The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world. Of those incarcerated, a shockingly disproportionate number are Black men. Section I of this analysis explores how United States drug policy has evolved as a means to exercise racial control by mass incarceration under the guise of the so-called “war on drugs”. The problem is explored from various ideological perspectives and within the ethical frameworks from which drug policy has developed. Who gains and who loses from current policy is discussed as a means to understand how the policy persists. Historical and symbolic racism are offered as root causes of the social problem. In Section II of this analysis, current trends in drug policy are explored with particular emphasis on drug decriminalization and legalization. Drug policy reforms in Portugal, Colorado, Washington, and Seattle, including use of harm reduction strategies, are offered as possible frameworks for social advocacy and reform. A shift away from a criminal justice paradigm and towards a model of public health in drug policy is recommended.
(This article was completed in April 2014 and submitted by the Site Administrator in partial fulfillment of the Master of Science in Social Work at the Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville)