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Drug incarceration in the United States

Brian J Smith Nov. 4, 2014

It’s no secret, the United States incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other country in the world. That’s right, more than the war-torn, more than the third-world, more than the corrupt, and more than the oppressed. For a nation that prides itself on being the land of the free, we seem to have a lot of our population that is just the opposite. In fact, despite only accounting for 5 percent of the world’s population, we make up a staggering 25 percent of the world’s prison population. As of 2012, we were incarcerating our citizens at a rate of over 700 per 100,000.

What is the cause?

The war on drugs has led to the most substantial spike in our prison population. Over half of the inmates in America’s federal prisons are there on drug related offenses, many of which were not violent crimes. The war on drugs has led to dramatic growth in our nation’s already overcrowded prisons, with the rate of prisoners going from 41,000 in 1980 to over 500,000 in 2011. The increase is attributed mainly to more drug arrests and stricter sentencing, such as mandatory minimums, applied evenly across the board, regardless of an individual’s previous criminal history (or lack thereof).

Who is affected?

While all Americans are affected by the economic and ethical implications that come along with incarcerating 2.3 million of our citizens, one key demographic factor is to blame. Race. Minorities, particularly black Americans, are imprisoned at an alarmingly high rate. Blacks Americans represent approximately 12 percent of the population of drug users, but account for nearly 59 percent of those imprisoned on drug related charges. This is due to the fact that black Americans are arrested at higher rates, and once they go to trial, they are more likely to face drug sentencing inequality, such as the disparity between sentencing for crack and powder cocaine possession.

What to do if you are facing drug charges

The best thing you can do if you or a loved one is facing drug charges is to high an experienced criminal defense attorney. With the proper legal guidance, you can come up with a plan of action to get charges dismissed or reduced. If you are looking for a drug lawyer in Las Vegas, it is in your best interest to hire someone with an impressive win loss ratio, as Nevada boasts some of the strictest drug laws in the nation.

If you are facing drug charges in Las Vegas, contact Brian J. Smith today at (702) 380-8248 for a consultation.