“I believe we need to take the money we are wasting on the War on Drugs and put it into a war on addiction.”
– Arturo Carmona
The War on Drugs is the single most unsuccessful war in American history. Statistics vary, but the price of the War on Drugs over the past 30 years has been in the trillions. Over that period we have spent only a fraction on drug treatment and addiction. However, during the Obama years those funding priorities began to reverse. Still, the War on Drugs has taken a long-term toll on individuals, families and neighborhoods. Nearly half the inmates in Federal prison are there for drug-related offenses.
That mass incarceration has created perhaps the greatest human crisis in American history. Millions of individuals have been incarcerated for simple drug use or possession. These are individuals who should be caring for their families and living as productive members of society. The cost of incarceration is twofold:
- We must pay to house, feed and provide health care for incarcerated individuals.
- The families of the incarcerated are often forced to seek public assistance for basic needs such as food, housing and child care.
This has all led to wasted money, wasted lives and wasted opportunities.
As a society, we can no longer fiscally or morally afford to continue with the War on Drugs. Fortunately, this seems to be one of the areas where there is a growing bipartisan policy consensus. Unfortunately, recent law-and-order rhetoric coming from the Trump administration seems to defy that bipartisan consensus.
In Congress Arturo will work toward the following progressive policies to end the War on Drugs and the accompanying mass incarceration by:
- Diverting 50% of the $51 million we spend on drug interdiction to rehabilitation and gradually decreasing interdiction spending as we get a handle on addiction.
- Immediately classifying marijuana as a Schedule V drug and declassifying the drug altogether as soon as 50% of U.S. states legalize marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.
- Creating a federal planning commission to help localities implement Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs, so first time drug offenders are diverted to treatment programs.
- Working for equal enforcement laws to help balance the disproportional rates of black and Latino inmates in the prison system (57%).
- Reversing laws that deny young people federal financial aid for their education if they have drug convictions.
- Providing federal funding for clean needle programs to reduce HIV/AIDS infections.