War on Drugs and Prison Overcrowding
War on Drugs is an expression applied commonly to the campaign against illegal drugs by the U.S. government. President Richard Nixon of U.S introduced the term in 1969. War on Drugs comprises of several drug policies, military aid and assistance, and assistance from participating countries. Through this campaign, the U.S government intends to discourage and eliminate the production, distribution, and utilization of illegal drugs. This paper argues that the battle against illegal drug has led to overcrowding in prisons in U.S. It analyses the prison population in the U.S and relate them with those of other countries. It also makes some recommendations before its conclusion.
United States has 760 inmates per a population of 100,000 citizens. The U.S thus has seven to ten times more prisoners than any other developed nation. In a group of 100, 000 citizens, Germany has 90, France 96, South Korea 97, Japan 63, and Britain with the highest rate of 153 prisoners. When compared to crime stricken countries like Brazil and Mexico, the population of prisoners in the U.S is still the highest. In 100, 000 adults in Mexico, there are 208 prisoners while there are 242 prisoners in Brazil. The population of the United States is about 5 percent of the worldwide population. However, she has the highest populations of prisoners that represent 25 percent of the world's jailed persons.
The extensive disparity between the population of jailed individuals in America and other countries does not depict high crime rates in the U.S, as it is an example of the most secured nations. In 1980, the prison population of U.S. was approximately 150 prisoners per 100, 000 citizens. Since then, it has increased exponentially. Something must thus have happened to push the number of prisoners up.
The growth in the number of prisoners is explainable through war on illegal drugs. In 1980, 15 prisoners convicted of drugs were found in a group of 100, 000 citizens. By 1996, the number of drug convicts had increased to148 prisoners per 100, 000 citizens. The degree of growth in the number of drug convicts influenced the overall number of prisoners. Towards the end of 1970s, the average prisoners per 100, 000 people in most states were approximately 130 to 260. The average number of prisoners had increased in the late 1990s to over 600 convicts per 100, 000 citizens. Today, over a half of federal inmates in America are in jail on drug offenses. In 2009, 1.66 million citizens were drug convicts. The high increase of the number of drug convicts has led to overcrowding in prisons. For instance, in 2012, Folsom State Prison's total number of convicts was 2,912 yet the designated population should be 2,469 prisoners. In San Quentin State Prison, there were 4,223 inmates yet the carrying capacity of the prison is just 3,082 prisoners. The state government attributed the overcrowding to the increase in the number of drug convicts as they represented the highest number of convicts.
The U.S government has failed on the War on Drugs. The campaign has not led to the discouragement and the elimination of production, distribution, and utilization of illegal drugs. Instead, it has led to overcrowding in prisons. The U.S. government thus has to change the direction of the campaign. Instead of focusing on incarcerating people, it should focus on rehabilitating them through community rehabilitation centers. Again, the campaign ought to focus on the key people involved in the production of illegal drugs. It should target cartels while proffering rehabilitation assistances to the users and distributors.
In conclusion, War on Drug as a campaign against the use, production, and distribution of illegal drugs has caused a rise in the number of people jailed in America. When compared to nations like Japan, Mexico, and Britain, the population of jailed people in the U.S is the highest in the world. It represents 25% of the world's jailed individuals. The high rise of the number of convicts is due to the War on Drugs. The high number of convicts in the U.S has led to overcrowding in prisons. The overpopulation in San Quentin State Prison and Folsom State Prison show the truth of this fact. In 2012, Folsom State Prison had 2,912 yet it should only house 2,469 prisoners. In San Quentin State Prison, there were 4,223 inmates yet its carrying capacity is 3,082 prisoners. The state government attributed the high number of prisoners in these two prisons to the high number of drug convicts. Therefore, there is a correlation between War on Drugs and overcrowding in prisons in U.S.