Locking Up America in the War on Addiction

The US incarcerates more people than any other nation, and it’s not making citizens any safer. Prison rates in the US are the highest in the world, with over 2.3 million people incarcerated — a 500% increase from over the past four decades. Of those arrests, people struggling with drug addiction are often unjustly criminalized. Drug arrests are made over three times more frequently than all violent crimes combined in the relentless surge of the “war on drugs.” According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, nearly 1.6 million arrests were made for drug law violations in 2016 — over a 5% increase from the year prior. As the White House continues to enforce a harsh prison system that predominantly targets minorities, people with mental health issues and those suffering from drug addiction, states with lower imprisonment rates are the ones that have seen the largest decline in crime. While the Trump administration has showed some support for implementing more prison work programs to help former convicts find jobs, no real moves have been made for sentencing reform. Legislation was pushed in the Senate to minimize sentencing for certain nonviolent drug offenders, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to pose hardline opposition. He claims the reduction would incite a “highly dangerous cohort of criminals” and that passing it “would be a grave error.” This short documentary by Brave New Films exposes the corruption of US prison systems and the war on drugs, and it looks at viable alternatives to punishing those struggling with drug addiction. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy. Photo Credit: Thawornnurak / Shutterstock.com

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