The War on Drugs
An initiative started by the Nixon administration that aimed to reduce illegal drug use. The initiative failed to curb drug use, instead leading to a rise of violence, and relevantly, the rise of mass incarceration and a new reliance on private prisons. John Ehlricman, an advisor to Nixon, said this in an interview with Harper’s Magazine: "We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” The war on drugs lead to the mass incarcerated of nonviolent drug users, especially, Black men, instead of the cartels and kingpin heads the administration promised. Policies that increase arrests created in that era and the intense criminalization of nonviolent drug users still exist today, and fuel much of the prison population. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, there are 6 times as many arrests for drug possession as for drug sales.