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The “War on Drugs” has been so terribly ineffective that it leads one to question its true motives. Even a dog can eventually learn from an electric fence, so why not the United States government? Is the goal really to curtail drug use, or is it to segregate society and vilify the disadvantaged?
A combination of mandatory minimum sentencing and other unjust laws has led to an enormous rise in U.S. prison populations. Thanks to these laws, 60 percent of the federal prison population consisted of nonviolent drug offenders as of 1999. In 1997, about twice as many people were arrested for drug offenses as for violent crimes.
As a result, the U.S. incarceration rate is now six to ten times higher than in most industrialized countries. Indeed, in 2000 the U.S. surpassed Russia to become the nation with the highest incarceration rate worldwide. A side effect of this enormous boom in prison population has been an increase in spending on prison construction. Since it is mostly young college-age people who are ending up in these prisons, fiscal planners have found that the most l…