Published on Jul 10, 2014 by Vox
The federal government is crazy to classify pot worse than alcohol
Ezra Klein explains how drugs are bad, of course, but the drug war is even worse. It's possible, however, that legal pot could be a huge public-health win. Alcohol is a far, far more dangerous drug than pot — and there's some evidence that pot can curb alcohol use. But the government doesn't need to stop there: pot can be legalized in ways that make it much more attractive than drinking.
Huffington - Apr 8/2013
The Drug War And Mass Incarceration By The Numbers by Matt Sledge
United States = 5% of the world's population
United States = 25% of the world's prison population
Nearly half of all prisoners in state prisons are locked up for nonviolent offenses.
By 2007, states spent more than $44 billion on incarceration and related expenses, a 127% jump from 1987. Over this same period, spending on higher education rose just 21%.
1 in every 106 white males age 18 or older is incarcerated.
1 in every 36 hispanic males age 18 or older is incarcerated.
1 in every 15 black males age 18 or older is incarcerated.
Wikipedia: United States incarceration rate
The United States has very abnormal statistics when observing the racial dimension of mass incarceration. According to Michelle Alexander ("The New Jim Crow"), the United States "imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid".
A major contributor to the high incarceration rates is the length of the prison sentences in the United States. One of the criticisms of the United States system is that it has much longer sentences than any other part of the world. The typical mandatory sentence for a first-time drug offense in federal court is five or ten years, compared to other developed countries around the world where a first time offense would warrant at most 6 months in jail. Mandatory sentencing prohibits judges from using their discretion and forces them to place longer sentences on nonviolent offenses than they normally would do.
Another contributing factor to United States' spike in the number of prisoners is the War on Drugs, formally initiated by Richard Nixon with the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and avidly pursued by Ronald Reagan. By 2010, drug offenders in federal prison had increased to 500,000 per year, up from 41,000 in 1985. Drug related charges accounted for more than half the rise in state prisoners. The result, 31 million people have been arrested on drug related charges, approximately 1 in 10 Americans.
After the passage of Reagan's Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986, incarceration for non-violent offenses dramatically increased. The Act imposed the same five-year mandatory sentence on users of crack as on those possessing 100 times as much powder cocaine. This had a disproportionate effect on low-level street dealers and users of crack, who were more commonly poor blacks, Latinos, the young, and women.
Wikipedia: Ezra Klein
Ezra Klein (born May 9, 1984) is an American journalist, blogger, and columnist. He is most known for his former work as a blogger and columnist for The Washington Post, as well his ongoing work as a contributor to Bloomberg News and MSNBC. ... In January 2014, he announced he would be leaving the Washington Post in order to start a new media venture with several other veteran journalists. He will be joining Vox Media.
Wikipedia: Vox Media
Vox Media Inc. is an American digital media company... headquartered near Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C and across from Bryant Park, in New York City. Founded in 2003 as SportsBlogs, Inc., by political strategist Jerome Armstrong, freelance writer Tyler Bleszinski, and Markos Moulitsas (creator of Daily Kos), the network now features over 300 sites with over 400 paid writers.
official web site: Vox Media
YouTube channel: Vox
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