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The New Jim Crow

The drug war is aimed to catch the big-time dealers, but the majority of the people arrested are not charged with serious offenses, and most of the people who are in prison today for drug rrests, have no history of violence or selling activity. The war on drugs is also aimed to catch dangerous drugs, however nearly 80 percent of the drug arrests in the 90s where for marijuana possession. The Drug War has undermined all constitutionally protected civil liberties. The court has, in recent years, permitted police to obtain search warrants based on anonymous informant’s tips.

They have also allowed helicopters to surveillance homes without a warrant, and the forfeiture of cash and homes based on unproven allegations of illegal drug activity. The Supreme Court have crafted legal rules that allow law enforcement to arrest virtually anyone. In 1968, the Supreme Court modified the understanding, that if an officer believes that someone is dangerous or engaging in criminal activity, that he should conduct a limited search to find weapons that might be used against him.

Police now have basically the right to stop and search just about anybody that is walking down the street for drugs, and because common sense indicates that hardly anyone nowadays will say no when police asks to search. Police officers also use pretext stops as an excuse to search for rugs. It allowed police to use minor traffic violations as a pretext for baseless drug investigations and single anyone for investigation without any evidence of illegal drug activity. The truth, however, is that most people who are stopped and searched in the War on Drugs are perfectly innocent of any crime.

Law Enforcements are trained to use pretextual traffic stops and consent searches for drug interdiction. This federally- run general searched program, that trained over 25,000 officers in 48 states, targeted people without any cause for suspicion, especially people of low standards. The interesting thing is that, 95 percent of these traffic stops yield no illegal drugs. Because drug-law enforcement wasn’t a priority, and with way more serious crimes happening, the law enforcement agencies were given huge cash grants to make drug-law enforcement a priority.

The Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistant Program offered millions of dollars in federal aid to every agency who was willing to wage the war. Eventually SWAT teams were formed and are now used for narcotics warrants with forced, and unannounced entry into a person’s house. In most drug raids onducted, instead of police arresting these people, the SWAT teams blast into people’s houses in the middle of the night, throwing grenades and pointing guns at children. A lot of innocent people are killed in the middle of these raids.

Even with all the cash grants, military equipment and training, the Reagan administration granted state and local law enforcement agencies to keep for their own use, the majority of the cash and assets they seize when waging the drug war. In 1984, Congress allowed state and local police agencies to retain up to 80 percent of the assets’ value. This increased the budget of police departments dramatically, who simply just took the cash, cars, and homes of people who were suspected of drug use or sales.

Thousands of innocent people every year go to jail without ever talking to a lawyer. Thousands of people are swept into the criminal justice system every year pursuant to the drug war without much regard for their guilt or innocent. Many innocent drug defendants convict themselves every year by accepting a plea bargain out of fear of mandatory sentences. Chapter 3 African-Americans and Latinos all over the United States, are subjected to actics and practices by law enforcements, especially those that live in poor neighborhoods.

The drug war is racially defined, and that is why there is a huge number of African-Americans and Latinos in prisons and jails all across the country. The rate of incarceration for African American drug offenders dwarfs the rate of whites. Even though whites make up the majority of illegal drug users, three-fourths of the people who are imprisoned for drug offenses are black or Latino. Black men have been admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate that is more than thirteen times higher than white men.

Arrests and convictions for drug offenses, not violent crimes, have propelled mass incarceration among African-Americans and Latinos. They are convicted of drug offenses at rates out of all proportion to their drug crimes. The system of mass incarceration has operated in a way to effectively sweep people of color off the streets, lock them in jails, and then release them into an inferior second-class status. When it comes to racial bias in the drug war, research indicates that it was inevitable, and a public consensus was constructed by political and media elites that drug crime is black and brown.

Once this “black drug crime” became conflated in the public consciousness, the black men would be the primary targets of law enforcements. An 18 year old black kid who was arrested for possession of more than fifty grams of crack, and a first time offender, was sentenced to minimum of ten years in federal prison. His lawyers argued that the law discriminated African Americans, because the majority of those charged with crimes involving crack offenders were black, whereas powder cocaine offenders were predominantly white.

An African American, Clyde Cahill, believed that race was the major factor n the crack sentencing laws and policies. He also mentioned that nowadays people have internalized fear of young black men, which has been created by media imagery and has helped to create a national image of the young black male as a criminal. In Georgia, life imprisonment was imposed for second drug offense. Georgia’s district attorneys who were seeking this penalty, only invoked it against only 1 percent of white defendants facing a second drug conviction but against 16 percent of black defendants.

The problem with all this harsh discrimination and racial bias by the criminal ustice system, is that thousands of people have years of their lives wasted in prison, years in which they would be free if they were white. The Supreme COUrt has ensured the prosecutors the freedom to exercise their discretion in any manner they choose, and this opens the door to claims of racial bias. Another good example of how Blacks and Latinos are overrepresented Christopher Lee Armstrong and his four companions were arrested on conspiracy of cocaine distribution.

Armstrong and his companions were black just like every other crack defendant that that office had represented during that ear. Of the fifty-three cases the office had handled over the prior three years, forty-eight defendants were black, five were Hispanic, and not a single offender was white, which was shocking because most crack offenders were white. The federal public defendants wanted to prove that federal crack laws were selectively enforced in a racially discriminatory manner and that whites were being diverted by federal prosecutors to the state system, were penalties for crack offenses were far less severe.

What no one knows is that the Supreme Court has granted the police to discriminate. The legal rules adopted by the Supreme Court guarantee that those who find themselves locked up and permanently locked out due to the drug war are overwhelming black and latino. Chapter 4 Back in 1853, every black person, by law, was considered a slave and could not testify to introduce evidence in court. Even though slavery seems like it has died, the badge of slavery still lives on for thousands of blacks.

The impact of the war on drugs has undermined the opportunities for Blacks and Latinos. Once they are labeled felons they are relegated to a permanent second-class status. There is also the harsh punishment for first-time offenders, who even if able to avoid jail time, will find out that, because of their conviction, will be ineligible for federally-funded health and welfare benefits, food stamps, public housing and federal education assistant.

The convicted will also have his license suspended and may no longer qualify for employment. In most cases what ends up happening is the ex-offenders end up back in jail because they are no longer accepted by mainstream society, or because they fail to play by rules that seem hopelessly stacked against them. Public Housing agencies were given the right and authority by Congress to use leases in order to evict any public housing tenants who are engaged in criminal activity.

Bill Clinton proposed the “One Strike and You’re Out” legislation, which allowed agencies to automatically evict offenders and it also allowed them to bar applicants believed to be using drugs. This had a huge effect on families, specially African-American and Latino, because with no housing they can lose their children. Because African-Americans and Latinos are targeted by police in the War on Drugs, it is far more likely that they will be arrested for minor, onviolent crimes. Thousands of people become homeless because they are denied housing assistance or are evicted from their homes.

Particularly racial minorities are excluded from public housing because of their criminal record, and most have a hard time finding a place to live after being releases from prison. Landing a job after prison is also difficult. Almost every state allows private employers to discriminate on the basis of past criminal records, by letting the employers deny jobs to people who were arrested but were never convicted of a crime. Most employers just do not want to consider hiring a self-identified criminal.

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