On any given day in the United States, at least 137,000 men and women sit behind bars on simple drug possession charges, according to a report…by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.
Nearly two-thirds of them are in local jails. According to the report, most of these jailed inmates have not been convicted of any crime: They’re sitting in a cell, awaiting a day in court which may be months or even years off, because they can’t afford to post bail.
“It’s been 45 years since the war on drugs was declared and it hasn’t been a success,” lead author Tess Borden of the Human Rights Watch said in an interview. “Rates of drug use are not down. Drug dependency has not stopped. Every 25 seconds we’re arresting someone for drug use.”
A significant number of those folks simply see no sense to criminalizing a vegetable less harmful than beer. They won’t arrange their recreational habits to please puritans and conservative politicians.
Federal figures on drug arrests and drug use over the past three decades tell the story. Drug possession arrests skyrocketed, from fewer than 200 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1979 to more than 500 in the mid-2000s. The drug possession rate has since fallen slightly, according to the FBI, hovering now around 400 arrests per 100,000 people…
“Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime,” the report finds, citing FBI data. “More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year.”
In fact, police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.
The report finds that the laws are enforced unequally, too. Over their lifetimes, black and white Americans use illicit drugs at similar rates, according to federal data. But black adults were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to be arrested for drug possession…
The report calls for decriminializing the personal use and possession of drugs, treating it as a public health matter instead of a criminal one.
That brings us, as usual, to participating in the demented political construction of our 2-party political trap. Yes, a great deal of how issues and progress is treated is crap. Unseemly dedication to superstition, cultural leftovers useless as your little toe dominate legislative debates.
But – the big “BUT” – is winning what you can, making life a little bit better for people, while still being clear in your own mind what goals should be pinned in the long-term portion of that meat machine inside your skull.
Whether you decide to participate or not, the real creeps, reactionaries who still don’t approve of anyone voting other than white males whose wealth is measured by property-holding – are going to be at it 24/7.