Last stand for the drug warriors
Three decades ago, in announcing an initiative to curtail drug abuse, President Reagan compared the enforcement of drug laws to the Battle of Verdun -- one of the costliest and deadliest battles of World War I1 Jun 2014
In the past three decades, the number of people in federal prison has increased nearly 800 percent, primarily driven by mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. Today, half of all federal prisoners are serving time on a drug charge. Nearly three quarters of people imprisoned for a drug trafficking offense are black or Latino, even though people of all races use and sell drugs at roughly the same rates.
Though federal drug penalties were aimed at breaking up drug cartels, they have largely missed their target. Instead of punishing kingpins, mandatory minimums have resulted in long sentences for low-level operators. Nearly half of those serving time in federal prison for a drug offense are mules, couriers, brokers, or street-level dealers, many struggling with drug abuse problems of their own.
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