.. uth America. He made the decision to invade Panama, and arrest Manuel Noriega, a notorious General that was helping to aid drug trafficking from South America. American troops surrounded Noriega and he surrendered, he was arrested and brought to trial in the United States where he was convicted of a variety of charges (“George Bush” 4). Which include “cocaine trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering, marking the first time in history that a U.S.
jury had convicted a foreign head of state of criminal charges” (Noriega 1). George Bushs plan to fight drugs was also somewhat effective. Cocaine use was down 21% over his administration (Check 2) and down 80% overall from 1985 until the end of the Bush administration (Bennett 140). Bush took a good stand on drugs, and achieved results. He had successfully curbed drug use and successfully arrested one of the largest drug suppliers in the world.
Overall the Bush administration had been relatively successful with regards to stopping drug abuse, despite spending large amounts of money to combat the problem. As the Clinton Administration started in 1992 drug use began to rise again. He did continue the tradition of spending large amounts of money on controlling illicit drugs in the United States. But unlike his predecessors Ronald Reagan and George Bush, he did not attain nearly the results that they did. Drug use was up almost across the board, in 1993 about 13% of all eighth graders had smoke marijuana. This was over double the percentage that had on two years earlier in 1991 under George Bush.
A Michigan investigator described it as “a problem that is getting worse at a fairly rapid pace.” Under the Clinton Administration Cocaine, Heroin, and Marijuana had all reached new levels of use (Bennett 140). Many more people are being convicted of drug related crimes, which seems like the policies are working but this is not necessarily the case. Today approximately 93% of all inmates have a drug related charge. The legal system with regard to drugs can be racially biased as well. The penalties for possessing “crack” cocaine are much stiffer than for powder cocaine, even though the two substances are chemically identical.
“Crack” cocaine is more of a street drug than powder, and “crack” is generally much cheaper. As a result, many poor, minority communities are caught with crack instead of the powder kind of cocaine. This makes them susceptible to much stiffer penalties and mandatory minimum sentences. This coupled with the fact that many minorities cannot usually afford good legal council usually puts them in a situation where they have to plea bargain and will definitely get jail time (Burdge 3). “Since the enactment of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users, the Federal Bureau of Prisons budget increased by more than 1,350%, from $220 million in 1986 to about $3.19 billion in 1997 (Bureau of Justice Statistics 20).
Overcrowding in prisons is one of the biggest problems with the modern day justice system. It takes massive amounts of resources to run them and there are too many inmates that probably should not even be in jail in the first place. “In 1998, the United States imprisoned more than 1,185,000 people for nonviolent offenses at an annual cost of more than $24 billion” (Irwin 7). The amount of taxpayer money that is being wasted in prisons is very alarming; it seems as though alternative methods should be reached. “Assuming recent incarceration rates remain unchanged, an estimated 1 of every 20 Americans (5%) can be expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime.
For African-American men, the number is greater than 1 in 4 (28.5%)” (Bonczar 1). In 1997 the total inmate population was estimated at 1.36 million adults. The total cost for “Corrections, judicial, legal and police costs: $71,465 per inmate” (Bureau of Justice Statistics 4). These statistics are startling, and these are not the only problems with the modern day drug war. It appears that too many basic American values have been undermined in the name of the drug war (“Is Truth the Casualty..” 3). Police and other authorities in many cases are abusing power and defying certain civil and human rights provided by the United States Constitution. “In 1996, 71% of all wire taps were authorized for state and federal narcotics enforcement.
To contrast, only 2.8% were for kidnapping, extortion, larceny, theft, loansharking, usury and bribery, combined” (Maguire 418). These numbers show that the government appears to be putting too much effort into drug enforcement, the government is giving drug enforcers too much freedom to investigate anyway they please. Regardless if there is a drug problem or not, taking civil liberties and violating the constitution is not what the American public had in mind for a drug free America. The United States government and its drug policies have become so strict and the people in charge have become so stubborn, that they refuse to view anything differently. And they refuse to see that the war has been lost.
From 1994 to 1995 cocaine production had increased by 20 tons and cocaine seizures had dropped by 73 tons. As a result approximately 33% or 93 more tons of cocaine were on the street than in 1994. In 1995 32 tons of heroin was seized, the government estimates that only 11 tons of heroin will supply the nation. Even drug Czar Barry McCaffrey said, “[arrests] will not solve the drug problem.” He suggests that people coming to their senses and to stop using it will be the only hope for a drug free America. One of the biggest problems in drug prevention strategies has been the failure to innovate. The government has used the same methods for the last 20 years and children simply tune them out by now.
Most teenagers have not seen drugs destroy lives as they have been advertised to do. And most parents from the 60s and 70s that used drugs feel uncomfortable telling their kids not to use them, because they did themselves (Witkin 60). Its obvious that the “drug war” as Ronald Reagan intended it has not gone according to plan. Since Clintons administration began, results have gone downhill, and continuing this “war” is becoming very costly. There are a couple of possible solutions; many people feel that legalizing certain drugs would be the best solution.
This seems as though it would just become a plague on society, similar to tobacco and alcohol. It would also be very difficult to enforce many of the existing laws. Some politicians feel like that by rehabilitating drug users it will be cheaper and more effective than putting them in prison. At the same time some politicians feel that we should just be harder on drug users. There is not really much more we can do in terms of making laws tougher on drug users.
They are already very tough and are not working and are consuming massive amounts of money for enforcement. Rehabilitation seems like it would work, and much more cost effective than harsh treatment. Mandatory treatment for drug users seems like it would be a solution at least worth trying on a national scale. This has been tried in Arizona, where non-violent users and sellers are being sent to rehab instead of jail. This policy appears to be getting results and may be ready for a try on the national level (Beals 25).
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