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IPFS News Link • Drug War

The Wars on Drugs and Immigrants

•, by Jacob G. Hornberger

To deal with this failure, officials have enacted a series of measures designed to make their drug war succeed.

For example, with the active assistance of federal judges, who became ardent drug warriors, they began meting out the highest possible jail sentences for convicted drug offenders. Alas, it didn't work to end drug use. Oh sure, they succeeded in jailing lots of people for drug offenses but it didn't make any difference in what they were trying to achieve with their drug war — stopping people from using drugs. As they jailed drug offenders for long periods, new drug dealers would quickly take their place. The cycle would go on continuously, with no victory in what officials were trying to achieve in sight.

Officials concluded that the problem was that some federal judges had not yet come on board and become ardent drug warriors. That's because some of them were not meting out the highest possible jail sentences. So, they enacted mandatory-minimum sentences, which required federal judges to mete out much higher jail sentences than what they were meting out before. Those higher sentences, they said, would finally bring victory in the war on drugs.

But that didn't work either. As drug offenders received higher jail sentences, they would be quickly replaced by new drug dealers. Victory in the drug war was always out of reach.

They enacted civil-asset forfeiture laws. This enabled law-enforcement personnel to confiscate large amounts of cash that officials would find in automobiles traveling along America's roads and highways. The idea was that if someone was carrying a large amount of cash, it had to be from drug dealing. No arrest, trial, or conviction was needed. It was simply a matter of finding the money and stealing it.

Did it work? Nope. Victory in the war on drug continued to be as elusive as ever, only now there were lots of innocent people who were getting their money stolen.

I could go on, but I'm sure you get my drift. Through it all, the notion was that if we only "cracked down," the war on drugs could be won. And no matter how much "cracking down" was done, it was never enough. The answer was always "Crack down some more."

In fact, the ultimate "crack down" occurred in the Philippines, where cops began killing drug offenders on sight. No arrests, trials, convictions, and jail sentences. Just immediate execution.  Did this ultimate "crack down" bring victory? Nope. Today in the Philippines the drug war goes on.