NAACP calls for end to "war on drugs"

hill harper

LOS ANGELES - During its convention this week, the NAACP put forth a resolution publically calling an end to the failed 40-year drug war. In 1971, at the behest of President Nixon, the U.S. government launched a campaign against drugs, and, incidentally, an assault against the African American community.

In the resolution, NAACP President and CEO Ben Todd Jealous pointed out the failures of the war on drugs and the specific targeting of African Americans in poor and working-class communities. According to Jealous, there is an annual $40 billion funding for the war on drugs campaign. He went on to say that African Americans are 13 times more likely to go to jail for a same drug-related offense than a white person.

Alice Huffman, president of the California State Conference of the NAACP, said that this war on drugs is directly causing African Americans to be "under lock and key," and she called for it to be "exposed and eradiated."

The NAACP, through its resolution, puts forth the alternative: to focus on a more rehabilitative strategy in dealing with drug users and offenders.

Robert Rooks, criminal justice director for the NAACP, has said statistics show that the war on drugs has failed, that drug use and addiction rates have not decreased.

"The only thing we've accomplished is becoming the world's largest incarcerator, sending people with mental health and addiction issues to prison, and creating a system of racial disparities that rivals Jim Crow policies of the 1960s," Rooks said.

After the Board of Directors ratifies the resolution in October, it will call for 1,200 active NAACP units to organize campaigns to end the war on drugs.

Photo: The NAACP's Hill Harper addresses the convention. Luis Rivas/PW

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  • One out of three young African American (ages 18 to 35) men are in prison or on some form of supervised release. There are more African American men in prison than in college. Thats a four times higher percentage of Black men in prison than South Africa at the height of apartheid.

    Let's look at the statistics: (2008 - illicit drug use by race) "Current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 or older varied by race/ethnicity in 2008, with the lowest rate among Asians (3.6 percent) (Figure 2.9). Rates were 14.7 percent for persons reporting two or more races, 10.1 percent for blacks, 9.5 percent for American Indians or Alaska Natives, 8.2 percent for whites, 7.3 percent of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, and 6.2 percent for Hispanics."

    That's 8.2% of whites and 10.1% of blacks using illicit drugs. Now look at the incarceration statistics:

    (2007 - incarceration rate by race) "The custody incarceration rate for black males was 4,618 per 100,000.
    while the incarceration rate of white males was 773 per 100,000.

    This means that there are at least 5 times more blacks incarcerated for drug offenses than should be expected. This is clearly a gross injustice!

    Whatever the exact dynamics involved, these horrific racial disparities are a direct result of drug-prohibition and are quite clearly unacceptable. This moronothon has done nothing but breed generations of incarcerated and disenfranchised Afro Americans and any citizen not doing their utmost to help reverse this perverse injustice may duly hang their head in shame.

    Posted by malcolm kyle, 08/23/2011 9:31am (4 years ago)

  • The NAACP is correct on this issue. The street vendors go to jail and the Money men get a pass. This farce should have been dumped years ago BUT untaxed drug money has made man a man rich.
    Legalize it and TAX it.
    Incarcerating young men and not helping them to gain skills is a plague on our society.

    Posted by SwampFox2U, 08/04/2011 2:41pm (4 years ago)

  • The reversal of the presumption of innocence in drug-possession cases is incompatible with the rule of law and is therefore unconstitutional in ALL jurisdictions. Besides, the economics of the drug trade imply that criminal sanctions are self-defeating unless concentrated on RETAIL SALES.

    See "The universally unconstitutional war on drugs": .

    Posted by Gavin R. Putland, 08/02/2011 5:36pm (4 years ago)

  • The War on Drugs failed $1 Trillion ago! This money could have been used for outreach programs to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing, free rehab, and clean needles. Harmless drugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy. Cannabis can provide hemp for countless natural recourses and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state in our country out of the red! Vote Teapot, PASS IT, and legalize it.

    Posted by Brandt Hardin, 07/29/2011 5:21pm (4 years ago)

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