(M)ake no mistake: mass incarceration rips at the fabric of families and whole communities.So here's the situation as he sees it: In the past 20 or so years, for young, black men, marijuana use has led to imprisonment. All kinds of bad things happen to you in prison. For one, it's hard to keep a wife when you go in and hard to find one when you get out. There are other, unmentioned, downsides to prison as well, like the inability to drive over to Walmart to get a charging cable for your new Galaxy S4. There are probably many others, but I'll leave it to you to come up with them.
According to the 2011 book “A Plague of Prisons” by Ernest Drucker, a public health expert:
Related to mass incarceration is the disastrous drug war, which essentially has become a war on marijuana waged primarily against young black men, even though they use the drug at nearly the same rate as whites.
- “The risk of divorce is high among men going to prison, reaching 50 percent within a few years after incarceration.”
- “The marriage rate for men incarcerated in prisons and jails is lower than the American average. For blacks and Hispanics, it is lower still.”
- “Unmarried couples in which the father has been incarcerated are 37 percent less likely to be married one year after the child’s birth than similar couples in which the father has never been incarcerated.”
So now let's assume that after, say, 18 years of seeing this happen in your neighborhood, you come to the conclusion that lighting up a blunt greatly increases your chances of getting locked up. What do you do? Well, if you're Charles Blow, you seem to light up anyway because ... because ... well, because you just want to, gosh darn it!
That's Charles. How about you? Say you were taking a trip to Turkey to visit the site of the most recent protests and rioting. As you're packing, a friend comes by to borrow some cumin and library paste, hears about where you're going and says, "Well, don't wear green. In Turkey, you'll be thrown in prison for wearing green!" You look it up on the Internet and find out she's telling the truth. Do you:
- Pack the green clothes anyway, because, gosh darn it, you like green clothes!
- Pack even more green clothes just to stick it to The Man.
- Take every scrap of green cloth out of your suitcase and then start looking at removing yellows and blues since they can be combined to make green.
If you're Charles Blow, you pick either #1 or #2. I'd probably go with #3. After all, I can find lots of other
ways to get high and have a good time fun outfits to wear that aren't green.
Lack of ability to assimilate socially useful information is certainly a defining trait of poverty. However, it is also true that black men are incarcerated at higher rates per marijuana user than whites. The situation with the drug war has many negative consequences for the nation. Ending the drug war will not significantly improve poverty in the demographic under discussion, because you correctly point out that they are already not absorbing the correct lesson. But the apparent racism of the war on drugs is harmful to the nation.
Post a Comment