Just in from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition: As we celebrate Valentine's Day and the bonds that bring people together, let us not forget the policies that tear them apart. The drug warriors have taken millions of nonviolent drug offender parents from their families for crimes no more morally offensive than those of the rum runners who managed to make ends meet during the last prohibition.
Between 1986 and 1999, the incarceration rate for women grew by 888%! From 1986 to 1996, the number of women in federal prison for drug “crimes” increased tenfold, from 2,400 to 24,000, and the number continues to increase. Many leave children behind. Today, more than 2.7 million American children have lost a parent to a prison sentence, and two thirds of those parents are nonviolent offenders.
In the name of the children, in the name of the family, the prohibitionists destroy both. LEAP recently addressed the issue of legalization in YouTube’s annual online town hall meeting with President Obama. Although our question to the president received the highest number of votes among the video entries, it was not aired during the forum, leaving many wondering why the number one question would be passed over in favor of less pressing issues like favorite late night snacks or tennis. While the president may not be comfortable following up on last year’s YouTube question from LEAP, we will keep pushing decision makers to address this issue no matter how many times they avoid it or talk around it, because children of nonviolent drug offenders are getting left behind.
In 1980, one out of every 125 children had a parent behind bars. By 2008, that number had grown to 1 in every 28. Think of the average kindergarten class. Think of the child whose parent is missing. Connect the dots to the rest of that child’s life.
As current and former law enforcers, we know how damaging our drug policies have been to families. Under the guise of ‘public safety,’ we have been charged with the impossible task of upholding these failed and devastating drug laws. Meanwhile, the public is no safer or more protected, and immeasurable harm has been done to the family unit through punitive incarceration and the social stigmas that prevent many parents from seeking help for drug abuse or addiction.
The Drug War destroys everything it touches. Please help LEAP reverse the Drug War’s assault on the American family before it claims another victim. Donate now, and support our speakers in calling for an end to the Drug War.
And yesterday, in our very own South China Morning Post:
Sober advice on intractable drug problem
Updated on Feb 14, 2012
It's high time for a rethink on tackling the global drug epidemic. The US war on drugs has clearly failed. An urgent and honest dialogue is needed. So it should be welcome when a Central American leader whose country is plagued by drug-trafficking violence tries to raise the issue with his fellow politicians in the region.
The new Guatemalan president, Otto Perez Molina, a former army general, has proposed decriminalising trafficking as a step towards legalising drugs. Unfortunately, he has been dogged by accusations of human rights abuses when he was in the army. Regional leaders with better democratic and human rights credentials should re-examine the issues.
There is a need to consider anti-drug alternatives because the military option in the region has consistently failed.
Americans are the main source of demand for drugs. To stop its own citizens buying illegal drugs, the US government has militarised many of its urban police forces, imposed draconian judicial punishments wholly disproportionate to the crimes and created what has been called the incarceration epidemic. The US has 5 per cent of the world's population but 25 per cent of its prisoners. And most of those jailed are black men aged between 20 and 35.
The country long ago made the fateful decision to criminalise what is a medical and social problem. It has pressured allies in Central and South America to conduct their own drug wars to stop supply. In Mexico alone, more than 35,000 people have been killed since the government went to war against the cartels. The US drug war is estimated to have cost US$1 trillion, but with few tangible results.
Since everyone - even most Americans - agrees that the war on drugs has utterly failed, we have to ask what successive US administrations have been smoking to continue this devastating and self-destructive war.