War on Drugs = Too High Incarceration Rates
Part I of a Part III Series
French philosopher Blaise Pascal famously stated “to understand is to forgive.” Following this aphorism, How to Make Money Selling Drugs exposes the muddied world of the drug industry and begs the question: does the criminalization of drugs do more harm than good? Framed as a how-to-guide, How to Make Money Selling Drugs exposes the many facets of the drug industry and the glitches and corruption within the prosecution of narcotics. How to Make Money Selling Drugs is most effective in its ability to give a face to the drug dealer, reminding the viewer that these criminals are indeed humans– a fact the War on Drugs seems to ignore.
-Ed Pilkington, The Guardian
The documentary explains that in regards to cocaine “If you’re Black, you’re about four times as likely to be arrested than a White dealer, which is counterintuitive because White Americans buy and sell more cocaine than anyone else.” This statistic is partially attributed to where the deals take place. White cocaine dealers tend to sell to White upper and middle class customers who live in suburbs. Their location grants them the luxury of distributing their product far from neighborhoods that are conventionally thought of as “crime ridden” and populated with police.
On the other hand, cities such as Baltimore, where African Americans make up 62% of the population, are under constant police surveillance. To be a dealer in these neighborhoods comes with a higher risk of incarceration. Without even tackling the slew of controversy surrounding racial profiling in police departments, Black dealers are already at a tremendous disadvantage due to their geographic location, which is also a manifestation of a race driven phenomenon known as “White Flight.”
In the United States, 75.4% of prisoners are nonwhite. The racism surrounding arrest, as well as the incidence of poverty and poor education in minority groups attribute to these vast discrepancies in prison populations and ultimately keep these people in a cycle of incarceration.
Say you are a twelve-year-old Black child growing up in Baltimore living under the poverty line as 25% of the population in Baltimore does. You probably live in public housing and drug dealers target you to get involved in the drug industry. It’s easy money and the poor schools in the area don’t give you many other options for the future. As you get older you get caught a few times and eventually go to prison after you turn 18. After released from prison, you have few skills and even if you are well equipped for a certain job, the label of being a convicted felon harms your chances tremendously. How to Make Money Selling Drugs illuminates the reasons why people get involved in the drug world and eventually re-offend so the audience can understand figures that are demonized in our society.
But how do we solve this? The prison system is its own beast of an industry in American society. While Americans make up only 5% of the world’s population, they make up 25% of the world’s prisoners. Since there are many corporations, individuals, and politicians who benefit from heavy incarceration and strict drug laws, what would happen if we were to deconstruct this system? How to Make Money Selling Drugs posits that the War on Drugs is a deeply flawed policy that ultimately harms our society. Whether you agree or disagree with the position, the documentary raises important questions surrounding how we treat and stigmatize minorities and drug addicts– issues that we, as young people, must face to ensure that everyone is treated justly in America.
REACT to How To Make Money Selling Drugs
1. MENTOR at-risk youth. You can be the person to steer a young person away from selling or using drugs and toward a brighter future. Sign up with Mentoring USA, GEAR UP, or another local organization.
3. GET HELP if you or someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol. There is information on rehabilitation and meetings at the following sites or at your local medical center.
4. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Protect yourself from unlawful questioning and/or giving answers that can be used against you in a court of law. The American Civil Liberties Union has created a free Know Your Rights booklet.