This discussion is relevant to chapter 6 in your text. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rates in the world. According to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics as of June 20, 2009, 7,225,800 people were on probation, in jail, or in prison (1 in 32 citizens). These numbers vary substantially when you consider race, ethnicity, and gender. For example; while approximately 12% of the U.S. population is Black, they account for 38.9% of those incarcerated. Data show that while crime rates in many areas have been decreasing, since 1980 incarceration rates have increased times 12. 22% of that increase is for drug related crimes.
According to many scholars, law enforcement officials, and politicians we continue to lose the “War on Drugs”. Simple economic theory tells us that where there is a demand, a supply will be created. Do you believe that Drug Laws in the U.S. (and the various states) are too strict? Should we consider decriminalizing certain offenses such as simple possession (not for sale) for certain types of drugs? Should we focus more on rehabilitation, addiction counseling, or other strategies as opposed to incarceration? Should we legalize and tax certain substances? Also please consider, our prison population is aging with associated increasing costs for things such as healthcare within the penal system. What about sexual crimes such as rape that occur within the jails / prisons, most of which go unreported according to criminologists? I have included a link to an excellent Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Here is a link to a very interesting video on the war on drugs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJUXLqNHCaI
Please post your thoughtful comments to any of these questions, or related thoughts, to this board by 11:59 PM, MDT, Friday June 21st.
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