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Pattern, Purpose, and Race in the Drug War: The Crisis of Credibility in Criminal Justice (From Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice, P 260-287, 1997, Craig Reinarman and Harry G Levine, eds. - See NCJ-170648)

NCJ Number
T Duster
Date Published
28 pages
The drug war has contributed to injustices, especially racial injustices, in the criminal justice system of the United States because punitive effects of the drug war have fallen disproportionately on poor people and minorities.
Factors contributing to the unjust impact of the drug war on blacks include long-term changes in the economy, especially the decline in manufacturing jobs and the increase in service jobs, and the drug war's almost exclusive focus on street-level sellers rather than on white bankers who launder huge sums of drug money. According to recent statistics, 45 percent of inmates in Federal prisons are black, even though blacks constitute only 15 to 20 percent of drug users. Racial bias in the administration of drug laws has become so obvious that some judges have begun to throw out cases. The drug war has also affected races quite differently with regard to imprisonment rates. The differential impact of sentencing can be explained by a closer look at systematic practices resulting from sentencing guidelines. The impact of the shift from an industrial to a service economy and effects of education and language on black youth employment are examined. The author notes the drug war took marijuana off the streets and replaced it with cocaine, a much harsher drug and one associated with more violence. 59 references, 10 notes, and 8 tables