An overwhelming number of citizens across this country are of the opinion that the United States War on Drugs has been a complete fiscal failure and should be brought to an end. Oddly though, this continues to be an issue that remains largely undressed by our nation’s politicians. The harsh reality is that the War on Drugs may in fact be but a piece of a larger issue within this country, a reality that connects the slow and steady degradation of our civil liberties, the militarization of our police force, and the scary profiteering of the privatized prison industry.
There is a wealth of information available from reputable sources (ACLU, the Guardian) about two semi-recently passed and thoroughly controversial post-Patriot Act bills, namely NDAA and H.R.347. Without diving into the exquisite details of the laws (see the links, the writers there know what they’re talking about), the concern surrounding NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) and H.R.347 is that they each negate basic US civil liberties: NDAA by allowing the president to arrest anyone around the globe (including US citizens) and hold them in military prison indefinitely, and H.R.347 by mudding the waters of where citizens can and cannot legally protest as well as how the Dept. of Homeland Security decides this legality on a case-by-case basis. Despite the administration’s insistence that the current president has no intention to abuse US citizens with his newfound executive powers, the legislations’ mere wording should still very much be cause for political concern.
Currently, the loudest voice of political dissidence in this country is certainly the Occupy movement. As a matter of being a group that actively exercises its civil liberties, the Occupy movement is especially concerned over these new laws, suggesting that the laws may have indeed been written to target Occupy itself. I don’t find this to be a far stretch of the imagination, because I believe our status-quo gridlocked two-party politicians are likely quite afraid of the populist views of the Occupy movement, wide-ranging and disorganized as they might be.
But my concern is with the trend of an increasingly militarized police force. I am very concerned about the fact that the War on Drugs has caused state spending on prisons to rise at 6x the rate of spending on higher education. But I am even more concerned about what this country’s economic incentives might be for incarcerating its citizenry, especially for non-violent drug offenses (which are progressively considered to be more of a social sickness than an act of crime). I am further concerned that a driving force for this wave of incarceration is the remarkable shift towards privatization of prisons in this country and the high capacity of inmates that these private prisons must maintain in order to preserve their for-profit business models.
I love this country for its liberty, freedoms, and democracy, but I am increasingly concerned that it is no longer setting the ‘global example’ of how a nation should work to uphold these founding ideals. Even in a globally connected world, we need to continue to preserve the ideals that this country was founded upon, not continue to create crime where it does not exist merely because we are afraid to face the changes of our generation.
On Prison Profiteering and Privatization:
On NDAA and anti-protest legislation:
On Police Militarization: