Can These Bones Live? A Look at the Impacts of the War on Drugs on Poor African-American Children and Families
University of St. Thomas School of Law
Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal, Forthcoming
University of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-30
It is no secret that there is currently an incarceration crisis in America. A Pew Report issued in February of 2008 proved one of our worst fears, as the United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. In fact, according to the report, one in every one hundred adult Americans is presently incarcerated. One has to look no further than the last twenty years to identify the source of the boom in our nation’s prison population: Namely, the war on drugs.
Of all the communities impacted by the war on drugs, poor African-Americans have arguably experienced the most dramatic and lasting effects of the war. Although African-Americans comprise just 13% of the U.S. population, they are nearly half of those represented in federal and state prisons, largely due to drug-related crime. Notably, a number of incarcerated African-Americans are parents of children under the age of eighteen.
In light of the failure of the war on drugs to achieve its goals of reducing access to and the sale of narcotics in the U.S., one must wonder whether a new strategy for addressing the issue of drug trafficking and improving fragile communities is in order. The purpose of this paper is to increase awareness of the devastating effects of the war on drugs on poor African-American children and families in an effort to advocate for change.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: criminal law, criminal sentencing, war on drugs, race and law, poverty and law, incarceration, narcotics prosecution
Date posted: December 6, 2009