War on Drugs

Thousands of drug offenders to receive clemency

Step by step, month by month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, as left us breathless as he and the Obama Administration have begun to heal America by destroying some of the malignant tentacles of the 40-year-old War on Drugs.

April 2013 will become one of the greatest landmark in establishing human rights in our own country because Holder’s most recent efforts will expand the eligibility for clemency to the 20% of all current prisoners who are serving sentences for marijuana possession, eventually freeing tens of thousands of people and improving the future for just as many families. He’s hiring more lawyers to free more and more people from jails and prisons.


In order to keep up with the influx of applications, Holder says the Department of Justice will assign more lawyers to review the applications. “As a society, we pay much too high a price whenever our system fails to deliver the just outcomes necessary to deter and punish crime, to keep us safe, and to ensure that those who have paid their debts have a chance to become productive citizens,” Holder said. “Our expanded clemency application process will aid in this effort. And it will advance the aims of our innovative new Smart on Crime initiative – to strengthen the criminal justice system, promote public safety, and deliver on the promise of equal justice under law.

This is a prime example of the progress at its best, and the further dismantling of completely coercive and useless systems. Things like racially motivated “stop and frisk” are unconstitutional in the first place and techniques like it are headed for the dustbin of history, at long last. Most important, we are seeing the first reversal of the corrupt and coercive corporate prison industry. Amazingly, as U.S. taxpayers we have been paying for the privilege of this industry’s Washington lobbyists wasting our time fluffing our congressmen, judges, and local communities for longer and more severe sentences, for the express purpose of improving profits, mostly on the backs of people of color, who have been ensnared by the War on Drugs because of poverty and joblessness.


What do you think?
Is there anything about the War on Drugs worth saving?
How will society change once this domestic war has ended, beyond the end of penalizing drug users?
What do you think of the very concept of for-profit prisons? Aren’t they a brick and motor conflict of interest?





Mass Incarceration: Follow the Money (Part 1)

Take a walk through America’s unconstitutional militarization of
local and state
law enforcement, based on racial hatred and racial politics,
nd the training, munitions, and financial incentives that support it.

Since we finished reading legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s startling book, The New Jim Crow, we decided to speak up more on the toll and tragedy of Mass Incarceration in the United States. More than that, we want to urge everyone to join the grassroots uprising meant to cure America of its addiction to racial politics and end this national scourge.

Your banks’ investments and your tax dollars contribute to the billions being spent year after year to finance a criminal justice system and a system of Mass Incarceration that are creating a new, unredeemable American caste system and destroying the lives of millions of people of color and their families. It’s a national tragedy right under our noses.

All three branches of our government, including the Pentagon, colluding with U.S. banks and the corporate for-profit prison industry,  have conspired to systematically disenfranchise almost 6 million people of color for minor infractions and petty crimes programmatically ignored among the white populace.

Because of the War on Drugs (1971), young adults of color are arrested and imprisoned, and become lifelong second-class citizens, at 5.6 times the rate of their white counterparts even though they comprise under 20% of the population. Unfairly, as felons they permanently lose all access to community benefits including public housing and job training. They lose their families and children because they can’t get housing and cannot obtain legitimate employment. In spite of having “paid their debt” to society, they often cannot vote or sit on juries. They are forever second-class citizens sentenced to a marginal life.

Consider that for every youth of color who is stopped and frisked for a small amount of marijuana today, there are 9 of his or her white counterparts who will possess and use that same amount today without any repercussions. The lucky white kids are free, unencumbered, never questioned, and go on to college or a job without a hitch.

The War on Drugs simply does not target white youth or adults. Rather, it focuses on random sidewalk searches (“stop and frisk”), sweeps of bus terminals, and profiling on our nation’s highways. Simply, people of color are the obvious “low hanging fruit” for local drug task forces to keep federal dollars, training, and munitions flowing into their local coffers, in amounts so great that no state or local governments can ever (or ever could) ignore. Alexander notes Phillip Smith’s “Federal Budget: Economic Stimulus Bill Stimulates Drug War, Too,” (Drug War Chronicle, no. 573, February 20, 2009) to point that funding has increased through the Economic Recovery Act of 2009, doubling down on money spent at the local level in prosecuting the War on Drugs.

We have now, without even realizing it or checking it, allowed for creation of a Police State.

We have been seeing this information slowly trickle in through the media. Recently, Lawrence O’Donnell, on his MSNBC show, The Last Word, very well summed up The New Jim Crow. These 5 on-air minutes should be the rallying cry for a new activism that says no, unequivocally, to the War on Drugs.

For more, go to Mass Incarceration: Follow The Money (Part 2).

 Anastasia Person contributed to this post.

 Image Source (Inmates Orleans Parish Prison) : Bart Everson

Image Source (Street Arrest – NARA): Yoichi R. (Yoichi Robert) Okamoto