New York Law School

The War on Drugs: A Legalized Form of Discrimination on the Basis of Race

In South Carolina, police in SWAT gear entered a high school, specifically targeting African American students, holding guns to students’ heads as they searched for illegal drugs. No drugs were found in this raid. In Texas, 15 percent of all of the young African American males living in one city were arrested in a drug sweep predicated on merely one tip from an informant. All of the men were innocent. Although these stories are alarming, they are not unique. All across the country African Americans are searched, detained, arrested, and incarcerated in furtherance of the War on Drugs. Masked by facially race neutral policies and procedures, the War on Drugs has become a form of legalized discrimination against minorities, specifically African Americans. We need look no farther than our jails and prisons to see the effect of the racially discriminatory policies of the War on Drugs. In some parts of…

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