I've written about the War on Drugs before, and while I don't (yet?) buy into the idea that all drugs should be legalized, I do think that the status quo is incredibly damaging to American society. Consider this Justice Department study that reports on differences in incarceration rates for blacks and whites.

(CNSNews.com) - One in every three black American men faces the possibility of imprisonment during his lifetime - a disproportionately high figure when compared to white males, according to a new Justice Department study. ...

But the Bureau of Justice Statistics report reveals that a black child born today faces a strong likelihood of spending at least some time in prison. Black men had a 32.2 percent chance of going to prison in 2001, while white males had a 5.9 percent chance and Hispanic men had a 17.2 percent chance. ...

"The police tactics tend to be more focused on neighborhoods where you are more likely to arrest an African American man for a low-level drug offense than if we were to concentrate those resources in a suburb," Ziedenberg said.

"Whites and African Americans use drugs at pretty much the same rate," Ziedenberg added. "We enforce the drug laws more in urban communities, and then we arrest people, and then we convict people, and then they end up in prison."

If laws exist, they should be enforced geographically proportionally to where they are violated. Experience shows that urban neighborhoods tend to have more crimes of all sorts than suburbs do; even if blacks and whites use drugs at the same rate (perfectly reasonable), I suspect that there is more drug-related gang activity in urban areas, and more drug sales.

Either way, the gangs and the illicit drug sales are intimately related to the War on Drugs. As the Marriage Movement notes, there is a correlation between unwed childbearing and the number of black men in prison, and the breakdown of the family is one of the greatest social issues facing America today. (Black families are particularly disrupted by the War on Drugs, but families of all races are in trouble.)

Of course, one simple solution is for people to start obeying the law. Whether or not "over enforcement" exists in black communities will be irrelevent if blacks stop breaking the law.

Mychal S. Massie, a member of the conservative black leadership network Project 21, said many blacks must change their outlook if they're going to reverse the high rates of incarceration. He remains skeptical of substance abuse programs and emphasizes personal responsibility instead.

"It does not have to do with being poor, being black or it being a residual effect of slavery," Massie said. "It has everything to do with not being responsible in one's behavior and our being a country and a system of laws, and we must abide by those."

Good advice for everyone, of every race. Nevertheless, our nation needs to revisit our drug laws, and consider some drastic reformation. That may mean wholesale legalization, or something entirely different, but the current system is contributing a great deal to one of the most pressing social crises of our day.

Or maybe incarceration is linked to the weather? Of course, the closer you get to Canada, the fewer blacks there are, so I don't know if any of these statistics actually mean anything.



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