Explosion in incarcerations since the 1980s. Under the "war on drugs," aggressive policing drove up the percentage of those in state prisons for drug offenses from 6.4 percent in 1980 to 22 percent in 1990. More minor drug charges made it easier for prosecutors to push felony charges by citing a defendant’s prior record. These convictions triggered harsh sentences under new guidelines like California’s "three strikes" law, passed during the same period. The enforcement of these punitive new laws was, and remains, racist: according to the ACLU, black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, though they are equally likely to use. This, in turn, makes black people vulnerable to the rest of the criminal-justice system.
Drugs and Crime Facts. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics: "In 2004, 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal inmates said they committed their current offense to obtain money for drugs. In 2002 about a quarter of convicted property and drug offenders in local jails had committed their crimes to get money for drugs, compared to 5% of violent and public order offenders. Among state prisoners in 2004 the pattern was similar, with property (30%) and drug offenders (26%) more likely to commit their crimes for drug money than violent (10%) and public-order offenders (7%). In federal prisons property offenders (11%) were less than half as likely as drug offenders (25%) to report drug money as a motive in their offenses."
Why Statistics on Drug-Related Crime are Difficult To Interpret: Homicide as an Example. ... The FBI does not include as drug-related a murder that occurs during a robbery or a burglary committed by someone under the influence of drugs or a murder that occurs during a robbery committed to obtain money to buy drugs. In these cases, the homicide is recorded by its relationship to the most serious offense only, and robbery and burglary are more serious than drug trafficking in the FBI offense classification and in most State laws. Thus, current FBI homicide information may not categorize a large number of drug-related murders as so related.
Drugs and Crime Facts. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Has drug-related homicide chart from 1987-2007, with rates of 3.9% to 7.4% for drug-related homicides. "The Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that in 2007, 3.9% of the 14,831 homicides in which circumstances were known were narcotics related. Murders that occurred specifically during a narcotics felony, such as drug trafficking or manufacturing, are considered drug related."
OPED: War Won't Solve the Drug Problem. July 15, 1999. Washington Post. By Rob Stewart, of the Drug Policy Foundation. "In 1988, just over half of the murders in the city [New York City] were 'drug-related.' But once the researchers examined the circumstances of the murders, they discovered that the clear majority, 74 percent, were results of the drug trade, not drug use (14 percent) or the need to get money for drugs (4 percent)."
16.1% of parole violators returned to state prisons in 1997 for drug related violations; for failing drug tests, possession of drugs, failing to report for drug testing, failing to report for alcohol or drug treatment. Info is from Table 21 (below) of the PDF for this report: Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000. NCJ 184735. October 2001. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Still, it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes American prison policy. Indeed, the mere number of sentences imposed here would not place the United States at the top of the incarceration lists. If lists were compiled based on annual admissions to prison per capita, several European countries would outpace the United States. But American prison stays are much longer, so the total incarceration rate is higher.... "Rises and falls in Canada's crime rate have closely paralleled America's for 40 years," Mr. Tonry wrote last year. "But its imprisonment rate has remained stable."
2003.Federal Judge Quits, Calls Judicial System Unjust. Associated Press (AP) story, National Public Radio interview, and Judge John S. Martin's statement. "The result, he said, is a slew of lengthy prison sentences for low-level drug dealers 'who society failed at every step.' ... While many judges have criticized sentencing guidelines, it is unusual for a judge to publicly cite the frustrations of the job in stepping down." -June 25 2003 AP story. See also: Let Judges Do Their Jobs. By Hon. John S. Martin Jr..
See Wikipedia: Mandatory sentencing. See also this page. Mandatory Minimum sentencing is often used for non-violent crimes such as drug possession. It is a modern-day way to create concentration camps for drug-using "undesirables." Sentences that usually do not allow parole until at least around 80% of the sentence served. Federal laws, and most states, have mandatory minimums. The majority of U.S. prisoners are in due to the drug war in some way or another.
Ronald Reagan, 1980 campaign speech1: "Leading medical researchers are coming to the conclusion that marijuana, pot, grass, whatever you want to call it, is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States, and we haven't begun to find out all of the ill effects, but they are permanent ill effects. The loss of memory for example."
See Wikimedia Commons: Category:Government propaganda. Note the "glorious mission" or "glorious war" nature of much propaganda. Like the Republican-ledHoly War, the "War on Drugs". See Wikipedia: War on Drugs. It is really a war on some drug users. This particular glorious war was reinvigorated by the cult leaders, Ronald and Nancy Reagan. The B-movie actor Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6) is still worshiped like a God (or idol) by some segments of the Republican Party. "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made." - Jean Giraudoux. French diplomat, dramatist, and novelist (1882 - 1944).
From the report: "Nearly one in four persons (23.7%) imprisoned in the United States is currently imprisoned for a drug offense. The number of persons behind bars for drug offenses (458,131) is roughly the same as the entire prison and jail population in 1980 (474,368)."