Why the War on Drugs continues to fail

Shanta N. Covington MSNBC
5:33 PM on 05/08/2013

The word “war” is often utilized to push people into fighting for a collective goal or against a common enemy. There are classic military conflicts like the Civil War and World War II, and there are the ideological fights like the “War on Poverty” launched by Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

But what happens when a war is waged against a faceless and intangible enemy? Host Melissa Harris-Perry asked her Sunday panel whether it is time to re-focus and rename the “War on Drugs.” As Eugene Jarecki, director of the documentary The House I Live In, put it, “It hasn’t achieved anything. It’s achieved catastrophe.”

In the 42 years since President Nixon launched the “War on Drugs” in 1971, the consequences have outweighed the gains. According to the ACLU, of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, 25% of them imprisoned for drug offenses. There’s a reason why these incarceration rates are so high, according to Kathleen Frydl, author of The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973. “Our incarceration rates reflect the artifacts of our enforcement strategies,” said Frydl on the show.



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