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Will America ever end its failed war on drugs?

Will America ever end its failed war on drugs?
Will America ever end its failed war on drugs?
Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images

Wars generally have winners and losers. However, when it comes to America’s war on drugs, no one but the for-profit prison systems seems to be coming out on top.

From the New York Times:

Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971, which is one of the longest-running, most disastrous programs — in both wasted money and wasted lives — in the history of this country.

After more than 40 million drug arrests and $1 trillion spent, what do we have to show for it? For one, an obscene, bloated mass-incarceration system. According to the Sentencing Project, “The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails — a 500 percent increase over the past thirty years.

Considering all the damage the war on drugs is doing to America, the obvious question is why do we continue these failed and expensive policies? In a word, politics.

Elected officials are supported by money from lobbyists, many of which represent the private corporations that run our prison system. Prisoners have also become a source of cheap labor for a variety of industries.

According to Global Research, “Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one.”

As long as businesses are guaranteed government payments per prisoner, there will be a financial incentive to keep prison populations high.

Author’s note: The opinions and commentary in this report are based on the author’s original reporting and independent analysis of public information.

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