United States has waged a "War on Drugs." Within this endeavor the nation has passed and implanted some extremely tough laws regarding drugs, on a local, state and national level. The laws are meant to act as a deterrent for those who abuse drugs by way of sales, manufacturing and use. The laws send people to prisons for a long time as well as create probation and parole status for many who violate the laws.
The belief is that stricter laws will reduce the number of drug offenses and drug use in the United States. Those who draft and pass the legislation for tougher drug laws believe that the fear of jail and other punishments will deter people from drug use, manufacturing and sales. While this has been going on for the last few decades the nation has continued to wrestle with drug issues. It is unclear whether the tough anti-drug laws are curbing drug use and manufacturing and selling or if it having no impact at all. This study is proposed for the purpose of answering the question" "What if any impact are tough anti-drug laws having on its actual manufacture, sale and use of them?" The study will attempt to answer this question for the purpose of future studies as well as the development of future laws or calls to repeal laws that are on the books.
COMPARATIVE STUDY TO DETERMINE HOW EFFECTIVE AMERICA'S STRICT ANTI-DRUG LAWS ARE IN REDUCING THE DRUG PROBLEMS IN THE NATION
Drugs have become a huge American problem. Politicians use drugs as a platform to promise the sun, moon and starts to their constituents in exchange for votes. Entire organizations are embroiled in the War on Drugs with their stickers, pins, meetings, contests and advertisements (Stuart, 2002). Movie stars who have loved ones or co-workers involved in drugs use the media to get the message out. And those who make and enforce laws against drugs are making the punishments harder and harder in the hopes that strict enforcement and tougher sentences will reduce the use of drugs on all fronts, manufacturing, sales and use. Whether or not the enforcement of these laws is actually curbing the use or distribution of drugs remains to be seen (Stuart, 2002). Lawmakers believe that tougher sentences will scare the offenders into giving up the practice of manufacturing selling and using drugs. Unfortunately those who take part in the illegal drug industry only see the opportunity to make large amounts of money, with no required education, and very little training (Stuart, 2002). It is a battle of wills, a battle of morals and a war that pits not only the good against the bad, and the greedy against the content, but the weak against the strong. In addition to this drugs can be addictive, which muddies the waters when it comes to curbing their use and reducing their distribution (Stuart, 2002). Those who are addicted will do whatever it takes to secure and use their drug of choice, and there are always criminals more than willing to provide for their needs.
Other nations have adopted different rules and laws when it comes to drugs. One example is Holland, a nation well-known worldwide for having one of the most relaxed attitudes on earth about the use of drugs. Turkey on the other hand has long since been known as one of the toughest nations on earth, often sentencing distributors to death. America sits in the middle but is leaning more toward Turkey's belief than the beliefs held in Holland. The time has come to determine if the tough anti-drug laws and sentences are actually acting as a successful deterrent in the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of illegal drugs.
Few people will deny the negative impact that certain street drugs have on those who use them. On any night one can turn on the television and see a news show about drugs and their use as far as the negative impact goes. The crime and violence that often go hand in hand with drug use is common knowledge. Where the disagreement comes into play is the decision or belief that the current stricter anti-drug laws are the answer to the problem. Some experts believe they are while others hold to the belief that Holland has the right idea and an acceptance and out in the open attitude is the way to curb the serious problems arising from the use of drugs.
Even among the nation's own politicians there is disagreement about the effectiveness of strict anti-drug laws and campaigns and their success of failure regarding drug use and abuse in America.
Nobody could call Sen. Jeff Sessions soft on crime. The Alabama Republican is a passionate drug warrior. He won a Justice Department award in 1991, when he was the U.S. attorney in Mobile, for "significant achievement in the war against drug trafficking." Sessions says (Stuart, 2002), "They could put that on my tombstone, and I'd be satisfied." He supports severe mandatory minimum sentences for truly dangerous drug dealers. He is especially critical of a provision mandating the same five-year minimum prison term for possessing (or for selling) a measly 5 grams of crack-"the weight of one nickel," Sessions notes in an interview-as for selling 500 grams of powder cocaine (Stuart, 2002). "The 100-to-1 disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, which falls hardest on African-Americans [who constitute more than 90% of crack users], is simply unjust (Stuart, 2002)," Sessions asserted in December, while proposing a bill to decrease the penalties for nonviolent, low-level crack defendants. He would also require more prison time for "the worst and most violent drug offenders (Stuart, 2002)."
He is but one example of political anger at the current drug issues and laws (Stuart, 2002). They insist that they are not pro-drug, but they are against using punishments that do not fit the crime and punishments that have not thus far shown an ability to reduce the use of drugs in America in their opinion (Stuart, 2002).
Nobody could plausibly call John J. DiIulio Jr. soft on crime, either (Stuart, 2002). The University of Pennsylvania criminologist is a self-described "crime-control conservative" who wants to "incarcerate the really bad guys (Stuart, 2002)." He was congressional conservatives' favorite expert advocate of tougher prison sentences years before he spent seven months in 2001 as head of President Bush's faith-based initiative office. But DiIulio had come to see the unfairness and ineffectiveness of the penalties for crack (and other drugs) by 1999, when he wrote, "The nation has 'maxed out' on the public safety value of incarceration (Stuart, 2002)," and "there is a conservative crime-control case to be made for repealing mandatory-minimum drug laws now." Such a repeal would move us a healthy notch back toward letting judges do what they do best: fit the penalty to the crime and the individual criminal (Stuart, 2002). "
On the other side of the coin are politicians such as Bush who want the crack laws left in place and want stiffer sentences for those who participate in other illegal drug activity as well.
Statistical evidence about crime and punishment is not easy to interpret. On the one had there are stats that more than 20 K. per inmate per year is spent on housing non-violent drug offenders (Stuart, 2002). "This puts the administration out of step not only with Sessions, Hatch, and Diulio, but also with most conservative as well as liberal federal judges, virtually all serious scholars (including conservative crime- control guru James Q. Wilson), and the U.S. Sentencing Commission (Stuart, 2002)."
The Justice Department is also at odds with Bush himself, who said in January 2001(Stuart, 2002), "Long minimum sentences for the first- time users may not be the best way to occupy jail space and/or heal people from their disease (Stuart, 2002)," and "I don't believe we ought to be discriminatory (Stuart, 2002) " by punishing crack offenders more severely than powder cocaine offenders. Meanwhile, the Justice Department is urging the Supreme Court to uphold California's draconian (Stuart, 2002) "Three Strikes" law by ratifying a heroin addict's sentence of at least 50 years to life-more than most murderers get-for shoplifting $153.54 worth of videotapes from two Kmart stores (Stuart, 2002). The statute subjected the man to what a federal appeals court called this "cruel and unusual punishment" because he had been convicted in 1982 of two nonviolent home burglaries and later of carrying a small amount of marijuana (Stuart, 2002). Under the current federal sentencing provisions, defendants who possess, sell, or help to sell 5 grams of crack cocaine receive prison terms averaging 5.4 times as long as those who sell 5 grams of powder cocaine, according to a recent Justice Department study (Stuart, 2002). In cases in which the defendants have little or no criminal history, crack sentences for five grams average 8.3 times as long as powder sentences (Stuart, 2002)."