Judge Billy Murphy discusses the War on Drugs on MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry"
Launched during the Nixon administration, the 40-year effort has done little to decrease the pandemic use, trade and violence associated with illegal drugs. What it has done, as Harris-Perry reports, is cost us taxpayer dollars that reach into the trillions and over 45 million arrests which have disrupted families and communities across the country.
"Prohibition is causing the problem," said Judge Murphy, who is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and speaks on this issue at a national level. "Drug use is being treated as a criminal justice issue, when it should be treated as a medical one."
And indeed, the Obama administration has stated that it will seek to undertake a more comprehensive approach to drug use in its 2013 National Drug Control Strategy, focusing on addiction and rehabilitative services versus incarceration. But all four panelists agreed-the road to recovery is far from over.
At 2.3 million, our per capita prison population is the highest in the world; and over 25% of those prisoners are there because of drug offenses. Even more troubling are the uneven sentencing guidelines and enforcement practices that lead directly to an overrepresentation of minorities imprisoned for these crimes.
"The War on Drugs is a war on black and brown people using drugs," Judge Murphy stated during the program. "They become unemployable, their families are destroyed, their children are no longer ready for education, AIDS rates go up. And the beat goes on." Federal programs such as public housing and student loans are no longer available to individuals charged with a drug offense, and the results can be devastating.
We encourage you to watch Judge Murphy, Melissa Harris-Perry and the other panelists who participated in this much-needed discussion, below.