Dr. Boyce Watkins cites some troubling statistics on the War on Drugs over at The Huffington Post:African-Americans are 62 percent of drug offenders sent to state prisons, yet they represent only 12 percent of the U. S. population.Black men are sent to state prisons on drug charges at 13 times the rate of White men.Drug transactions among Blacks are easier for police to target because they more often happen in public than do drug transactions between Whites.The disparities are particularly tragic in individual states where Black men are sent to federal prison on drug charges at a rate 57 times greater than White men, according to Human Rights Watch.More than 25.4 million Americans have been arrested on drug charges since 1980; about one-third of them were Black.The Black populations in state prisons are majorly disproportionate: In Georgia, the Black population is 29 percent, the Black prison population is 54 percent; Arkansas 16 percent -52 percent; Louisiana 33 percent-76 percent; Mississippi 36 percent-75 percent; Alabama 26 percent -65 percent; Tennessee 16 percent -63 percent; Kentucky 7 percent-36 percent; South Carolina 30 percent-69 percent; North Carolina 22 percent-64 percent; and Virginia 20 percent-68 percent.According to the Global Commission on Drug Policy arresting and incarcerating people fills prisons and destroys lives but does not reduce the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations.The average daily cost per state prison inmate per day in the U.S. is $67.55. State prisons held 253,300 inmates for drug offenses in 2007. That means states spent approximately $17 million per day to imprison drug offenders, or more than $6.2 billion per year.
This war disproportionately targets blacks and other minorities and the poor across all racial demographics.
But massive incarceration, a depressed economy, and the widespread violence is something that should give all of us pause, even those of us who have never been the target of a midnight no-knock raid or a life shattered by drug violence, police abuse, or the myriad other tragedies this war has brought upon our society. Dr. Watkins calls it apartheid, and in many ways he's correct. But it's more than that, too. The impact of the drug war is global, and the global poor pay the highest price.
Thank goodness the tide appears to be turning: