Published: Friday, June 24, 2011
Although President Nixon gets credit for declaring the "war on drugs," it is really state officials who have been waging the war. In 2009, there were nearly 1.7 million arrests for drug crimes in the U.S., the vast majority of which were made by state law enforcement officers. And these arrests came under laws passed by state lawmakers. So the number of individuals in state prisons and jails for drug crimes far outnumbers those in federal prison, despite the fact that more than half of all federal prisoners are there for drug crimes. Because state officials are serving as the front-line troops in the "war on drugs," efforts to reform drug laws should focus on the states.