Are we losing the war on drugs?

Think of all the police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers who are involved in investigating, transporting and interrogating suspects of illegal drug activity.

Imagine all the prosecutors, public defenders and staff needed to process such offenders in our sluggish judicial system. I wonder exactly how much time and money is dedicated in an attempt to achieve justice. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Think of how many courtroom hours are spent in devotion to drug-related cases. What about the judges, court clerks, bailiffs, stenographers, attendants and so on who must be present for such cases? Last time I checked, many of these public servant were pretty well paid compared to most of us, so I wonder just how much of the public’s money goes into fighting the logistical war on crime. And it’s still not over yet.

The United States of America has a larger prison population than any other country on the planet, by both population percentage and overall totals, according to the United Nations. Of those 2.19 million people in incarceration, you can bet that many of those being held in our prison and jail cells are drug offenders.

Try calculating the man hours of all the corrections officers guarding them, all the energy used, food consumed and medical expenses burdened upon the taxpayer.

Sorry, still not done. After they get out, you will now have to pay parole and probation officers to supervise their release. And after such an epic and costly run through our law enforcement bureaucracy, how often do released offenders turn right back to substance abuse?

Some believe the answer to stopping repeat offenders and drug use is simply lengthening sentences and spending more money on law enforcement. I understand the urge to come down hard on drugs and if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a completely ineffective tactic, I might even agree. I would think an important part of winning the war on drugs is to get people to stop using them.

This is how we’ve been fighting the War on Drugs for the past few decades and it cost us tens of billions of dollars, with no end in sight.

Our country is blessed with being the richest in the world in some measures – one of them being that we have the largest demand for illegal drugs.

We can’t just throw everyone who’s used an illegal drug in jail, nor can we afford to ignore them, so what is America to do?

Meanwhile, Mexico has deployed 40,000 soldiers in several parts of the country in an bloody attempt to curb the power of the drug cartels supplying our citizens.

The drug corridors through the country are pivotal in moving products from south America, mostly in cocaine, to the United States.

This is an unprecedented action on Mexico’s part and a military commitment that surpasses the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

In 2008, more than 6,000 soldiers, drug traffickers and civilians were killed in Mexico, more than double the previous year.

Not bad enough? Here’s an example.

On Feb. 1, retired Brigadier General Mauro Tello Quinones arrived in the city of Cancun, assigned to oversee the military anti-drug operations. On Feb. 3, his body, alongside those a lieutenant colonel and a nephew of the city’s mayor, was found dead. They had been brutally tortured and dumped along a main roadway, only two days after being given the job.

Tello’s task was to tackle corruption in the city’s police force.

In a show of power and resentment, the Mexican military threw down the gauntlet and assaulted the Cancun police station, arresting all the police officers and shipping the chief to the capitol to answer questions over the assassination.

This is how the Mexican drug war is being fought.

I think an important part of Mexico’s war is how we are fighting our own in this country. Instead of treating users like they’re the criminal scum of the earth, maybe a more understanding approach aimed at rehabilitation would work better. Maybe looking at the underlying social and economic issues that foster such behavior might be a better way to spend money.

I don’t know what we should do, but we are losing the war. It’s its time for something different.

What do you think?

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