Overcrowded Prisons and the War on Drugs

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The War on Drugs
One must wonder if the "war on drugs" helps or hinders our American Criminal Justice System when you look at the overwhelming impact it has had on crowding issues within our prisons. At the present time there are over 1.5 million people in prison, 59.6 % for drug offenses alone.

The "war on drugs" started over 100 years ago in San Francisco, California when the first law against drugs was enacted to stop the "smoking of opium." In all actuality, this law was against the Chinese people living in the U.S., because they were known for smoking of the opium as a custom. The government feared that opium induced Chinese men would try to lure white women to them. The next drug that was considered illegal was cocaine. The law enacted against cocaine was against Negroes. The government feared that Negroes would use the drug and become violent and go on rampages of raping white women. (Schaffer, n.d.) Pennsylvania Prisons

The state of Pennsylvania is a leader when it comes to prisons, whether state or federally operated. At the current time, Pennsylvania has 9 Federal Prisons with 3 more proposed, ranking it #2 in the U.S. Pennsylvania is also home to 28 State Prisons, 2 that are new since 2003. Another prison was built, but is still not operating due to lack of funds. (Prisons in PA, 2004)

Why is the building of prisons on the rise in Pennsylvania? Overcrowding is the only logical answer, but why they are overcrowded is another question. Drug offenses are a major factor when it comes to the overcrowding issues. The laws in Pennsylvania are strict when it comes to illegal drugs. All drugs prescribed or not by a medical doctor, are subject to the "Controlled Substance Act."

Pennsylvania, like most other states, is a "no tolerance" zone when it comes to using drugs. While no tolerance may be considered a good thing, it is causing the overcrowding issue for our prisons. Get caught, go to jail. Judges are stating that they have no...
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