FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No-Knock, You’re Dead

by PAUL ARMENTANO

A growing number of political pundits are questioning America’s military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some are beginning to draw parallels to lawmakers’ much longer domestic war effort: the so-called war on drugs. The comparison is apropos.

For nearly 100 years, starting with the passage of America’s first federal anti-drug law in 1914, lawmakers have relied on the mantra “Do drugs, do time.” As in the Middle East, the human and fiscal consequences of this inflexible policy have been steadily mounting.

America now spends nearly $50 billion dollars per year targeting, prosecuting, and incarcerating illicit-drug users. As a result, the population of illicit-drug offenders now behind bars is greater than the entire U.S. prison population in 1980. Since the mid 1990s, drug offenders have accounted for nearly 50 percent of the total federal prison population growth and some 40 percent of all state prison population growth. For marijuana alone, law enforcement currently spends between $7 billion and $10 billion dollars annually targeting users — primarily low-level offenders — and taxpayers spend more than $1 billion annually to incarcerate them.

Despite these unprecedented punitive efforts, illicit drugs remain cheaper and more plentiful than ever. (Who ever heard of crack, ice, Ecstasy, GHB, or Special K 30 years ago?) Among children, the percentage using illicit drugs is little different than it was in 1975, when the government first began monitoring teen drug use (though, comparatively, adolescents’ use of cigarettes has fallen dramatically during this time). Illicit-drug use among adults has also remained virtually unchanged; however, far more users are overdosing and dying from substance abuse than ever before.

Americans are also dying in greater numbers a result of drug-war enforcement. For example, members of Georgia’s narcotics task force shot and killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in November 2006 during a no-knock drug raid of her home. Two officers in the raid eventually pled guilty to manslaughter and admitted that they planted drugs in Ms. Johnston’s house as a cover story for their actions.

A similar fate befell 44-year-old housewife Cheryl Noel of Baltimore, who was shot and killed by police in 2005 during a 5 o’clock a.m. “flash-bang” raid of her home. Noel’s husband and 19-year-old son were later charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Nevertheless, despite the drug war’s growing expense and civilian casualties, lawmakers continue to offer few, if any, strategies other than to stay the course. Such a mindset is epitomized by the outgoing House Drug Policy Subcommittee chairman, Mark Souder (R­Ind.), who authored federal legislation to withhold financial aid from convicted drug offenders, recently pushed for the use of mycoherbicides as biological agents to kill drug crops overseas, and continues to publicly lambaste drug czar John Walters for employing an oversoft (in Souder’s opinion) drug-war battle-plan. The families of Kathryn Johnston and Cheryl Noel would most likely beg to differ.

However, in contrast to politicians who call for a review of the U.S. military’s Middle East policies, few lawmakers are demanding a timetable to bring about a cease-fire to the war on drugs — or are even calling for a reduction in the number of “troops” ( i.e., narcotics detectives, DEA agents, et cetera) serving on the front lines. They ought to. If American lawmakers want to take a serious look at the United States’s war strategies, let them begin by reassessing — and ending — their failed war here at home.

PAUL ARMENTANO is the senior policy analyst for NORML and the NORML Foundation in Washington, D.C. He may be contacted at paul@norml.org

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
David Yearsley
Academics Take Flight
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail