The War On Drugs In Prisons

Superior Essays
The United States is home to dreamers, inventors, creators, teachers, apprentices, and achievers. It is arguably the most prominent nation in the world, though only five percent of the global population lives there (Hudson). Therefore, it is shocking and uncomfortable to discover that, while its population is quite small in comparison with other nations, the U.S. houses a quarter of the world’s inmate population (Hudson). Furthermore, the United States’ prison population adds up to a whopping 2.2 million people (Sidlow and Henschen 335), beating out the next highest nation, China, by nearly 600,000 prisoners (Walmsley). Given that China is home to 1.3 billion people, their incarceration rate of 1.6 million is slightly more understandable, …show more content…
Since then, other Presidents have continued fighting against drug use in America by having law enforcement lock up any and all people caught possessing, distributing, growing, or selling any illegal drugs (Breaking the Taboo). The War on Drugs has led to the large number of drug offenders in prison. Currently, half of the federal prison population is incarcerated for drug-related crimes (Galston and McElvein).
It is important to note the nature of crimes committed, especially involving drugs, because of another large flaw in the American prison system: minimum mandatory sentencing. Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) describes mandatory minimum sentencing as “laws that require the judge to give the offender a mandatory minimum prison term.” While some of these sentences seem reasonable, such as a life sentence for first degree murder, the minimums related to drugs are not so logical. The first nonviolent offense of “manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute” has a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, followed by 20 years for the second nonviolent offense, and finally a life sentence for the third nonviolent offense. These sentences apply to multiple drugs, including, one kilogram of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine, one thousand grams of marijuana, ten grams of LSD, and fifty grams of pure meth. The mandatory minimum
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“ACLU Policy Priorities for Prison Reform.” ACLU, 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
Breaking the Taboo. Dir. Cosmo Feilding Mellen and Fernando Grostein Andrade. Breaking the Taboo Film Company LTD, 2012. Netflix. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “Federal Mandatory Minimums.” FAMM, 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.
Galston, William A., and Elizabeth McElvein. “Criminal Justice Reform: The Facts about Federal Drug Offenders.” Brookings, 13 Feb. 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
Hudson, David. “President Obama: ‘Our Criminal Justice System Isn’t as Smart as It Should Be.” The White House, 15 Jul. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.
Ruiz, Rebecca. “Eyes on the Prize: Our Moral and Ethical Duty to End Mass Incarceration.” The American Prospect 22.1 (2011): A3. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
The Sentencing Project. “Racial Disparity.” The Sentencing Project, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
Sidlow, Edward and Beth Henschen. GOVT. 7th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2016. Print.
Walmsley, Roy. “World Prison Population (tenth edition).” International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013. Web. 14 Apr.

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