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March 23, 2005 - The Daily Aztec (CA Edu)

'Drug War' Targets Wrong People

By Veronica Rollin, Staff Writer & political science sophomore

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Since Sept.11, 2001, the media have spent countless hours discussing a pointless "war" that can never be won - the war on terrorism. Because of this, media have largely ignored another objectionable "war" - the war on drugs.

Since the war on drugs was first declared in the 1970s, it has ruined lives and made no progress. Although there are two parts to the war - drug enforcement on the home front and a more literal war in drug-producing Third World countries - both ends do the same thing: They create victims without solving a single problem. People become victims when the war on drugs targets the least powerful in a society.

A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union cited the latest victims of the war on drugs are women. This has led to skyrocketing numbers of women being jailed for drug violations, according to The Associated Press. Lenora Lapidus, the ACLU's women's rights director, reported women who were hardly involved in drug trades have been handed long prison terms for such minor infractions as failing to turn in their husbands or boyfriends.

Because of this, women have been incarcerated and separated from their children, who often end up in the foster care system. The report also stated that sentences for female accomplices never take into account a woman's dependency on her husband or boyfriend.

Unfortunately, black and Hispanic women are more affected by the domestic drug war. The ACLU reported Hispanic and black females are sentenced more frequently for drug violations than their white counterparts, despite the relatively equal rates of drug use.

In Third World countries, the war on drugs is waged with no regard for the well-being of residents. There have been various reports of pesticides used to kill coca plants in South America, which have negatively affected the health of the local population.

This is the recurring theme of the war on drugs, both here and abroad. In the United States, it targets ethnic minorities and women; abroad, it targets Third World countries. What the war on drugs fails to do is target the real and only root of the drug problem - poverty.

Interestingly enough, poverty and unemployment are the common bonds between minorities, women and inhabitants of Third World countries. In the United States alone, the unemployment rate in black communities is more than double the rate in white communities, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The unemployment rate for Hispanics is also rising, according to the National Council of La Raza.

Furthermore, women have always received less pay than men in every occupation, according to the National Organization of Women. In Third World countries, the United Nations reports that more than 600 million children do not have a decent place to live. It's no surprise drugs are bought and sold by the very poor.

Essentially, the so-called war on drugs ignores the indigent communities plagued most by drugs, while harshly mistreating these very communities. Because of this, the poverty-stricken areas consistently fail to achieve any of their goals. This war has not reduced demand for narcotics, and it certainly has not reduced supply.

This war will not be won until national and foreign drug policy shifts focus from maligning the powerless to battling the poverty. The U.S. government must work to eliminate Third World poverty, the economic malaise of minorities and the pay disparity between genders. The drug trade is the industry of the world's most desperate people. Only relieving this despair can help win the war on drugs.

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