Stop the Drug War

Alarming Facts about The War on Drugs




World's Leading Jailer: U.S.

The United States has a larger percentage of its population in prison than any country on Earth. Over 1.7 million human beings languish behind bars. Well over sixty percent of federal prisoners , and a significant fraction of state and local prisoners, are non-violent drug offenders, mostly first time offenders. Due to the War on Drugs, we have become the world's leading jailer. 1 out of 35 Americans is under the control of the Criminal Justice System. If present incarceration rates hold steady, 1 out of 20 Americans, 1 out of 11 men, and 1 out of 4 Black men in this country today can expect to spend some part of their life in prison.

Sources: Bureau ofJustice Statistics, Nation's Probation and Parole Population ReachedAlmost 3.9 Million Last Year, (press release), Washington D.C.: U.S.Department of Justice (1997, August 14).
Bonczar, T.P. & Beck, A.J., Lifetime Likelihood of Going to Stateor Federal Prison, Washington D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics,U.S. Department of Justice (1997, March), p. 1.
Currie, E., Crime and Punishment in America, New York, NY:Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, Inc. (1998), p. 3.

American Apartheid

One out of three young African American (ages 18 to 35) men in the United States are in prison or on some form of supervised release. The drug war is clearly a race war. Our country has more African American men in prison than in college.We call ourselves the Land of the Free, yet we have a four times higher percentage of Black men in prison than South Africa at the height of apartheid, an official national policy of institutionalized racism.

Sources: Substance Abuseand Mental Health Services Administration, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Population Estimates 1996, Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (1997), p. 19,Table 2D;
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1996, Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office(1997), p. 382, Table 4.10, and p. 533, Table6.36;
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 1996, Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (1997), p. 10, Table13.

Prison Orphans

One out of nine school-age children has one or both parents in prison. At the present exponential increase in incarceration, this number will be one out of four alarmingly soon. We are breeding an entire generation of embittered and disenfranchised prison orphans. We are losing an entire generation of young people.

Sources: Califano,Joseph, Behind Bars: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population,Forward by Joseph Califano. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (1998).

Violent vs. Non-Violent Crimes:
Prison Sentences

The average sentence for a first time, non-violent drug offender is longer than the average sentence for rape, child molestation, bank robbery or manslaughter. As our prisons rapidly fill to bursting, rapists and murderers are being given early release to make room for no parole drug offenders. While law enforcement continues to go after relatively easy drug violation arrests, every major city in this country has a record number of unsolved homicides.

Sources: Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).
The Consequences of Mandatory Minimums, Federal Judicial Center Report, 1994.
The Lindesmith Center; Ethan Nadlemann, Director

500,000 Deaths from Legal Drugs

Every year, 8,000 to 14,000 people die from illegal drugs in this country. Every year, over 500,000 people die from legal drugs (Tobacco, liquor and prescriptions). This is roughly a fifty to one ratio. Alcohol alone is involved in seven times more violent crimes than all illegal substances combined. Yet our Government continues to hugely subsidize alcohol and tobacco, while demonizing those who would exercise a different choice.

Sources: Califano,Joseph, Behind Bars: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population, Forward by Joseph Califano. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (1998).

Treatment, Not Punishment

It's been empirically shown that education and treatment is seven times more cost effective than arrest and incarceration for substance addiction, yet we continue to spend more tax dollars on prisons than treatment. In this 'Land of Liberty', we spend more money on prisons than on schools. We are clearly addicted to mass punishment of consensual 'crimes' on a staggering scale. The sheer magnitude of all the human misery generated in our government's war on it's own people is truly terrifying.

Sources: Rydell, C.P.& Everingham, S.S., Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Army, SantaMonica, CA: Drug Policy Research Center, RAND (1994).
The Lindesmith Center; Ethan Nadlemann, Director

98% Conviction Rate?

Federal prosecutors reportedly have a 98% conviction rate, and federal appellate courts reject 98% of appeals. The American Bar Association says this number should be closer to 60-70%. Does this mean that over 30% of those jailed are technically or literally innocent? (Do we really trust our government to do anything with 98% efficiency?) The nearly limitless and clearly unconstitutional powers that have been handed to the U.S. Attorneys by Congress is mind blowing in the extreme. The Bill of Rights is rapidly becoming a fond memory.

Sources: TheConsequences of Mandatory Minimums, Federal Judicial Center Report,1994.
H.R. 3396, The
Citizens Protection Act of1998, sponsored by Rep. Joseph McDade.

The NationalAssociation of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
Punch and Jurists: The Cutting Edge Guide to Criminal Law
The American Bar Association (ABA).

Shot or Beheaded?

If Newt Gingrich has his way, you can be given the death penalty for 'trafficking' in two ounces of marijuana. Former 'Drug Czar' William Bennett (author of 'The Book ofVirtues'!) has advocated the public beheading of convicted drug offenders. LA Police Chief Daryl Gates has publicly stated that casual drug users should be taken from the court room and summarily executed. We are rapidly approaching a totalitarian police state, where absolute power flows directly from wealth, and any deviation from the officially mandated status quo can mean incarceration,torture or even death.

Source: H.R. 41: TheDrug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1997, by Rep. Newt Gingrich.
Ain't Nobodies Business If You Do, by PeterMcWilliams. (Prelude Press)

Prohibition And Violent Crimes

The prohibition of alcohol in the early part of this century financed the birth of the present day criminal underground. The prohibition of drugs has given incredible power to the inner city street gangs, and put hundreds of millions of dollars into their hands. A generation ago, they fought with knives and brass knuckles. Now they have submachine guns and high explosives. We have turned our cities into war zones.

Source: Drug Crazy, byMike Gray, [Random House, 240 pages, $23.95; Publication date June15, 1998]
The Lindesmith Center; Ethan Nadlemann, Director

Consensual

Because drug crimes are consensual, with no citizens filing charges, the Government has had to get very creative to motivate suspects to testify against each other in trial. Known criminals are routinely paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, and offered virtual immunity, luxurious perks, and drastically reduced sentences for their information and testimony. Our prisons are full to bursting with innocent victims. More and more, Federal prosecutors are acquiring almost unlimited powers in the courtroom. They set sentences; they dictate trial protocol; they have turned purchased betrayal of family and friends into a high art form. Judges in Federal trials are fast becoming mere automations.

Sources: TheConsequences of Mandatory Minimums, Federal Judicial Center Report,1994.
H.R. 3396, The
Citizens Protection Act of1998, sponsored by Rep. Joseph McDade.
Ain't Nobodies Business If You Do, by Peter McWilliams. (PreludePress)

(Rich Bargains)
Poor Prison Terms

I have reviewed and studied literally hundreds of cases in preparation for this project, and I keep seeing the same alarming trend. The drug kingpins and professional criminals continually plea-bargain their way to freedom, or leave the country with all their wealth, while the low level offenders and innocent patsies, with no information to trade for leniency, and no resources for an adequate defense, are sentenced to insanely long terms. We are warring on the afflicted and the vulnerable.

Sources: Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).
The Consequences of Mandatory Minimums, Federal Judicial Center Report, 1994.
H.R. 3396
- Citizens Protection Act of 1998 -A bill to establish standards of conduct for Department of Justice employees, and to establish a review board to monitor compliance with such standards.


Just Say No

In thirty years of The War On Drugs, our government hasn't managed to accomplish even a small reduction in drug dealing and abuse, yet we have spent almost a trillion dollars. That is a huge fraction of the total national debt. All we've done is fill up our prisons at a terrifying rate, and pay homage to meaningless, mean-spirited rhetoric, like Zero Tolerance and Just Say No and Tough on Crime. By current estimates, we need to build a complete new Federal prison every two weeks just to keep up with the demand. At the present exponential rate of incarceration, we will have half of our population in prison within fifty years. Is this how we want to greet the new millennium? We will rip this nation to pieces.

Sources: Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).
The Lindesmith Center; Ethan Nadlemann, Director

International Drug Trade

It has been estimated that almost 10% of international trade is in profits from illicit substances. Some third world countries count narco-dollars as a significant fraction of their gross national product. While the drug war destroys countless lives among the working and peasant classes, the privileged elite grows wealthy beyond imagining. There is a strong economic incentive to keep the war going ad infinitem. While our elected officials pay lip service to 'a drug free America', the CIA is routinely involved with massive international drug-trafficking to finance its covert operations.

Sources: Associated Press, U.N. Estimates Drug Business Equal to 8 Percent of World Trade, (June1997).
The San Jose Mercury Press; DARK ALLIANCE, by Gary Webb.
Trade and Environment Database (TED), TED Case Studies: Columbia CocaTrade, Washington D.C.: American University (1997), p. 4.

It Can Happen To You

Don't think for a minute that you and your family are immune, because "we don't do drugs." As the Criminal Justice juggernaut swells out of control, "innocent until proven guilty" has lost all meaning. You can be sucked into the prison-industrial complex on little more than a whim, and spend a lifetime trying to find relief. An evening spent with the wrong crowd; a moment of rebellion or bad judgment, and your sons and daughters will fall victim. It has become insanely easy to prove conspiracy based on mere association and bartered for hearsay. Drugs are everywhere, from the inner city ghettos to the gated estates of the privileged classes. One mistake, one moment of unfortunate coincidence, and your loved ones will be gone, locked up for ten years to life. One day soon, it will happen to you, or your family, or your friends; make no mistake. This madness must stop now.





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