It is the 28th day of my email series, “Beyond Resistance: The things we should do to make us safer, healthier, and more economically secure.” Today’s topic: ending the failed War on Drugs.
It’s past time to end the failed War on Drugs. Our country has spent more than a trillion dollars at home and abroad to stem the tide of drugs coming into our country. What did we get? The world’s largest prison population, a broken criminal justice system, and rampant opioid addiction in communities large and small.
The drug war has been used as a tool to militarize the U.S. border, fuel racial profiling, and increase detentions and deportations. We don’t need more of the same. We need to reform our current drug laws, starting with the legalization of marijuana. We don’t need more punitive measures, but instead greater access to drug rehabilitation to help people struggling with addiction.
While the United States is home to less than 5 percent of the world’s population, we have nearly 25 percent of its prisoners, due in large measure to the convictions of non-violent drug offenders and mandatory minimum sentences. The consequences of any drug conviction are life-long, severe, and disproportionately affect African Americans and Latinos. We need to end the failed practice of mandatory minimums and reform sentencing laws.
We must also end the practice of civil forfeiture. This policy was designed to seize the property of drug kingpins. In reality, it allows law enforcement to seize private possessions without due process. Even before a guilty conviction, government agencies can legally confiscate property, and then keep it. In fact, under federal law (as well as many state laws) property can be seized and forfeited even when criminal charges are never filed against a property owner. I support H.R. 1551, the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act, which reforms civil forfeiture laws and holds agencies accountable for the property they seize. This is an important step toward a more equitable criminal justice system.
I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. You can connect with me here.
Member of Congress