the number of African Americans who are residing in prisons. In 1980, drug offenders made up six percent of the state prison population, which then increased to 21 percent by 1998 (Austin et al.). According to the FBI, "data indicates that African Americans [made up] 34 percent of all people arrested for drug offenses in 2009" (Walker, Spohn, and DeLone 151) despite only making up 12 percent of the United States ' population.
Due to the fact that minorities are more likely to be charged with drug offenses, the drug policies that have been enforced since the beginning of the war on drugs in the 1970s have "disproportionately affected persons of color, especially African Americans" (Lurigio and Loose). Zero-tolerance and get tough stances on drugs, while not inherently racially discriminatory, have had negative consequences for racial minorities. One blatant example is found within the laws concerning the penalties for powder and crack cocaine. The former carries a lesser sentence than the latter does; however, African Americans are more likely to use and are more likely to have access to crack cocaine than whites are. While the policy in and of itself is not meant to…

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