War on Drugs and the Correlation to Crime and Violence
Arizona State University
CRJ 408 Drugs and Crime
Word Count: 1,186
“In the nine years from 1980 to 1989, the arrest rate for possession of drugs increased by 89%, from 199 to 375 per 100,000 population” (Belenko and Spohn, 2015, p 117-118). The 1980’s contemporary War on Drugs established by Ronald Reagan lead us into a more retributive era of drug law enforcement. Changes in laws were rooted in the belief that drugs and drug related crimes were at an all-time high and considered an epidemic taking over our US communities. These ideals were magnified through the sensationalized media portrayal of crack cocaine described as the most addictive drug known to man. The US government embraced a zero tolerance policy which resulted in the extreme increase of incarcerations related to drug charges at the local, state and federal levels. (Belenko and Spohn, 2015, p. 102-103)
Reagan established that the use illegal drugs was a threat to national security and promised that his administration was determined to end the drug epidemic in the United States. (Belenko and Spohn, 2015, p. 102) In 1982 Vice President George H.W. Bush combined various agencies and military branches to create the South Florida Drug Force to prevent the entrance of cocaine from Colombia (NPR, March 02, 2007). In 1984 the First Lady Nancy Reagan launched the “Just Say No” campaign; the media and American education was flooded with anti-drug messages (Bagley, M.B., 1988) The moral panic caused during this era is contributed to the media headlines of crack babies whose “biological inferiority is stamped at birth”, reports of “crack whores” trading sex for drug hits and the fear of instant addiction. (Schneider, E, 2015, p. 1-2) Communities were intimidated through the overly exaggerated media coverage on the severity of drug related crimes.
To make sense of this societal fear we must first review