War on Drugs and Prison Overcrowding

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The War on Drugs and Prison Overcrowding
David Turner
CCJ 1020
October 06, 2012

Overcrowding is one of the most difficult challenges that prison administrators face in the United States. There are many factors that that affect the constant flow of people being processed into today’s prisons. The “war on drugs” has led to more arrest and convictions that any other crime. The money spent on the prohibition of drugs and the law enforcement presence to stop drug trafficking raises high into the billions of dollars. The cost to care for these individuals while incarcerated has cost taxpayers billions over the years. When looking at today’s statistics of the “war on drugs”, the supply and demand is greater than it has ever been. From 1995 to 2003, drug offenses accounted for 49% of the growth in prison population in both state and federal institutions (McVay, 2011). According to the Department of Justice, in 2004, almost 30% of drug offenders in state prisons were serving time for possession, while close to 70% were serving time for trafficking. There is a strong following across the United States from state groups and services rallying against sentencing and pushing for drug counseling programs. Legalization for marijuana has resurfaced in the November polls in some states. In many prisons, marijuana convictions fill the cell blocks more than any other drug offense. In 1933, America re-legalized alcohol, and the 21st amendment re-legalized its production, distribution and sale. Alcohol consumption and violent crimes fell instantly (Goelman, 2011). As a result, the American criminal justice system felt slightly organized. Crimes that were being committed due to alcohol smuggling and manufacturing had almost came to a complete halt. President Richard Nixon’s first budget for the “war on drugs” was $100 million dollars (Associated Press, 2010). If only that was the budget these days. Published reports state that the Obama Administrations budget for 2011 was $15.1...
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