There are currently well over two million people incarcerated in the United States, many for drug related crimes. Over three-thousand people alone are serving life sentences with no possibility of parole for non-violent drug crimes.
As recently stated by the ACLU for its Report: A Living Death Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses (2013):
The consequences of the United States’ late-twentieth-century obsession with mass incarceration and extreme, inhumane penalties are well-documented. From 1930 to 1975, the average incarceration rate was 106 people per 100,000 adults in the population. Between 1975 and 2011, the incarceration rate rose to 743 per 100,000 adults in the population—the highest incarceration rate in the world—with the total number of people incarcerated in jails and prisons across the country now surpassing 2.3 million. ACLU Report p. 11.
The United States not only incarcerates the greatest number of people in the world, but it also incarcerates at the highest rate. With an incarceration rate five to ten times that of other western democracies, the United States has less than five percent of the world’s population, but our country’s prisoners account for one quarter of the global prison population. p. 32.
Of the myriad reasons for these sobering, and tragic statistics, a primary culprit is the War on Drugs:
Harsh drug laws are responsible for a significant portion of our enormous prison population; over the past 15 years, in the wake of policy changes that resulted in a proliferation of extreme sentences for drug crimes, between 19 and 23 percent of state prisoners were incarcerated for drug offenses. Those figures are even more striking in the federal system; during the same time period, between 55 and 60 percent of federal prisoners were incarcerated for drug offenses. ACLU report pp. 33-34.
Of the prisoners serving Life Without Parole (LWOP) for nonviolent offenses nationwide, 79 percent (2,577 prisoners) are serving LWOP for nonviolent drug offenses. Of the 2,074 federal prisoners serving LWOP for nonviolent offenses, 96 percent (1,989 prisoners) are serving LWOP for nonviolent drug offenses. Of the 1,204 state prisoners serving LWOP for nonviolent offenses, 49 percent (589 prisoners) are serving LWOP for nonviolent drug offenses. ACLU Report p. 25.
This situation is simply intolerable in the “land of the free and home of the brave” which was founded on the enduring principals of protecting “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The Drug war must end.
Below are some of the Drug War Stories featured stories of the people whose lives have been destroyed due to the loss of their freedom as a result of the Drug War:
More stories coming soon…