Why Do Drug Dealers Serve Longer Sentences Than Rapists?
Health and Wellness

Why Do Drug Dealers Serve Longer Sentences Than Rapists?

A look into the War on Drugs and the American Criminal Justice System


“Drug dealers get heftier and longer sentences than rapists, which is perplexing considering that people ask for drugs, but no one asks to get raped. It’s the American Justice System in a nutshell.” This quote has been floating around the internet for years now, and it represents a common conception held by Americans. In 2009, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network reported that out of every 100 rapists, two will spend a single day in prison. Contrastingly, the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics found that as of September 2014, 50% of sentenced inmates in federal prison were serving time for drug offenses.

This information, startlingly high incarceration rates of drug offenders, is partly credited to the seemingly endless, trillion dollar effort that is the War on Drugs. This campaign began nearly 45 years ago when President Nixon declared, in 1971, “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” Nixon funded one of America’s first treatment programs, stating to Congress, “As long as there is a demand, there will be those willing to take the risks of meeting the demand.” The President’s policies reflected the temperance view and the disease view of addition. Though rooted in good intentions, and given ample time, resources, and effort, the war Nixon began nearly half a decade ago seems to still exist today. At that, it’s a war that has largely been unsuccessful, a war that we are losing.

That’s not to say that we haven’t been fighting it. Since 1971, sentences on drug offenses have gotten stricter, millions of offenders have been fined and jailed, and rehabilitation efforts have been made for those who face drug abuse problems. The problem is the government has taken the approach of locking their people up and throwing away the key, which, by any means, cannot be regarded or celebrated as successful.

CNN points out the biggest indicator that this movement has been a failure: “The US has the largest prison population in the world, with around 2.3 million behind bars. More than half a million of those people are incarcerated for a drug law violation … Have US drug laws reduced drug use? No. The U.S. is the Number one nation in the world nation in the world in illegal drug use.” CNN mirrored the War on Drugs to the Prohibition, an infamously flawed, doomed effort. “As with the Prohibition, banning alcohol didn’t stop people from drinking, it just stopped people from obeying the law.”

The vastly large number of people we have imprisoned would almost be deemed as a success for the US government if the high incarceration rates correlated with a decrease in drug use and distribution. But as CNN reported, no such correlation exists. We have thrown not billions but trillions of dollars at a problem that has failed to cease significantly. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported that an estimated 13% of state budgets go towards dealing with drug abuse but allocated only four cents out of every dollar spent for treatment and prevention.

Our efforts on reform have been few and far between. Ethan Nadelmann, head of the Drug Policy Alliance (A New York City based policy and lobbying group) says his group’s most remarkable accomplishment was the passage of California’s Proposition 36 in 2000, which requires treatment instead of incarceration for drug offenders and has already kept nearly 100,000 people from going to jail or prison. The act doubled money for drug treatment purposes and saved taxpayers money by reducing prison populations. Nadelmann and the DPA pushed for this act, and continue to push for it in other states, because they do not support the government strategy of making an intense effort to put too many people behind bars and not doing very little to reduce the availability of drugs.

If such measures were taken in all fifty states, things would be drastically different. Addiction is a disease. Putting drug addicts in jail is only locking them away for a set period of time before they are released and inevitably use again. Focusing efforts on rehabilitation instead of incarceration would allow for addicts to get the help that they need. It would not solve the problem over night, but it would drastically reduce incarceration rates, saving us resources and money.

Nadelmann stated, “The true challenge is learning to live with drugs so that they cause the least harm. An effective strategy needs to establish realistic objectives and criteria for evaluating success or failure, and must focus on reducing the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both drug use and drug policies.” Successfully winning against the war on drugs won’t be easy, but it won’t be a success at all if the government continues to see incarceration as the best answer to this lethal and dangerous problem. As Einstein famously believed, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Our well-meaning efforts in this war have been insane, unsuccessful, and borderline laughable. We’ve spent a trillion dollars and have made a small, barely noticeable dent in an ongoing epidemic. If we don’t act now to restructure our laws and the American Criminal Justice system as a whole, this could get much, much worse.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Quarantine Checkup Week 10: It's Officially Summer, Even In Quarantine

An Odyssey panel discussion about all things quarantine.

Thanks to coronavirus (COVID-19), most of the United States has gone into its own version of quarantine. While no one loves this new way of life we're adjusting to, it's the necessity that will eventually help us fling open our front doors and frolic freely once again!

Premature thinking? Maybe. But while we're in the midst of this quarantine time, we're chatting about the most terrifying, the funniest, and the weirdest thing that quarantine has forced us into recently.

Keep Reading... Show less

13 Father's Day Shirts Under $30 To Gift The Dad Wearing The Same Two Every Day In Quarantine

You've been begging him to change it up, and now he won't have a choice.

Let's be honest: most of our dads are wearing the same shirts today that they probably wore while changing our diapers and holding our hands as we learned to walk. Sure, we love them for it. But whether you're quarantined with him wearing the same two shirts on rotation every week, or every time you FaceTime him, you know what he'll be wearing before he answers the phone, he needs to add some new items to his wardrobe rotation.

And you know dads — they'll feel guilted into using practically anything you were to give them. But these shirts are sure-fire ways to get him to switch up his wardrobe, and he'll be more than excited to wear each and every one of them. Plus, most of them are under twenty dollars, so no harm in dropping more than a couple in to your cart and letting Dad have his pick of his favorites.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Hollis Tuttle To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less

My Boyfriend Has Changed Since Quarantine Began, And I Don't Know What To Do

"All he says is 'I love you,' which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Dear Swoonie B,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year, which has been the best year of my life (as far as i know). Well we go to different schools and are both very involved in sports and school activities which makes it hard to see each other. During this quarantine it is especially hard. Since we haven't seen each other in over a week things are kind of tense. He won't really talk to me much and I always check in on him to make sure he is doing well and to just see how he is, ya know being a girlfriend. Well apparently that is driving him crazy and I don't understand how. I'm not being controling or clingy, i'm just checking in on him. While this is happening, I also have noticed how he just doesn't really care anymore. I'll leave him paragraphs of sweet love letters to wake up to and I encourage him throughout his day but I just don't get it in return. I love him with all of me and I obviously care about him a lot. Also, I've compared how he talked to me before all of this has happened. He was so sweet and caring, texting me a lot and telling me he loves me and just making sure everything is OK but he doesn't do that anymore. All he says is "I love you," which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him. He is a little stressed at home with trying to find another job to pay for his car, constantly having to do things for his mom, being responsible for his siblings, and managing school. I know thats a lot but im doing a lot too right now and going through a lot of the same stuff he is but It seems to me he just does not care and i don't know what to do. Please help me or give me some advice on what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. Anything at this point will help. Thank you!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "these are unprecedented times," I'd be rich. But that's because it's true!

Keep Reading... Show less
Tower 28

On paper, Amy Liu appears to be one of the most intimidating women in the beauty business. Not only did she launch her beauty marketing career at legendary Smashbox Cosmetics, she went on to lead luxury, high-end brands like Kate Somerville and Josie Maran — just to name a few.

But sitting down to meet Liu for the first time in an underground New York bar over a year ago felt like meeting a friend I'd known since childhood. As she walked into the bar in a chic red dress, it was impossible not to feel her immediate warm presence. When she talks about her history as an entrepreneur (and truly, at heart, she always was one), you don't get the sense that she's selling you anything, though with her impeccable taste, I'd use anything that had her glowing review attached to it.

Keep Reading... Show less

8 Sustainable Clothing Brands To Use Your Online Shopping Addiction For Good Right Now

Looking to buy eco-friendly clothes? Here are my top 8 favorite brands.

Online shopping has made it easier than ever to buy what you want, anything from clothes to tennis racquets shipped to your doorstep with just a few clicks. Even better, it has made it easier for us to buy from the brands we want. Here is a list of my favorite eco-friendly clothing brands for your next online shopping splurge:

Keep Reading... Show less

Acne has plagued my life since my early teens. I thought I'd have clear skin by the time I reached college, but I was wrong. In high school, I became more self-conscious of my skin. It seemed that all the girls had faces like porcelain dolls (or they were really good at makeup). This hurt when relatives mentioned the rough state of my skin. I know they didn't mean harm, but I still stand by "if it can't be fixed in a couple of seconds, don't point it out."

To cover up my insecurities, I started wearing concealer in public. Since college, the amount of breakouts I've had has decreased, and I've even seen a reduction in scarring. I'm slowly building up confidence, and I've managed to go out barefaced during the quarantine (thanks to making face masks the new norm!).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments