A reminder of the tradeoffs when you invest in a drug war

The War on Drugs Could Be Making Our Communities More Dangerous by Justin Glawe at Vice.com.

“Sexual assault just isn’t at the top of the agenda,” says Ilse Knecht of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a sexual assault victim advocacy group.

She’s not the only one calling for a redirection of resources.

“We’ve been advocating that money be made available for robbery units, homicide units, sexual crime units,” said Neill Franklin, director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a national coalition of former police officers and criminal justice reform advocates. “How about using some of that money to analyze the rape kits that are sitting on shelves waiting to be looked at?” […]

Franklin and other reformers are disturbed by the recent uptick in homicides, and are pushing for more resources to go toward preventing the killings and achieving justice for the victims and their families.

“In the 1960s and 1970s, we were solving nine out of 10 murders,” Franklin said. “Now, in some places like Baltimore, it’s more like three out of ten. Federal dollars that are going to law enforcement agencies need to be reevaluated, pulled back from drug enforcement, and redirected toward preventing and solving violent crime.”

The drug war gets all the extra funding – the asset forfeiture funds, the Byrne grants, etc. All the task forces, SWAT teams and other resources put into the drug war take away from police efforts on solving violent crimes, including murder and sex crimes.

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10 Responses to A reminder of the tradeoffs when you invest in a drug war

  1. Ned says:

    One point I rarely seen made explicitly, that I raise whenever I can is that the Drug War is spectacularly inefficient. The laws are “broken” constantly, every second of every day and only a very teeny tiny amount of “offenders” are ever caught or prosecuted. I know 60 year olds who have broken pot laws nearly every day of their adult lives and have never been arrested. Normally that kind of inefficiency would have spelled the end of a policy long ago. Enforcement of homicide laws should be as efficient as humanly possible.

    Law Enforcement is a limited resource. Time and money spent chasing drugs is time not spent investigating actual crimes. Drug sales and use isn’t an actual crime; it’s something some powerful people just don’t like. Law Enforcement should only pursue actual criminals.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned in the media is that prison reform shouldn’t stop at reducing sentences, it should also redefine “crime”. Not imprisoning users and low level nonviolent offenders misses the real point that none of what they did actually constitutes a “crime”. All this handwringing about releasing these “criminals” early and “is the public at risk” is absurd.

    If not for the Drug War, imagine how many more officers and resources would be available to investigate murders, robberies and rapes etc? You know. A vast huge amount more. Not only that, but less would happen because violent crime associated with the drug black market would fade away.

    • DdC says:

      Ned, the drug war is a product they sell. Based on nothing. Inefficient to whom? Not them. Wasting taxes straight into their own pockets is not wasted, to them. Caging someone for eating bananas out of season is still profits to the jailer. Big Pharma doesn’t have to worry about competition or worse, prevention’s and cures. Fossil fools can keep polluting everything without Hemp. Politicians can get more cop funding. Tree removal doesn’t have to give up profits for paper or chemical cotton for clothing. Those using harder drugs bring drug worrier statistics since its all lumped in together. It’s an opposite universe. What normal sane people think of waste and inefficient is profits and long term job security. I am one of those stoners who has never been arrested because I have also been gainfully employed enough to toke in my own place. Plus I make more than minimum wage so there is no incentive to cage the likes of me. Flipping burgers with off white skin color means more taxes and profits putting them in a cage.

      The reason is irrelevant. Drugs are the go to reason but resisting arrest or just make something up. The priority is what they get out of it, not what it does to better society. Insanity that they compromise on so the people cheer. At the end of the day compromising on insanity leaves insanity. Again the murders, rapes and stealing are all plus to keep the fear mongers in business. If cops had more time to spend on violent crime. Look at all the money emergency rooms would lose. High tech gadgets not bought. Staff cut. Less pillage. One of the reasons drunks are not stopped is they create jobs in the body repair business and replacing cars trashed. Ambulance fuel and uniforms. People just don’t think how much is made on misery. Even if they have to create it like the drug war or never curing an illness you can treat for big bucks. Like police actions around the globe not sanctified as War enacted by Congress. NRA manufacturing soars, bullets, bombs and billion dollar fighter jets that never get off the ground would not be bought if peace broke out. What is up is down to them and what is down to them is Freedom for us.

  2. claygooding says:

    A quick check of every major cities records to see how much law enforcement agencies have cut their detective squads for violent crimes during the last two decades to figure out why 80% of violent crimes go unsolved,,many never investigated.

    And how much narc squads and SWAT teams have increased.

  3. LogicDictates says:

    The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada reviewed 15 studies that evaluated the association between violence and drug law enforcement. “Our findings suggest that increasing drug law enforcement is unlikely to reduce drug market violence. Instead, the existing evidence base suggests that gun violence and high homicide rates may be an inevitable consequence of drug prohibition and that disrupting drug markets can paradoxically increase violence.”

  4. kaptinemo says:

    And here is where the power of the new electorate comes into play.

    It’s time for Congress to feel the heat after this latest budget debt ceiling fiasco, and one way they can avoid melting is to budget gut (I didn’t say ‘cut’, I said ‘gut’) programs and agencies who have, by their own conduct, placed targets on their backs.

    For example: why is DEA still allowed to run loose after all they’ve been proven to have done?

    Time for the new voters, who’ve had their futures trashed by the system, demand an accounting from it, and one good way to start is to say the same of Congress with regards to allowing a proven domestic and international political embarrassment of an agency to continue to exist when the money is desperately needed for other things?

    As we have proved in nearly every case, by sheer electoral numbers we have been able to overwhelm the opposition’s entrenched interests, and that fact is starting to sink into the politisphere’s consciousness, hence this new-found respect for a subject (re-legalization) once derisively, dismissively waved away by the pols.

    Reminding said pols of what savings could be had by jettisoning such proven scandal-squirters like DEA and ONDCP are (wear chemical aprons, eye-shields and gloves when handling, one little squeeze and the corruption spurts all over you), and making that point repeatedly, will also sink in.

  5. jean valjean says:

    This is Hillary Clinton’s legacy to the American people: “There’s just too much money in it.” I used to believe that this was a Freudian slip but now I think she fully understood what she was saying….her backers had invested too much money in the drug war for her to allow the gravy train to end.
    As far as DEA and ONDCP goes, a backstage deal was cooked up to replace Leonhart and Kerlikowske with fluffier, less threatening personalities so that business as usual (i.e. corruption) could continue for the foreseeable future. Bernie Sanders has upset this whole cosy apple cart arrangement with his proposal to end prohibition, and now even long-term prohibs like Jeb Bush and the fat guy are trotting out their fluffy, fake credentials (a daughter’s drug arrest for one and visits to rehabs for the other, complete with crocodile tears all round).
    The Democratic primary next year really is the most significant vote anyone can cast in the run up to 2016. Vote for Hillary and get more of the same old shit. Vote for Bernie if you’ve had to eat enough shit already.

    • Philosophical Whacks says:


      Life is like a shit sandwich. The more bread you have, the less shit you have to eat.

    • Daniel Williams says:

      Yes, vote for Bernie if you’ve had enough shit to eat already. Because, if he gets elected, it won’t be long before there isn’t any shit left to eat.

      • DdC says:

        That is complete and total ignorance and probably not for the reasons you seem to think Danial or Windy. I doubt if Bernie can win over Hilary. He has already moved the pointer to the left. Has the DNC going from hiding to at least lowering the schedule.

        But it is complete ignorance to think there is no difference between the parties or especially the base. You see no difference between John Walters and Billy Bennett compared to Obama removing the Czar and letting chucky deal with fumbling and misstatements. Then you need an eye exam. Libertarian ideals are worth discussing any day but voting day, Because its a wasted vote. Unless you are determined to vote repub anyway, then vote 3rd party.

        If you see no difference between teabag right wing religionists and the base of progressives ability to buy an assortment of strains with a credit card. Then you are blind. There is not one example of both major parties being the same on the drug war. Not even taken seriously when you compare the bases.

        We have dispensaries with orders from the Feds not to harass them, compared to Walters, Addelbrain and Turner’s highest priority of putting us in cages and you think there is no difference? Put down the booze and try some sour diesel, and maybe you won’t sound so silly.

        Democrats can be faulted for appeasing republicans but its the republicans drug war since Nexxon and Rayguns. Democrats can be faulted for compromising on insanity, but its the republicans insanity to start. It may be true that Wall St Banksters have a hold on both, but not the base. It all boils down to slowly eliminating the Ganjawar compared to slowly escalating the war. A ridiculous statement on this board.

  6. Will says:

    As has been discussed before, the war on drugs creates perverse incentives. Does processing languishing rape kits bring in asset forfeiture funds? No. Does investigating unsolved murders allow a police department to procure surplus military equipment? Nope. But waging an unwinnable war on citizens can bring in those highly desired big ticket items. Very perverse indeed.

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