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Women Wrongfully Assaulted Because of War on Drugs

After holding a national summit to discuss the future of law enforcement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intent to increase regulations and laws regarding marijuana possession.

In an effort to return to the War on Drugs era, which occurred during the ‘80s and ‘90s, Sessions instructed federal prosecutors to seek the highest possible sentences in drug cases.

Even though funds for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration were cut by $109 million, the administration proposed increasing the spending budget on the Drug Enforcement Administration by $150 million.

This will no doubt unfairly target minorities, and result in a growing prison population – neither of which is beneficial to the U.S.

Women in particular are more vulnerable to search tactics by police. From 1980 to 2014, women were incarcerated at a much faster rate than men. Moreover, unsurprisingly, black women continue to be incarcerated at twice the rate of white women.

The initial encounters these women face with police could sometimes even be characterized as human rights violations. Invasive searches, many of which include physical and sexual violence, have damaged far too many women, and have even resulted in death.

A study on airport security recently revealed that Black, Asian, and Hispanic women were almost three times more likely to be selected for strip searches than their male counterparts. These “security measures,” which often involving frisking, X-ray scans, or even body cavity searches, are degrading and humiliating, not to mention discriminatory,

Charnesia Corley, a Texas resident, was pulled over for a simple traffic violation in 2015. She filed a complaint after being subjected to an unmerited vaginal search at a public gas station by two female officers.

It is shocking to believe that in 2017, police officers are still allowed to obtain a warrant to search women’s vaginas. That’s not justice, it’s sexual assault.

Another appalling fact revealed by The New York Times that “research suggests that drug law enforcement is too often accompanied by such sexual shakedowns, in which women — who may or may not be using, carrying or dealing drugs — are given the choice between performing sexual acts or facing what could be decades in prison.”

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) reports, “By any measure and every metric, the U.S. war on drugs — a constellation of laws and policies that seeks to prevent the use of certain drugs, primarily through punishment and coercion — has been a catastrophic failure.”

The DPA also says, “Each year, U.S. law enforcement makes more than 1.5 million drug arrests — more arrests than for all violent crimes combined. The overwhelming majority — more than 80 percent — are for possession only and involve no violent offense.”

Then why is the federal government reinstating this failed program?

The failure of the war on drugs also exacerbates racial disparities. Black women make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, and use drugs at a similar rate as other racial and ethnic groups, yet they make up 35 percent of those incarcerated in state prison for drug possession.

Women are being assaulted, wrongfully arrested, and killed over minor infractions that should have been decriminalized long ago. If the police are perpetuating violence instead of stopping it, the United States justice system is broken.

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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1 Comment

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    Janice Henshaw

    August 4, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Thanks for these interesting statistics. Good article, very sad news for women
    indeed. We have to try to change this terrible new Sessions law.

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