DrugSense FOCUS Alert #174 Friday June 9, 2000 

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #174 Friday June 9, 2000 
Posted by FoM on June 09, 2000 at 12:06:42 PT
Drug War Targets Minorities
Source: MapInc.
The inherent racism of the drug war is obvious, but it was confirmed again this week as Human Rights Watch released a report showing African Americans are punished for drug charges at rates that are astronomical compared with other groups. According to the Washington Post, "In Maryland, for example, blacks make up 27 percent of the population and 90 percent of those sent to prison on drug charges for a rate that is 28 times greater than whites." 
Every major newspaper has picked up on this story, offering an opportunity to point out that the drug war has always been based on racism. Please write a letter to the Washington Post, other large circulation newspapers and your own local newspaper to explain that the disparities are completely predictable consequence of the war on drugs. WRITE A LETTER TODAY It's not what others do it's what YOU do  PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlet if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness. CONTACT INFO Source: Washington Post Contact: letterstoed EXTRA CREDIT All of the following newspapers have printed versions of this story with the same basic information. Please send a copy of you letter to these papers, and your local newspaper as well. Title: US: STUDY: WAR ON DRUGS IS STACKED AGAINST BLACKS Source: USA Today (US) Contact: editor Title: Race Analysis Cites Disparity In Sentencing For Narcotics Source: New York Times (NY) Contact: letters Title: Blacks Unfairly Targeted In Fight On Drugs, Report Says Source: Los Angeles Times Contact: letters Title: RACE REPORT SINGLES OUT ILLINOIS FOR DRUG-CONVICTION DISPARITY Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Contact: ctc-TribLetter Title: Drug War Targets Blacks, Report Says Source: Dallas Morning News (TX) Contact: letterstoeditor Title: State No 2 In Racial Gap In Drug Sentences Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) Contact: jsedit Title: Drug Efforts Target Blacks, Study Finds Source: The Baltimore Sun(MD) Contact: letters Title: Nation's War On Drugs Targets Blacks Unfairly, Study Finds Source: Tampa Tribune (FL) Contact: tribletters  ARTICLE US: More Whites Use Drugs, More Blacks Imprisoned URL: Newshawk: Jo-D and Tom-E Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jun 2000 Source: Washington Post (DC) Copyright: 2000 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071 Feedback: Website: Author: Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post Staff Writer REPORT: MORE WHITES USE DRUGS, MORE BLACKS IMPRISONED The nation's war on drugs unfairly targets African Americans, who are far more likely to be imprisoned for drug offenses than whites even though far more whites use illegal drugs than blacks, according to a new report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch. The report, to be released today, said that African Americans accounted for 62 percent of the drug offenders sent to state prisons nationwide in 1996, the most recent year for which statistics are available, although they represent just 12 percent of the U.S. population. Overall, black men are sent to state prisons on drug charges at 13 times the rate of white men, according to the study, which analyzes a wide range of Justice Department information for 37 states to come up with its findings. These disparities exist even though data gathered by the Department of Health and Human Services show that in 1991, 1992 and 1993, about five times as many whites had used cocaine than blacks, the report said. The report added that drug transactions among blacks often are easier for police to target because they more often occur in public than do drug transactions among whites. "These racial disparities are a national scandal," said Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization. "Black and white drug offenders get radically different treatment in the American justice system. This is not only profoundly unfair to blacks, it also corrodes the American ideal of equal justice for all." The disparities are particularly striking in individual states, where black men are sent to prison on drug charges at rates as much as 57 times greater than that of white men. In Maryland, for example, blacks make up 27 percent of the population and 90 percent of those sent to prison on drug charges for a rate that is 28 times greater than whites. In Virginia, meanwhile, blacks are 82 percent of those sent to prison on drug charges and just 20 percent of the population. Overall, they are sent to prison on drug charges at a rate 21 times greater than whites. "More blacks were sent to state prison nationwide on drug charges than for crimes of violence," Jamie Fellner, associate counsel for Human Rights Watch, wrote in the report. "Only 27 percent of black admissions to prison were for crimes of violence compared to 38 percent for drug offenses." The Human Rights Watch report adds to a growing array of studies documenting racial disparities in the nation's criminal justice system. A report last month by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights found that African Americans and Hispanics are treated more harshly than similarly situated whites at every level of the criminal justice system. And that report came on the heels of a study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency showing that black and Hispanic youth are more likely than whites to be arrested, prosecuted, held in jail without bail and sentenced to long prison terms. Remedies suggested in the Human Rights Watch report include the repeal of mandatory sentencing laws for drug offenders, increasing drug treatment and eliminating racial profiling as a police tactic. Largely because of the huge disparity in imprisonment for drug offenses, blacks are sent to prison at 8.2 times the rate of whites. Overall, one in 20 black men over the age of 18 is in a state or federal prison, compared to one in 180 white men. "Prison is a legitimate criminal sanction," the report said. "But it should be used sensibly, justly, parsimoniously, and with due consideration . . . and respect for human dignity required by international human rights law. The incarceration of hundreds of thousands of low-level, non-violent drug offenders betrays indifference to such considerations."  SAMPLE LETTER To the editor: For those who still promote drug prohibition as a cure for social ills, a recent report by Human Rights Watch should be a ear-splitting wake up call. The report, which documents the huge disparity in the way different races are punished for drug crimes, shows that in some states black men are sent to prison on drug charges at rates as much as 57 times greater than that of white men, even though many more whites than black use illegal drugs. The report raises serious questions about the availability equal justice in the U.S., but those of us who follow the drug war closely aren't surprised at all. The drug war was initially implemented to maintain racial disparity. Drugs associated with particular ethnic groups were outlawed in a conscious effort to control those groups. Hamilton Wright, who helped to promote the first federal drug laws in the early part of the twentieth century, used this reasoning to support cocaine prohibition: "Cocaine is often the direct incentive to the crime of rape by the Negroes..." Others like Wright used similar language when they talked about opium use by Chinese or marijuana use by Mexicans. But, as the Human Rights Watch report has been issued in more politically correct times, I suspect many supporters of drug prohibition will say they abhor racial inequities in drug sentencing, even though they also believe the drug war should be "mended, not ended." The sincerity of such statements will be at best questionable. A look at the history of the drug war shows it is now smoothly functioning just as its designers intended. Stephen Young IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone number Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide:  TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: TO UNSUBSCRIBE SEE: Prepared By Stephen Young Focus Alert Specialist CannabisNews Related Articles, Web Site & MapInc. Archives:Human Rights Watch Whites Use Drugs, More Blacks Imprisoned On Drugs is Stacked Against Blacks 
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