In Chicago, a rally denouncing the war on drugs was held outside the James R. Thompson Center in the loop. The purpose of the rally was to call for an end to the war on drugs 40 years to the day after it was declared by then-President Richard Nixon. Kathleen Kane-Willis, the director of Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, kicked off the rally by citing recent statistics indicating Illinois has a greater percentage for putting more African Americans behind bars for drug crimes than whites than any other state in the nation. Illinois continues to treat a medical and social issue as a criminal one which is obvious when the arrest/conviction rates are examined.
These factors directly relate to the dismal economic condition in Black communities. The current unemployment rate in Chicago is 9.4%, just a touch over the 9.1% nationwide. Yet the unemployment rate among Blacks is a staggering 21.4% the highest in the nation! How is this possible from a people that only comprise 36% of the city’s population and 12% of the state? What’s not taken into account is that Illinois incarcerates Blacks on a 8 to 1 ratio to whites for drug related offenses, therefore Blacks, upon release are labeled as unemployable and rendered economically impotent. Even if employers are willing to give an ex-offender an opportunity, often times their insurance carrier won’t be willing to. Rural areas of Illinois where prisons are built, count inmates as their residents thereby securing additional federal funding as Black communities lose funding due to the absence of the incarcerated.
The war on drugs has been publicly regarded as a failure, not true, it is a success for its creators. These are three objectives that the war was designed to accomplish and has accomplished:
the mass incarceration of Blacks
re-establishment of a class system
legalized discrimination of ex-offenders
Nothing said publicly nor privately can be said to disprove the intentional damage that the war on drugs has caused. Law enforcement was given a license to target a race and society applauded their efforts. For over 4 decades, Chicago Police Department officers can be seen stopping African -Americans, most of them visibly harmless, (by age or physical condition) posing no threat to the community but being searched simply because they LOOK like drug users or peddlers. Statistics remind us that no race is any more inclined to use or sell drugs than any other. Only recently have eyes been opened to these atrocities, now that they have, a change must be made.
What has to happen is a full repeal of war on drugs sentencing and overhaul of the judicial system. A system designed to defame the character of African-Americans and an attempt to broadcast to the world an image of a truly worthless people. There are more people incarcerated now for drug offenses than there were for ALL offenses before the war on drugs was declared. Funds spent on housing inmates MUST be used to implement real rehabilitation programs. Programs that truly prepare ex-offenders for re-entry into society as well as programs that assist ex-offenders in creating their own economic recovery through entrepreneurship. Currently Illinois spends $100 to $300 daily per person to keep an individual incarcerated. Time & time again programs designed to benefit ex-offenders have been proven to only be a fraction of incarceration expenses.
If a change does not come, that will be proof positive of what is already suspected. The judicial system and the war on drugs is a farce, a facade to disguise its true purpose. The gradual dissemination of a people, the dismantling of the black family and the strategic destruction of a race by the removal of its male species. If change is not initiated, African Americans will be history’s all time leaders in the casualties of war department.