These ideals were magnified through the sensationalists media portrayal of crack cocaine described as the most addictive drug known to man. The US government embraced a zero tolerance policy which resulted in the extreme increase of incarcerations related to drug charges at the local, state and federal levels. (Belong and Spoon, 201 5, p. 102-103) Reagan established that the use illegal drugs was a threat to national security and promised that his administration was determined to end the drug epidemic in the United States. (Belong and Spoon, 201 5, p. 1 02) In 1 982 Vice President George H.
W. Bush combined various agencies and military branches to create the South Florida Drug Force to prevent the entrance of cocaine from Colombia (NP, March 02, 2007). In 1984 the First Lady Nancy Reagan launched the “Just Say No” campaign; the media and American education was flooded with anti-drug messages (Bagley, M. B. , 1988) The moral panic caused during this era is contributed to the media headlines Of crack babies whose “biological inferiority is stamped at birth”, reports Of “crack whore’s” trading sex for drug hits and the fear of instant addiction. Schneider, E, 201 5, p. -2) Communities were intimidated through the overly exaggerated media coverage on the severity of drug related crimes. To make sense of this societal fear we must first review the correlation between drug use, violent crime, health and social problems. We must consider the connection from various perspectives. Sociologist Erick Goode suggests the Enslavement model which claims that an individual’s dependence on drugs causes them to commit crimes to sustain their drug habit (Belong and Spoon, 2015 p. 72).
Nick from the BBC documentary, Courthouse, is the perfect example of someone that fits this theory. Nick prostituted herself and stole in order to maintain her crack addiction. Goldstein proposed the spectrographically model which suggests that certain drugs, especially stimulants like cocaine, increases aggression, hostility and irrationality which increase the potential for aggressive and violent behavior. Goldstein also suggests the systemic violence is linked to the aggressive interactions in the system of drug dealing and use.
Violence arises from the dangers of working or doing business in an illicit market such as “turf wars” or feuds among drug dealers (Belong and Spoon, 201 5, p. 76-77). There is no single answer the question of whether and how drug use causes criminal behavior, highlighting the importance in consideration of different model theories. Many arrestees test positive for illicit drug use suggesting that drugs caused an individual to commit a crime. However, there are other factors to consider before making this determination, we need to consider the types of drugs involved in the offenses that cause people to be arrested.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 1 , 552,432 arrests for drug possession, including 42. 2% for marijuana possession and only 16. For heroin or cocaine possession (FBI, 2013)” (Belong and Spoon, 201 5, p 61). Individuals may be arrested for selling or possessing certain drugs like marijuana because they are illegal, however, if such drug was legalized the “link” between drug use and crime could disappear. A stronger link that strongly correlates drug use and property crime is the inability of a drug addict to support his drug habit.
According to Belong and Spoon (2015), several studies of Street drug users over the past several decades demonstrates an increase of property crimes during periods of active or heavier drug use. Illegal drugs can be expensive, but because most users come from a low socio economic state and their drug use may consists of large quantities, these factors can be attributed to an individual engaging in criminal activity to obtain money to purchase or get the drugs directly.
Such crimes can include shoplifting, credit card or other fraud, selling stolen property, larceny, vehicle thefts, and burglary. According to a study by David Mourn and his colleagues, they found that drug users were engaged in crime an average of 255 days a year during periods of addiction and 105 days per ear during non-addicted periods (Belong and Spoon, 201 5, p 74-75). These studies strongly suggest there is a direct cause between illegal drug use and criminal activities.
Since the war on drugs was implemented in the sass’s, our government has emphasized on a punitive approach in combating drug abuse. Politicians have disregarded a rehabilitation approach as it is deemed to be excessively lenient treatment. Mandatory minim um sentencing statutes have been implemented to insure that offenders serve time for their crimes. Under such statutes, judges are required to impose mandatory sentences eased on certain types of crimes which include drug offenses.
California lawyer Daniel Abramson states, “California added more than 1 ,OHO new drug offenses and more drug related crimes that were put on the books, by definition we are crystallizing more people and the crime rate goes up simply because we have defined more people to be criminals” (Norris, M and Blank, M, NP, All Things Considered) According to Schneider (201 5), “The drug war has had a host Of casualties, but felons released from prison are the most obvious. They are virtually unemployable… ND so frequently return to the rug economy as the only occupation available to them. Felons lose public benefits such as food stamps, public housing and educational assistance, and in some jurisdictions, they are stripped of their right to vote and to serve on juries. The creation of a permanent class of non-citizens who cycle in and out of prison remains the most destructive legacy of the war on drugs” (p. 7) The aggressive policing of the War on Drugs due to the implementation of mandatory minimums has contributed to an extreme high number of incarcerated American citizens.