War on drugs imprisoned millions of Black Americans

Discussion in 'Drugs, Alcohol & Tobacco' started by kazenatsu, Jul 21, 2021.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Parts of the article have been copied in case the link starts working. It has also be re-edited to make it shorter. This is only some shortened excerpts from the article, the entire long article can be viewed in the link.

    As a teenager, Alton Lucas believed basketball or music would pluck him out of North Carolina and take him around the world. In the late 1980s, he was the right-hand man to his musical best friend, Youtha Anthony Fowler, who many hip hop and R&B heads know as DJ Nabs.

    But rather than jet-setting with Fowler, Lucas discovered drugs and the drug trade at the height of the so-called war on drugs. Addicted to crack cocaine and involved in trafficking the drug, he faced decades-long imprisonment at a time when the drug abuse and violence plaguing major cities and working class Black communities were not seen as the public health issue that opioids are today.

    Lucas was lucky to be granted an early release from prison, something many in his situation did not get.

    "I started the landscaping company, to be honest with you, because nobody would hire me because I have a felony," said Lucas. His Sunflower Landscaping got a boost in 2019 with the help of Inmates to Entrepreneurs, a national nonprofit assisting people with criminal backgrounds by providing practical entrepreneurship education.

    Lucas still wonders what would happen for him and his family if he no longer carried the weight of a drug-related conviction on his record. Even with his sunny disposition and close to 30 years of sober living, Lucas, at age 54, cannot pass most criminal background checks. His wife, whom he’d met two decades ago at a fatherhood counseling conference, said his past had barred him from doing things as innocuous as chaperoning their children on school field trips. "It's almost like a life sentence," Lucas said.

    In addition to being denied employment, those with criminal records can be limited in their access to business and educational loans, housing, child custody rights, voting rights and gun rights.

    The racial disparities reveal the war's uneven toll. Following the passage of harsher penalties for crack cocaine and other drugs, the Black incarceration rate in America exploded from about 600 per 100,000 people in 1970 to 1,808 in 2000. In the same timespan, the rate for the Latino population grew from 208 per 100,000 people to 615, while the white incarceration rate grew from 103 per 100,000 people to 242.

    Gilberto Gonzalez, a retired special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration who worked for more than 20 years taking down drug dealers and traffickers in the U.S., Mexico and in South America, said he’ll never forget being cheered on by residents in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood near Los Angeles as he led away drug traffickers in handcuffs. "That gave me a sense of the reality of the people that live in these neighborhoods, that are powerless because they're afraid that the drug dealers that control the street, that control the neighborhood are going to do them and their children harm," said Gonzalez.

    The harsh penalties that came along with the anti-drug policies were widely accepted, mostly because the use of illicit drugs, including crack cocaine, was accompanied by an alarming spike in homicides and other violent crimes nationwide during the late 1970s and 1980s.
    Use of crack rose sharply in 1985, and peaked in 1989, before quickly declining in the early 1990s. Drug sales and use were concentrated in cities, particularly those with large Black and Latino populations.

    Because his crimes were considered nonviolent, while in prison Lucas learned that he was eligible for an addiction treatment program that would let him out early. But if he violated the terms of his release or failed to complete the treatment, Lucas would serve more than a decade in prison on separate drug trafficking charges under a deal with the court.

    After his release from prison, Lucas was faced with a mountain of fines and fees that he had to pay related to his court costs and incarceration. Fortunately his friend Fowler stepped in and paid them, helping Lucas get on track to his life.

    Not everyone was as lucky as Lucas. Often, a drug offense conviction in combination with a violent gun offense carried much steeper penalties. At the heights of the war on drugs, federal law allowed violent drug offenders to be prosecuted in gang conspiracy cases, which often pinned homicides on groups of defendants, sometimes irrespective of who pulled the trigger. These cases resulted in sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.​

    50-year war on drugs imprisoned millions of Black Americans (msn.com)
    Associated Press, Aaron Morrison, July 20, 2021

    This article brings up several issues. The so-called "War on Drugs" had a disproportionate impact on Black communities. There is controversy over whether the prison sentences were too harsh. Some say the War on Drugs has had a lasting impact on many in the Black community that persisted decades after it faded.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2021
  2. doombug

    doombug Well-Known Member

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    Just wait until the war on guns gets in full swing. Then you will see even more blacks thrown in jail.
     

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