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Article Review: “Race, Drugs and Law Enforcement in the United States”

Article Review: “Race, Drugs and Law Enforcement in the United States”

There is no an existing policy that is able to justify the harshness in the drug policies of the Bush and the Reagan administrations (Tonry, 1998). The only explanation is that it is a political endeavor where crimes happen to be an emotional subject that the politicians use to induce fears and resentment to garner support. The conservative republicans, for instance, have been seen using anti-black sentiments since the 1960s to appeal to the white voters who were racists.

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A public discourse over the issue of injustice has been debased by the cynicism that has managed to increase the inability for a discussion regarding better, improved, and sensible public policies. This cynicism has led to a perception that blacks and Latinos are more involved in crime than whites. The criminal sentences against the public policies targeting blacks have consequently been made tougher. The development of harsh policies is the political adherence to the demands of the voters who desire tough policies against crime. The existence of the harsh policies and the war on drugs were adopted back in 1980 for political purposes and not for policy objectiveness (Tonry, 1998).

Jamie Fellner (2009) in her article “Race, Drugs, and Law Enforcement in the United States” advances the analysis of the persuasion for an aggressive law against drugs in the mid-1980s in the United States. According to Fellner (2009), the public officials are untroubled by the incarceration of blacks and the disproportionate arrest of blacks for drug offenses. The definition of ‘drug problem’ has shifted due to the views directed toward race. The reactions toward the drug problem have also varied in that the war against drugs has been misguided as to being a need for the poor urban communities. Fellner (2009) sees the relative indifference towards the harsh policies as a reflection of partisan politics, misinformation about drugs, “tough on crime” punitive philosophies as well as a misguided conception concerning the needs of the poor.

Although whites are less affected by the anti-drug policies as compared to Latinos and blacks, the supporters of the ‘drug war’ seem not to depict the discrimination because to them, the laws are meant to protect the minority communities against the addiction, violence, crime and even harassment. Therefore, they adopt the court's definition of discrimination not being present if ill intentions were evident (Fellner, 2009). As per the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), discrimination is present when there is an unjustifiable effect on a group regardless of the intention of the discriminative act (Fellner, 2009).

 Since the United States has ratified the ICERD, it is bound to fulfill its requirements by condemning any racial biases by reviewing the existing policies and amend them in case any of them are discriminative (Fellner, 2009). As a country that seeks to be a depiction of leadership, U S would not want to be depicted as promoting racial inequality and therefore, ICERD happens to be an avenue for an organization and even individuals who wish to call for attention on racial disparities in the criminal justice (Fellner, 2009).    

The introduction of the discriminative drug policies can be associated with the politics of the 1980s and the 1990s, where politicians used sentiments biased against the non-white races to gain political support and dominance. However, in the present times discrimination in the criminal justice and, more specifically, towards the war against drugs is seen as a way of assisting the minority to avoid addiction, violence, and harassment. In line with racial discrimination, ICERD has been ratified in the United States and it is a perfect arsenal for the fight against racial discrimination.

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