War on Drugs
Charles E. Reasons
The War on Drugs refers to the effort since the 1970s to combat illegal drug use by greatly increasing penalties, enforcement, and incarceration. It began with the efforts of conservative Republicans to capture the historically democratic South during the late 1960s. Nixon led this attempt to attract White voters by having the federal government take the lead in the War on Drugs and crime control, and the implementation of the policies was carried further by the Reagan administration. Like earlier drug legislation and the enforcement of drug laws, the War on Drugs was characterized by racial and ethnic bias. The astronomical increase in funding initiated during the Reagan administration brought a dramatic increase in incarceration rates, particularly of Blacks and Hispanics; erosion of civil liberties; discriminatory practices in policing; racial differences in sentencing and incarceration; and the emergence of a large drug/prison/treatment complex. The War on Drugs has led to ...