With the advent of the crack epidemic came a zero-tolerance policy regarding the users of the drug. Harsher penalties were put on the books to punish crack addicts and the dealers who pushed the drug than those who used powder cocaine. The response to communities being ravaged by crack addiction and violence emanating from it were only met with the heavy-handed “War On Drugs” and the United States has experienced a prison overflow with people thrown in the bing for non-violent drug offenses.
It seemed that the American powers-that-be were “getting it,” after the announcement that thousands of federal inmates locked up for non-violent drug crimes were being relieved of their incarcerated state. It appeared that some compassion was being shown. However, a recent article published the NY Times implies that this is just a precursor to rapid reform when it comes to drug offenders. The article explores how the authorities are softening their approach to punishing drug addicts in light of the new painkiller and heroin epidemic. As she runs for the Democratic nomination for the next presidential race, Hillary Clinton has also addressed the issue, proposing a $10 billion plan to fight this new drug epidemic. However, it only seems that this is happening because the victims of the drug trade this time are young, White suburbanites.
According to a recent study, 90% of the first-time heroin users in the past decade have been White. In response, the parents of these heroin addicts have started to take a stand:
And the growing army of families of those lost to heroin — many of them in the suburbs and small towns — are now using their influence, anger and grief to cushion the country’s approach to drugs, from altering the language around addiction to prodding government to treat it not as a crime, but as a disease.
“Because the demographic of people affected are more white, more middle class, these are parents who are empowered,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, better known as the nation’s drug czar. “They know how to call a legislator, they know how to get angry with their insurance company, they know how to advocate. They have been so instrumental in changing the conversation.”
Now, instead of treating drug abuse as a criminal issue, it is moving more in the direction of being a health issue. Society doesn’t want to see young White kids out there having to spend years behind bars for succumbing to drug addiction. Just look at how law enforcement feels now:
So officers like Eric Adams, a white former undercover narcotics detective in Laconia, are finding new ways to respond. He is deployed full time now by the Police Department to reach out to people who have overdosed and help them get treatment.
“The way I look at addiction now is completely different,” Mr. Adams said. “I can’t tell you what changed inside of me, but these are people and they have a purpose in life and we can’t as law enforcement look at them any other way. They are committing crimes to feed their addiction, plain and simple. They need help.”
Is that not insulting? When poor, Black communities were seeing their neighborhoods become Zombieland, family units destroyed, babies born addicted to drugs and lost loved ones, it wasn’t a concern. The victims in that scenario were seen as crime-loving terrors, that needed to be taught a lesson. Now that Connor and Abby have become junkies, they need help, and not a kick in the ass. This is just, yet another instance of Black people being deemed subhumans in the American society. When Blacks do [insert negative activity], we’re incorrigible demons by nature. When Whites do that same thing, they’re innocent victims, because, infallible.
Reform in drug penalties is necessary, but the reasons behind them appear complete bullshit. Hopefully, one day, Black people will be seen as people the same way White people are, but that day appears to be far off.