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Freedom in Motion » 06. Mass Incarceration & the Drug War » Roundtable: “Mass Incarceration and the Drug War” at Spelman College

Roundtable: “Mass Incarceration and the Drug War” at Spelman College

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This conference was co-sponsored by students at Spelman College, Morehouse College in Atlanta, and the Spelhouse National Action Network and was held at Spelman College on September 20, 2018.

This was the third Historically Black College and University (HBCU) at which we have held our drug-war conferences. The previous two were Morgan State University in Baltimore and the Florida A&M University School of Law in Orlando. We also have held one of our drug-war conferences at the University of Texas.

The drug war has been one of the most immoral and destructive government programs in U.S. history, much more so than even Prohibition. Not only has it destroyed American society with such things as mandatory-minimum sentences, arbitrary and capricious searches and seizures, asset-forfeiture laws, no-knock raids, mass incarceration, illegal spying and surveillance, it has also been the most racist government program since segregation.

More important, what a person ingests is simply none of the government’s business. In a free society, government protects the right to people to make peaceful choices, not punish them for making the wrong choices. Freedom necessarily entails the right to make choices that are irresponsible, unhealthy, self-destructive, and dangerous, so long as they do not entail the violation of other people’s rights.

There is no doubt that drug addiction is a massive problem in America, just as alcoholism and tobacco addiction are. But the resolution of these types of societal problems belongs entirely in the private sector, through such things as drug rehab programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, and therapy. Life is difficult enough for people addicted to drugs and booze. They don’t need government penitentiaries, fines, and humiliation to make life even more difficult for them.

While the drug war has impacted people of all races and walks of life, there is no doubt that its adverse consequences have fallen disproportionately on blacks and, to a certain extent, Hispanics. That’s not to say, of course, that all police and judges are bigots. But it is to say that some of them are bigots and that the drug war is a dream-come-true for those who are because it enables them to exercise their bigotry in a perfectly legal manner and even get praised for it.

No matter how much the state has cracked down in the war on drugs, the situation has only gotten worse. Today, cops and DEA agents are even stopping cars on the highways of America and stealing cash from people, mostly poor people, and without charging them with a crime. It’s pure highway robbery, and it’s because of the drug war. Drug-enforcement officials abroad have resorted to murdering suspected drug-law violators without due process or a trial. Some countries have tried employing their military forces, which has brought nothing but more death and destruction, not to mention massive violations of civil liberties and privacy. Such measures have done nothing to “win” the war on drugs. They have only made a bad situation worse.

Owing to its illegality, the drug war has spawned black-market cartels and drug gangs, which rely on violence to compete. Year after year, law-enforcement agents bust these cartels and gangs, only to see them quickly replaced by others. That’s because the money to be made dealing in illegal drugs is so high that there will always be people who are willing to take the risk. There is one and only one way to put all these drug cartels and unsavory, black-market drug dealers out of business. That way is drug legalization — a total end to the drug war, just as Americans brought a total end to Prohibition.

Ideas have power, especially ideas on liberty. Twenty-eight years ago, when I founded FFF, libertarians were pretty much the only ones calling for an end to the war on drugs. Today, the idea is on the table and being seriously considered by people of all political philosophies and walks of life. Many states have even thumbed their noses at the feds by legalizing marijuana on the state level.

This immoral and destructive government program is clearly on the precipice. We need to push it over the cliff. That’s why we continue holding our drug-war conferences at colleges and universities, including at HBCUs. The more people who come to realize that the only solution to the drug crisis is to end the drug war, the sooner we get to the restoration of a peaceful, harmonious, and free society.

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The Future of Freedom Foundation was founded in 1989 by FFF president Jacob Hornberger with the aim of establishing an educational foundation that would advance an uncompromising case for libertarianism in the context of both foreign and domestic policy. The mission of The Future of Freedom Foundation is to advance freedom by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government.