The Drug War Has a New Target: Poor, White People
In one of my latest articles for The Anti-Media, I explain that the rate of incarcerated whites in the United States is higher than the total incarceration rates of most other countries across the globe.
At 466 per 100,000 citizens in jail—the rate of white individuals currently serving time in American prisons—the United States would still be in the top ten list of top jailers globally. And as pointed out by The Washington Post’s Keith Humphreys, the rate of blacks in prison has been in steady decline over the past decade, while the number of white prisoners—both male and female—continues to rise.
The explanation for this fact is simple: The drug war hasn’t stopped.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the crack cocaine epidemic that swept major urban areas across the country was met with “tough on crime” policies, forcing oftentimes nonviolent drug law offenders to go to jail for life. Blacks account for 80 percent of federal crack cocaine convictions but whites and Latinos account for more than 70 percent of powder cocaine convictions.
As the movement spearheaded by libertarian-leaning organizations asking for mandatory minimum reforms and drug legalization gains popularity among liberals and conservatives, more states begin to review their drug laws, helping to change incarceration rates locally while giving first-time and nonviolent offenders a chance to get their lives back on track.
But as another drug epidemic takes the streets of both urban and rural America, another group begins to feel the heavy weight of misguided government policies.
Just recently, the city of Huntington, WV saw 26 overdoses in a matter of hours, prompting news organizations to call the city the heart of America’s opioid epidemic.
According to The Washington Post’s Keith Humphreys, there are two underlying issues that have been putting whites in jail at a greater rate.
First, “changes in drug use and enforcement over the past 15 years” may be playing a part. But “[m]ethamphetamine, prescription opioid and heroin epidemics” have also impacted “whites more than did the crack cocaine epidemic.” In states like West Virginia where over 93 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white, there’s an increased push to toughen drug-related laws, prompting enforcement organizations to respond accordingly.
But as we’ve seen with the crack cocaine epidemic and the US government’s war on drugs, increasing penalties for drug law offenses does not work.
All Americans, whether they are white or black have only one obstacle in their everyday fight for freedom and peace, and that is government’s heavy-handed, immoral interventionism. The time to identify the beast and speak openly about it is now.